Friday, September 3, 2010

eReaders and eBooks: I Think I’ll Pass

I love all the latest technology – who doesn’t? – but not everything is better when technology is added. Take eBooks for example. Something seems so cold and clinical about sitting down with an eReader and reading a book electronically. It seems more like work. On the other hand, reading a book the “old-fashioned” way – you know, opening the book and leafing through the pages as the story progresses – seems far more leisurely and relaxing. It’s also a lot of fun walking through a bookstore and just seeing what's out there. Sometimes the process of buying a book, for oneself or as a gift, can be fun and entertaining. One never knows what treasure one will find.

The biggest drawback to eBooks is not the delivery of the product from a reader’s eyes to their brains; it’s the PRICE of the eBook. Something that is delivery electronically – no paper, no binding, no handling, etc. – seems to have a fairly hefty price tag. While it may seem less than the cost of a hardcover book, it’s often far more than the cost of a paperback. If publishing an eBook has taken so many raw materials and labor out of the process, why are consumers not seeing a savings? I can’t imagine that the marketing of an eBook is any more costly than the marketing of a normal, print book.

eBooks also have another annoying trait – there doesn’t seem to be a way for a person to lend an eBook to a friend or family member to share. I also don’t have to pay extra to buy an eReader so I can read my printed book – or my print newspaper.

eReaders, and products like the iPad, seem to be products that were created to deliver content to consumers, so publishers of printed books, magazines, and newspapers can find yet another way to make money. The problem with newspapers and magazines is that they already let that horse out of the barn when many publications offered free content on the Internet. Of course, that was after they discovered that many people don’t want to pay extra for news and magazine content on the Internet. Some newspapers are trying to re-institute pay walls, and I say good luck with that.

I am not completely closed to the idea of eReaders and eBooks, but I do believe that they need to price the readers AND the books at much lower price points if they want the masses to accept them. With so many more options for entertainment these days, people can afford to walk away from books as entertainment if the delivery mechanism and content is too pricey.

So for now, I am going to pass on an eReader. Call me a romantic, but I like getting something tangible – you know, something that I can hold in my hands or lend to someone if I see fit – for my head earned money.

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