Let me say, right from the beginning of this post: Kindles, Kobos and other kinds of e-readers are pretty cool. I recently had the chance to play around with one, and I can understand the appeal behind getting one. The backlight technology makes for a pretty enjoyable reading experience. The unit is light, which is a nice touch for those of us who like to read big, heavy hard-covers. Books can be downloaded pretty much instantly, great for the impatient among us. An e-reader is perfect to take on a vacation, and having your entire library on one piece of technology is pretty appealing.
Now I’m going to argue why you should never own one.
I’m an active reader. I read at least 30 books a year, probably more. I read countless blogs, magazines and interesting articles from the news websites out there. I easily spend an average of an hour a day reading. You could say that I’m the perfect customer for an e-reader. Since I read smartly, I don’t think I’ll ever buy one. Here are my reasons:
I Don’t Buy Many Books
I have to give my library credit for being technologically savvy. I downloaded an app for my iPhone that allows me to search for books and reserve them without even having to crack open my laptop. I can spend time at the bookstore, browsing the titles and previewing them, and request them directly from the library without having to leave the store.
No wonder Borders went bankrupt. You can go into a bookstore, browse the selection, note which book you want to buy, and then buy it for 30% less on the internet. Amazon doesn’t have storefronts, which are really expensive, especially when they take up prime space in shopping malls. Book stores have no choice but to expand into things like games and CDs, which means they’re forced to compete with behemoths like Wal-Mart.
Even though I read plenty of books, I hardly buy any. My library consists of less than 10 books. The books I do own are my absolute favorites, classics I’ll read over and over again. If I get a book as a gift, I usually read it once and get rid of it. I’ll either pass it along to someone who wants to read it or donate it to the library. Which brings me to the next topic.
Why Don’t More People Use Libraries?
I know a guy who owns over 1500 books, yet he doesn’t have a library card. I also know all sorts of other people who’ll read a dozen or so books a year, and yet they don’t set foot in the library. I cannot figure out why more readers don’t use the library.
Every library is technologically advanced enough that you can request a book without talking to anyone. You just go to the library’s website and enter in your request, and a couple weeks later it’s at your branch to pick up. Anyone who knows their way around a computer can do it. Library memberships are either free or close enough to free that they pay for themselves after just one book.
I pay $12 a year for my library membership. If you divide that by the 30 books I read, each book costs me 40 cents to take out. At $10 a book, I’d be paying $300 to read the same amount of material.
I really have no idea why more readers don’t use the library. If you have any ideas, feel free to comment about them.
If you’re one of those people who gets some sort of satisfaction out of your bookshelf, I’m not going to convince you to read smarter. The guy I mentioned earlier who has 1500 books doesn’t have those books for any practical reason. His bookshelf is a source of pride and he hopes people envy his intellectual prowess. If that’s why you collect books, I can’t really help you.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys reading, then you really have no reason to own a book, unless you plan on reading it more than once. Instead of buying an e-reader, which just makes it easier to buy books, you should rent your books. The beauty of renting books is that there exists an institution (subsidized by your tax dollars) that allows you to do it basically for free. Only a moron wouldn’t take advantage of that, and you don’t want to be one of them.