Printed Books vs. iBooks & eBooks

Printed Books vs. iBooks & eBooks

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It was not until the iPad came out that I found myself falling in love again with books.  Now, I did not need a shelf or a library or cart to bring them along with me, I can put my entire library on my iPad and read anything I wanted anytime, anywhere.  Many will argue that printed books are something you can hold, fold, flip through, make notes on, take to the beach, carry on a bus or subway, and that is all good.  However, I get a great deal of satisfaction of knowing that I can fit every book I have ever read, wanted or wanted to read can all fit on one small device, thinner than and smaller than a National Geographic Magazine, and in its entirety is with full color photos, search and book mark capabilities.  This never hit me harder than the first time I went to Brazil.  I had a book on history, modern culture, even a language and phrase book and even a separate dictionary.  So, 5 book that take up 30% my carry on?  Or, an iPad which can hold hundreds of books and can fit in my laptop case?  The answer was easy.

I love books, I have for over 30 years.  I have hundreds of them, and in fact I even had a stamp to press into the first page saying “From the Library of JRC”.  I loved to spend time in the library in high school while my friends were hanging out in the smoking lounge, and in college, I worked in the mall to pay for tuition, but spent a lot of money in the mall book store.  I loved to read, in fact, I would spend every minute I could reading, as long as it was not a text book.  In college, the books were so expensive, I would keep them in shrink-wrap so I can sell them back at full price at the end of the semester, but even still, no such luck, they would only offer you less than half of what you purchased the book for.  My one friend got so mad he ripped off the plastic shrink wrap and ruffled some pages just so they would have to go through the expense of re-shrink wrapping.

Also in college, I worked in a book warehouse.  I would be given a list of books to pull and pack for libraries and universities, even book stores.  5 of this, 10 of that, 2 of these, etc.  Books that were damaged I got a huge discount for if I wanted to buy.  For example, if I came across a book like “Sweet Nothings”, a book on all sorts of love quotes, I can buy it for 10% off, but if it were damaged, I could get it for like 90% off.  Now, I don’t remember exactly the pricing or discounts, but I do remember that one day alone I had about 20 books I wanted to read and my boss asked “what are you selling these on the side or at garage sales” and with all sincerity never even having thought of that, explained, I truly loved books and these were going to be mine to keep.  And they still are, I am looking up from the laptop now and see a few of them.

Magazines I loved even more. And when I started to write, I found myself published in a national magazine and then felt a need to buy up many copies, to give to relatives, family, friends, but I also kept them on my coffee table to impress the women I dated.  The one thing, however, is that I did not want them dirty or left in any less than mint condition. I did not want stains on them, I did not want the covers bent, or the pages torn or written on.  Years went by, and I found myself only buying one book a year on average. Reading it would be another feat.

This is another reason why I love iBooks. And for those claiming they are putting printed books and stores out of business, I argue in return, if it were not for this technology, I would never read.  I would read it online, but never buy a book, and I have probably spent more on iBooks in the last 10 months than I have the last 10 years.  I am not out to put a major bookstore out of business, or a factory or print mill that employs many, but the fact is, I was not buying books for 10 years.  Now, I am, they save on paper/shipping, and I buy more, and the authors, publishers, e-book encoders (or whatever they are called) benefit.  My heart goes out to those who lost jobs, really truly, however, its only because of electronic tablet and reading devices am I buying books again.

The great part is, I can download a sample, read the first chapter or two and if I don’t like it, I don’t have to buy it.  But it was no different 10 years ago.  I would go to the book store, read the first chapter in the store an decide if it was for me and worth paying $10-20 for.  Its the same thing.

For me, magazines are things you take on the bus, on planes, to the beach, and you don’t care if they get trashed, dirty, wet or ruined.  Books are more special to me.  You buy one, you want it forever, you want to refer back to it.  So what better way to buy it than in electronic format so you have it even when the electronic device like an iPad or tablet is upgraded.  Remember all those LPs and cassettes you bought?  Where are they now?  Remember when CDs came out and you were able to import them into your MP3 player and even now store them on a “cloud”?  I am a bit older now, and to show my age, I can recall buying the same few songs by Elvis on 45RPM, 33LP, 8-Track, Cassette, CD and even MP3, so I’ve basically spent over $100 on the same few songs I’ve already paid for over and over again since I was a kid.  Now, life is simpler, I buy it once, and I can listen to it for years to come even if the device I listen to it on changes.

In many ways I am old fashioned, but in other ways I am very modern, and while I love to hold on to books I read as a teen, as a young adult and as someone who has now has crossed that line into my 40s, I am happy to know I don’t need a truck, U-Haul or anything else to carry my favorite books, magazines and music with me where ever I go. Its right at my fingertips on a device I embrace because it is super-easy to use.

Forget the email, internet, texting, photos/video capabilities, the fact that I have a device that carries a library is amazing in itself.

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