Ebooks have become more of a fad in the past few years, thanks to the proliferation of the devices like kindle. Until 2012-13, ebooks never took off because kindle and its likes have been prohibitively expensive, and reading from a computer screen isn’t the most soothing for the eyes.
Yet with the introduction of tablets and smartphones with bigger screens, things are changing. Till sometime ago, e books to me were nothing but pdf documents downloaded (for free) over the Internet. These pdfs were great on the computer screen, and not too good for reading a novel (though great to fool the boss that you are doing something productive in office). And so the rule was: if I want to read a reference text (like wikipedia), I’d prefer online, but if its a novel or a text book, I would like to have the ability to read it while lying supine.
During my visit to Nigeria, and I met someone who was reading a novel on an old tablet (technologically outdated in 2 years). He couldn’t get a physical copy of ‘The immortals of Meluha’, so ebook was the only option. I found the concept mesmerizing. My recent technological upgrade to a nexus 7 introduced me to the concept of kindle app and google play and the ability to buy ebooks just like I would order physical books from flipkart.
I fell in love with it! And that’s because I found that it is:
Convenient – I do not need to carry (and dump) novels after reading them (think about lugging around multiple paperbacks)
User friendly – I can change the font size, the width of the line or spacing, brightness to suit my eyes and brain
Highlightable – I love marking important passages
Searchable – Now thats where technology comes in
Audible – A lot of apps can convert text to voice
Syncable across devices – That’s unique to ebooks. I read a novel on my tablet till page 277 and if I wish to continue reading on my laptop at office, I can do that due to its auto sync to farthest page read feature and ability to store bookmarks across devices
Editable – Yes, I can add comments just as easily like I would mark in a textbook using a pencil. These edits are visible when I view my ebook from anywhere.
Environment friendly – This goes without saying, cutting trees for paper isnt the best way to save the earth, nor is the logistical expense of printing and transporting books to the points of sale.
Copyright enforceable – But this is a tricky area. Digital rights management works but I hear that DRM can be stripped off and distributed. Not a good sign for authors and publishers.
And finally, cheaper – Because of its wide presence, differential pricing for the Indian market may not work, but they are still at par or slightly cheaper than their print counterparts. However, the difference is substantial in developed markets like the US. With the Indian market getting younger and eager to accept technology, ebook prices may fall further.
Some people still prefer paper books for the sake of legacy, but times are changing.
There are number of apps available for a tablet user (apple/android)
– Google play
I found that amazon’s prices are lower than on google play. So whichever you choose, do it wisely.
A 7 inch tablet weighing less than 350g is ideal for ebook reading. There are many options in this range, make sure the battery life is good (ebooks do not consume a lot of battery anyway).
Going forward, I can see many great works getting converted to the ebook format. It would be interesting to see them coming.
I wouldn’t be surprised if school students these days read Shakespeare or Charles Dickens on tablets!