Will The Portable eBook Reader Kill Books?

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2010 appears to be the year of the portable eBook reader – the Amazon Kindle has been the hottest selling gadget for months, and eBooks outsold traditional paper books over Christmas of 2009. However, the news has prompted much debate over the question ‘will the eReader make traditional books obsolete?’

The Argument Against the Portable eBook Reader

Portable eBook reader
Portable eBook reader

The eReader is undoubtedly becoming more and more popular, however there are a number of reasons why it’s growth in popularity could be slowed. For a start, the price of an eBook reader – even the cheapest model – is many, many times more than the price of a book. On top of the reader itself, there is still the cost of each new eBook to consider. Unfortunately, eBooks cost roughly the same as traditional printed books.

There is also the fact that the traditional book is a part of our history, and a part of our culture. There are people who love the feel of a book, who love to fold down the pages and love to make notes. People love browsing libraries and bookstores and seeing the books in their physical form, which eBooks can never replace.

In fact, books become an artifact from history in their own right. Some might argue that paper books have a far longer lifespan than a gadget ever could – as we all know they eventually tend to break down or simply become obsolete.

The Argument for the Portable eBook Reader

Many people say that you can’t understand the experience of an eBook reader until you have one of your own. Even some of the strongest book lovers have found themselves converted to digital format, and see eBooks as the format of the future.

Indeed, many business and universities already make use of digital forms of books to help make them more accessible. Students can simply read papers and chapters from home, rather than having to go out to the library and carry heavy books back with them. Most of the top eBook readers even allow for annotations – making eBook readers far more valuable than simply displaying words on a screen.

A Middle Ground on Books vs eReaders?

The middle ground states that, whilst eBook readers will continue to grow in popularity, and eBooks will become more and more widely accepted, there will still be a place for the physical book in our lives. However, the portable eBook reader will make books more accessible, especially through the help of free libraries such as Project Gutenberg. It isn’t impossible to love both physical books and electronic versions!

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