Print Books vs. E-Books – Part 3

This is a follow up post to my previous post: Print Books VS. E-Books and Print Books VS E-Books – Part 2.

Amazon might promote Kindle E-Reader as device ‘for the love of reading.’ But we would get locked into Amazon’s system if we buy the Kindle E-reader. A friend of mine reads using his smart phone through Kindle e-Reading app as well as Flipkart’s e-reading app. He says he does comparison shopping and buys from the vendor who offers a book at the lowest price.

Reading only using e-reader also makes it difficult to come across interesting books other than what Amazon’s or other such vendors’s recommendation algorithm would suggest. In one particular instance, I was watching Barry Shwartz’s TED video on my laptop and then decided to buy his book, ‘The Paradox of Choice’. Using only the e-reader would rule out possibilities like these.

While most of the time we come across opinions that portray Social Media as unnecessary distraction, they can be useful too. Most non-fiction authors take between one year and three years to publish a new book. Following them on Social Media sites like Twitter would help us to find out about any follow up research or development after a book (on a particular topic) got published. Professors/Authors like Steven Pinker, Richard Thaler, Dan Ariely and Nassim Nicholas Taleb post about interesting ongoing academic research from their respective Twitter handles quiet often. Some of these ongoing research might act as supplement to the book that we might be reading. As is always the case with any social media we have to have the discipline to selectively browse and read, otherwise we will be wasting our time. This is where a general purpose device like a smartphone or a tablet might come in handy rather than a dedicated e-reader.

Having access social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp will also help us to share with our friends and acquaintances about what book we are reading. Rather than a way of just bragging, we can use these tools to share quotes, anecdotes, statistics, etc. from the book that we are reading. About a few days ago I was reading an article by James Altucher on Pope Francis. I found a quote by Pope Francis about the media very interesting and I shared it via my Twitter handle. What’s the fun of any activity including reading if we cannot assimilate (good) aspects of it into our personality and bring it to the fore in our social interactions? Reading from sources like blogs, forums and websites will also not be possible with a dedicated e-reader.

Having a general purpose device like a smartphone or tablet can be useful in other situations as well. On a couple of occasions, I have taken snaps at the most unlikeliest of places and times using my smartphone and used these snaps later to write blog posts (Examples: Urban Nomads, Free Bird Peeking at Caged Birds and Cloud – awkward wingman). There was another occasion when I was waiting in the reception of a dental clinic while my wife was getting her dental procedure done, I opened the Kindle e-reading app and read a book.

With passage time displays in smartphones and tablets might improve to negate some of the advantage enjoyed by e-readers. There might be some new development such as in spectacles and contact lens that can eliminate or at least drastically reduce the eye strain developed due to reading on smartphone or tablet displays.

Amazon markets its Kindle e-reader with the tagline: “For the love of reading.” In a way, we can assume, any e-reader carries a hidden tagline: ‘For the confinement of reading from e-books alone.”   While there is no doubt that e-books are superior to printed books on a number of utility factors, a dedicated e-reader is not absolutely necessary to enjoy these benefits. Ultimately buying and owning a dedicated e-reader is more a matter of affordability and preference than any technological requirement to enjoy e-books. A general purpose device like a smartphone or a tablet would allow us to read from a myriad sources in addition to e-books. We can actually use a smartphone or a tablet as a device to fulfil and enhance our ‘love for reading’ provided we only have the discipline to do so.

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