Thursday, March 8, 2012

Columnist discusses benefits of digital books

By Alex Domine, A&E Columnist

It wasn’t too long ago that we bought paper before pixels. Digital books are defeating paper books with righteous fury. And it is about time.

The disparity between reading on paper and reading on a screen doesn’t defeat the purpose of a book. Reading a book is about content, not the medium by which the content is reached.

The American Association of Publishers released a sales statistic stating that ebook sales jumped 116 percent from 2010 to 2011.

A statement released by Amazon stated that ebook sales went up by 175 percent between black Friday and Christmas 2011.

According to MSN, digital readers such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook are doubling every year. At this rate, the argument that not everyone has an eReader will be exterminated faster than a caffeinated cheetah.

Digital books are also cheaper. The Hunger Games Boxed Set in hardback costs $31.57 on Amazon. The Kindle version costs $19.99, including auto wireless deliveries.

That cuts back the cost of the book and eliminates shipping and handling altogether.

I would give up traditionalists’ affinity for the sensation of holding a 300-page novel for my affinity for a full wallet. I expect many low-income college students would agree with me.

If sales figures and bank statements aren’t enough to make you give up your paperback, look at it environmentally. Printed and bound books aren’t sustainable.

Trees are a precious resource and if we have the opportunity to save them by shifting to an alternative method of reading, we have a responsibility to take that opportunity.

A report by the Cleantech Group stated that as long as an e-reader owner downloads more than 22 books a year, it will offset the e-reader’s carbon emission within the first year.

I used to be devoted to the experience of holding a novel, the smell of the book, the roughness of pages, the ink.

I subscribed to the idea that reading a book was more about content and that the sensation of holding a good novel was half the experience.

Reading a story on paper and reading a story on a screen are two extremely different creatures.

I’ve changed my stance on the issue. Digital books are in and they’re here to stay.

You can solve a math problem with an abacus but it doesn’t mean the solution is any different than the one you get from a calculator.

I’ve revolutionized my idea of what it means to enjoy a book.

I doubt that pages are going to be outdated anytime soon, but it will definitely happen.