I’ve heard so many times people saying that eBooks will never replace good old books, made of paper and trees… That the feel of a book is more important than practicality, that its scent is tantalizing. But with the increasing popularity of Kindle, the Nook and the iPad, it’s more and more evident that eBooks are slowly taking over the book industry. I’m personally a huge eBook fan and haven’t purchased a paper volume in ages; since I bought my first iPod Touch back in 2009, I’ve read all my books in digital format. There’s really no point in buying bulky paper books when I can carry hundreds of them in my pocket… literally.
The eBook revolution has started and it seems to go only faster and faster. Could it be the end of traditional books?
A library in your hands
If eBooks are doing so well, it’s primarily because of their convenience. EBook readers, whether we are talking about Kindles, iPads, Nooks, Sony Readers or smartphones, can each carry thousands of books. They are usually very light and made to fit inside your schoolbag, purse or, in the case of the iPhone/iPod, in your pocket. Their backlit monitor (for the newer models that have one) means you can read in total darkness or sunshine. And since all recent eBook readers have integrated Wifi (sometimes even 3G) internet access, you can download new books anywhere at any time. There’s no more going to the library or book shortages. EBooks are a world of literature embedded in a single handheld device.
And who wouldn’t want that, really? It’s almost as if you snap your fingers and a new book materializes in front of you. The prices or eBooks are also usually lower than paper books. I never paid more than $9.99 for an eBook. Most of the books I encountered, even bestsellers, have a price tag varying from $5 to $8. EBooks are very affordable.
But there’s a catch, isn’t there? Well yes; you have to buy the eBook Reader first. Unlike what you might think though, they are not that expensive. Depending on your needs, you will be looking at prices varying between $99 to $300 for regular eBook readers like Kindle and Nook. Different models offer different features but, if you’re on a tight budget, there’s the Nook Simple Touch Reader around $100 or the very basic Kindle for $79. You can also click here if you want to take a look at a comparative chart of all eBook readers.
There’s also the iPad with a higher price tag, but you will not only be getting an eBook reader then; you’ll get a tablet computer that can run complex applications and that can enables you to watch video, listen to music, browse the web, write documents, play games and so much more. If you would like to carry all your media in one single device but are looking for something smaller, there’s the iPod Touch or even the iPhone. Some will say the screens of the iPhone and iPod are a bit small but I’ve been reading on them since forever. You can easily adjust the font size on the iBooks and Kindle apps.
As you can see, eBook readers come in all sizes, shapes and prices. You only have to pick the model that fits your needs and your budget.
Apple’s new textbooks for iPad
It’s hard to speak about the rise of eBooks without talking about Apple’s new textbooks for iPad program. In case you haven’t heard, last week Apple introduced interactive and dynamic virtual textbooks for education. Could this mean the end of heavy schoolbags and expensive textbooks? Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, seems to think so! Textbooks for $15 is what they propose to high schools and, very soon, higher education too.
I remember when my university made me pay almost $50 for a pile of photocopied papers they called a course pack, more than once. I felt cheated every time because they must have been making some good profit out of that mockery of a textbook. As if university wasn’t expensive enough… It seems that in a few years, we could finally see the end of it.
There’s only one tiny problem; iPads are expensive. You will need an iPad with a lot of storage in order to carry around those heavy textbooks (2-3GB each) so we’re talking about a 32 or 64GB for $599 or $699 respectively. Now imagine you have 3 kids going to school… Ka-Ching! $1800 out of your pocket. That’s a lot of money. Regular textbooks would never cost so much and your kids might have reused them or even sold them at the end of the semester.
The dream of every kid owning an iPad filled with beautiful dynamic volumes is sweet but unless Apple and institutions come up with a plan, it’s not going to happen outside private schools. iPads for everyone? Significant rebates for students? 2 for 1 rebates? Free iPads for students with good grades? I’m just throwing in ideas.
Perhaps books will never completely disappear but something’s clear; eBook sales are tripling year over year as paper book sales decline. Nothing seems to be stopping this phenomenon. Are you prepared for the revolution? Will you embrace it or resist it?