It's no surprise by now that eReaders are popular; while Amazon won't report exactly how many Kindle devices it sold in 2010, many sources estimate the big number is around 8 million. However, don't be counting me among one of those new owners anytime soon.
There's a few reasons why, but first let me start by saying that I totally get the appeal of eReader devices and their benefits. If I were in college, I'd most certainly buy one; imagine, no more lugging around 4-5 heavy textbooks on my shoulder when I could download them all into a light reading device. If I traveled a lot for business, I'd probably have a Nook so that I didn't have to stuff my favorite magazines into my carry-on bag. There's also some evidence that kids would read more if they were reading books on an eReader.
eReaders are certainly transportable and convenient, but unless I really need one I don't necessarily want one. Why not? Well, let me list a few reasons:
I Like Books
I mean an actual physical book, made of paper and binding, in my hands. I guess for me, books make reading a partially sensory experience as you turn the pages, feel the smooth laminated covers, and experience the heft of their weight. Books are organic in a way (they're made of paper, after all) and are warm to me versus a cold, hard piece of technology. When I finish a particularly large novel it's a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, because the weight reminds me of the large amount of pages that I was reading.
Borrowing Books is Cheaper
OK, maybe not by much: according to my quick Google research, downloading a book onto a Kindle can cost anywhere generally from $0 to $10 or so. Still, as I rarely purchase a copy of a novel that's most likely only going to be read once, I'd much rather request the book from my library and save the money.
Other People Can't See What You're Reading
A few years ago I read an article - from the NY Times, I believe - that discussed the dangers that Kindles and other eReaders posed to a book's cover art. After all, if you're reading on a digital device in a public place then other people can't see what book you're reading. Maybe in some cases that's good for the eReader's owner, but bad for the authors whose books are losing some of their in-person advertising and value as a conversation piece.
They Cannot Replace Coffee Table Books
Some books are just meant to be big, tangible and flipped through, like a full color coffee table book full of luscious photographs. eReaders have screens that are too small to capture the glory of photos and if I'm not mistaken, most of them still display only in black and white. How are you supposed to show off a worthy book to house guests by leaving a Kindle out on your coffee table?
I did think of another advantage to using an eReader: you're saving paper and therefore trees, not to mention space on your bookshelves. I guess in that respect they're more environmentally friendly than paper-based reading products. Still, I just can't fathom running out and buying one anytime soon.
How about you Go Retro fans? Are you an eReader owner and if so, what do you like/dislike most about it?