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My torrid affair with e-reading

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Clearly, we are all both readers and Internet users. There has been a lot of discussion (ironically, most of it online) about how the electronic age has affected the time – and more importantly, the money – people spend on print media. Book bloggers and sites like LibraryThing may be able to make up for some of the losses sustained by the disappearance of newspapers (and the book reviews within), but the damage inflicted goes far beyond what recommending a good book can repair. I wrote my final paper for my recent English composition class on this topic, and while I won’t subject you to the paper itself, I really don’t feel like I even began to talk about it in any real depth.

Personally, I am addicted to books themselves. Nothing in the world is quite like the feel, sound, and smell of the first time a brand new hardcover is opened. That has not, however, completely prevented me from testing other means of enjoying fine literature, particularly those novels which are in the public domain, and free to read via various means (we mentioned Gutenberg earlier, and there are other sources through my Stanza reader application on my iPod, as well). I will probably never own a Kindle or other dedicated e-reader, but I have to admit that the convenience of a “book collection” that fits in my pocket is pretty unbeatable. So far, though, I’ve been purchasing paper copies of the books I read electronically or listen to on audiobook/MP3, and thus keeping a good chunk of my income flowing directly to local sellers of both new and used books. So yes, I have a clandestine love affair with e-books, but I will always return to my stable, supportive, memory-filled shelves of “real” books, in the end.

What are your thoughts on the state of the publishing industry, and the internet’s connection to the demise of print media? Are you digging in your heels against Amazon’s ubiquitous hold on book sales worldwide? Gleefully donating your physical books as you replace them with digital copies? Trying to find a happy medium between keeping up with technology and keeping bookstores from folding altogether?