eBooks: Changing Our World
January 12, 2012
I had a conversation with my sister the other day about eReaders. I have one, and yet I still buy books. Out of all of my expenses, now that I have this device, buying a physical book is probably the most illogical thing to do. But I do enjoy holding a book, feeling its weight, and smelling its pages—be it old or new. So why did I buy the eReader?
That’s a good question. I bought it to use for my textbooks, at first. Now, I use it for reading library books that have super long hold lists. I’ll still put myself on hold for both the physical book and the eBook if both are already checked out, but sometimes the eBooks come in faster. It all just depends on when people return the physical books versus the check-out period people choose for the eBook version—which there are three options, 7 days, 14 days, or 21 days.
Now, the discussion with my sister was that this change from books to eBooks is not much different from the change for music from cd’s/cassettes to mp3's. It seemed reasonable to me, but one point I hadn’t considered was that the music switch from physical format to digital has been within this past century, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to grow too accustomed to our CD collections.
Books or codices have been around since Johannes Gutenberg's printing press. We’ve become very much accustomed to books. We love them, but that’s not to say that digital eBooks are terrible. They’re just new, and all new things take time to grow on us.
On a tangential thought, each time we change the format of the pathways through which we transfer information, we gain more access to information. When we made the switch from tablets to scrolls, we had the new ability to save resources because we didn’t have to put the writing in a kiln to make it permanent to the point that even scratching it out couldn’t correct a mistake. With scrolls, people could then fix errors. The same is true for the change from scrolls to codexs or books. We were able to keep more information in one space, and when the printing press came into being, more books could be printed, which made them less expensive and help them become more ubiquitous.
I’m curious to see how eBooks are going to change access to information. An eReader can carry a thousand or more titles on it weighing less than a pound. To do that with books, you’d need to be a body builder. It’s truly amazing how much information one person can carry with an eReader. It will be interesting to see the day when my kids go to school with only and eReader in their backpack.
MCPL continues to grow its collection of eBooks on OverDrive, but we aren't done with real books. We continue to grow our physical collection to give access to the physical books, while also giving you access to eBooks. We want to make books accessible to you in any format you choose.
What do you think of the eBook vs. Book discussion?