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Amazon recently announced that, in the UK at least, sales of its eBooks for its Kindle reader are now beginning to outpace its sales of regular old printed books.
But which is actually better and does the Kindle really herald the death of the days of mass printing?
The information that Amazon have released contains a few interesting snippets of information, namely that they are selling 114 eBooks for every 100 hardbacks sold and that UK Kindle users seem to be buying four times as they would have done before they bought one.
I would be wary about jumping on these figures and deducing that the book is a dying dinosaur and surplus to requirement. Instead, let’s have a look at the pros and cons!
The Young Contender: The Kindle
The kindle has been around since 2007 and is now into its fourth generation. The device allows users to browse, purchase and download books, print media, blogs and other forms of digital media through the power of wireless networks.
So here are the main pros:
- A Kindle lets you carry multiple books without weighing you down
- The built in lighting means that you can read at night without having to keep a light on
- You can have downloaded a book about 15 seconds after deciding o buy it, and eBooks are generally cheaper than their hardback equivalents
- You can adjust the font size and add other useful features such as a dictionary to help if you are grappling with something particularly wordy like a Will Self novel or something
Kindles do look like their storage space and easy usability could whoop the good old book if it came to a showdown…
The Long Time Champion: The Book
Apart from representing some of mankind’s greatest achievements throughout the millennia, books also have some other benefits:
- If you count buying the actual kindle itself, books are much cheaper
- You can read them in the bath without the danger of causing a very costly accident which would include the destruction of your entire book collection
- You can actually hold each one of them in your hand, turn the pages, make notes and interact with them on a physical level
- You can’t have an eBook signed by your favourite author
- It won’t run out of battery
Perhaps the best thing about a traditional printed book is the fact that each book you own not only tells the story or facts contained inside it, but it can also take on a special significance in your own life.
Is This Really the Slow Death of the Book?
The answer to this question is: not really, the kindle does not represent the terminal decline of the book, just its next evolution. Books have come a long way since they were made using clay tablets and papyrus thousands of years ago, but the basic idea of reading remains the same.
So while the Kindle makes life a little easier, it is not like you can put all your eBooks on your shelves and marvels at all the different sizes, colours and names and feel like you truly own a collection. So people will still buy and probably cherish their hard copies more than their downloaded eBook.
Which one do you personally prefer when reading a book? And have you thought about purchasing a Kindle or an equivalent yet?
Elise Lévêque is a lively and free-spirited freelance translator who can often be spotted reading in a cafe in her adopted home town of London. She is known as being someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously, although her Geordie boyfriend and blogging partners at Tinten Experten may have something to say about that.