My Love-Hate Relationship with eBooks

I have been an advocate for eBooks for a couple of years now, but in spite of the the flexibility and features that eBooks provide, my relationship with them is not always as loving is it could be.  Let me start by listing all the things I love about eBooks:

  1. Portability: Being able to take a dozen books with me when I go on trips is wonderful (and taking them without breaking my back).  Being able to have my book with me whenever I have my iPhone with me is great, especially when I’m stuck in a doctor’s office, or on a bus.
  2. Ease of Purchase: No need to travel across town to go to the book store.  I can buy books on my iPhone or computer, and then have instant delivery to all my devices.
  3. Instant Dictionary Access: With some books in particular, being able to simply click on a word and instantly get a dictionary definition has made a high difference in my reading comprehension and enjoyment. Last summer I read the 20 book Master and Commander series, and found the dictionary feature to be invaluable as I was introduced into all sorts of archaic English and old nautical terms.
  4. Ability to see where other’s have highlighted parts of the book (in the Kindle app): This is a great flag to let me know when I should slow down and really pay attention when I’m reading.  This would be particularly helpful when reading text books.
  5. Syncing bookmarks between devices. As a person with multiple reading devices (and iPad and iPhone) being able to switch back and forth between the two, and have them both keep track of where I am in the book is an extremely handy feature.
  6. Lastly as a person who’s eyes are starting to grow older, I can envision a day when I will appreciate the ability to increase the font size of the books I’m reading, without have to purchase a large text book.

In summary, eBooks have a lot of great things going for them.  What is there not to like? Unfortunately a few things… Now for my list of complaints that turn my relationship with eBooks rocky from time to time:

  1. DRM is Evil! Most of my complaints below would go away if Digital Rights Management (DRM) software was not used when publishing eBooks.
  2. Cannot copy and past a paragraph into an email or to Facebook.
  3. I cannot choose the eBook reader I want to read my eBooks in.  If I buy an eBook from Amazon, I have to read it in the Kindle reader. If I buy a eBook from Apple, I can only read it in the Apple iBook reader.  I should be able to choose which app I want to read my books in no matter what store I’ve purchased it in.
  4. I can’t put my eBooks on my bookshelf at home to show off to visitors what books I’ve read, and what some of my interests are for (I guess that is what GoodReads.com is for).
  5. Apocalypse protection:  If I’m away from civilization for some reason, and cannot charge me electronic devices, my beautiful eBook readers turn into pretty paper weights.
  6. For some people the color screens on tablets are hard on their eyes.  For them, color eBook readers are a no go.

So yes, I do love my eBooks, but as in most relationships there is definitely room for growth and improvement.  While I’m waiting for eBook vendors to improve I’ll enjoy reading books on my iPad and iPhone and try to ignore the shortcomings.

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Posted in education, Work

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