Is technology killing the book?

by Dan Burton

In an ever more technological world, new tablet devices are emerging everywhere. They can serve all kinds of purposes but they are all designed to make our hectic lifestyles a little easier and manageable. One industry where tablets are commonplace is the book industry.

As an avid reader and aspiring author, I am always looking for new releases that can take me into a far distant world and put me inside the minds of some wondrous characters. I am also one of millions all over the world that owns a tablet device; Amazon’s Kindle Fire. However I also have an overflowing bookshelf.

Help or hindrance?

512px-Courtbean's_Kindle_Fire

The Kindle Fire was first released in the UK in October 2012. With the capacity to hold hundreds of books and still leaving enough space for apps, it is easy to see the appeal. I enjoy using my Kindle Fire; it is portable, gives me a world of literature at my fingertips and I find it relatively easy to use. But, a quick question to all my friends on Facebook asking them if they preferred reading paper books or a tablet, left me surprised. Below are some of their comments:

“You just can’t beat having the paper version. You get that book smell, it makes for a nice keepsake to have on your shelf once you’ve read it and if you lose it, it’s not as bad as losing the cost of a Kindle. Oh, and you can write in the front cover if you’re giving it to someone as a gift”

“Definitely a book! It’s so much nicer to read and doesn’t strain your eyes as much as a tablet/ kindle… It’s also great to have a big bookshelf full of books. So you can look back at them if you want, or lend it to someone.”

“It’s hard to decide, the new technology is cool, you can read different books at the same time, easier to take notes, finding the book you want, free download sometimes, and cheaper if it was not free, while it’s more enjoyable to read using an actual book moving from page to another. Especially when you finish reading it, great achievement you feel”

“I prefer reading off a tablet, I find it so much easier to carry with me and I do as much uni reading from it as I can because it’s much easier to highlight bits and make notes”

“You can’t beat the book, I was never able to get on with a kindle and find them such a hassle”

“I use a Kindle if I can get free books (or cheap) Great for taking on holiday as you can take loads of books with you. Books are great too as they are more tactile, and if you leave them somewhere they are cheaper than a kindle or iPad.”

So it seems that tablets still have a long way to go before they replace books themselves. Though technology is vastly improving people’s access to literature, the experience of turning the pages and holding a tangible piece of literary genius cannot be replaced as easily. But what do authors themselves think? Jack Croxall, author of the popular young adult novel ‘Tethers’ gives his views on publishing ebooks and paperbacks from the perspective of a self-published author.

 

Tethers Cover

“As a self-published author, I’d have to say I prefer publishing as an ebook! It’s just a far, far easier process, and proofreads and format checks can be done on a computer screen immediately, rather than having to wait for a proof copy to be posted back and forth. Obviously, nothing beats the feeling of having that first paperback copy land in your hands, but, all things considered, it’s an easy choice for me”

Croxall also believes that while tablet readers are helpful and allow readers easy access to thousands of books, there is still no better substitute for turning the pages of a well-written book:

Jack Croxall - Author Photo Portrait

“An ebook can be set at a cheap enough price to attract readers. It’s also helpful that so many can fit onto one device; readers can literally carry thousands around with them. As for paperbacks, they are more expensive but offer (at least in my opinion) the superior reading experience. There is quite simply something joyous about turning pages and devouring a story, something that electronic devices just can’t emulate.”

‘Tethers’ has been released in both an ebook format and as a paperback. Croxall believes that while ebooks are changing the face of the fiction industry, there is still much to be said for a paperback copy. In fact, as he explains below, the two formats have a very interesting relationship:

“I think a book needs to grow popular as an ebook first, and then people will start to invest in the physical version. Some people even buy the paperback immediately after finishing the ebook, if they enjoyed it enough. Personally, my ebooks sell about ten times better than my paperbacks, and I think that’s a fairly representative stat for what you might consider a ‘small-time’ author.”

The enjoyment and experience of reading a book is still prevalent even in today’s technological society. While tablets such as the Kindle and iPad have made carrying around several heavy hardbacks a thing of the past, they are yet to eliminate the excitement that turning the page of an amazing work of literature can bring.

Long Live the Book.

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