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E-book readers the next chapter in technology PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

As Americans turn the next page in the history books, they certainly cannot count out the rise in popularity of electronic book readers, a handy gadget that has transformed the way that page will be turned. Literally.

An e-book is simply the digital version of a book that can be read on a portable electronic device.

Despite the expensive price tag on e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook, popularity of this technology trend is rising.

Pew Internet Project reported the number of adults who owned e-readers in the United States doubled from November 2010 to May 2011, jumping from six to 12 percent.

In addition to the time, money and storage space saved, these devices are simply appealing. “It’s because you have that technology in your hand,” said Chandra Parker. Reading suddenly becomes more fun.

The Parkers have seen an increase in reading in their house since investing in e-readers.

Chandra’s daughter Brooke loves her Barnes & Noble Nook for its convenience. Since she was buying books from Barnes & Noble anyway, her Nook allows her to purchase and download a book within seconds using her Barnes & Noble account.

She said so far the electronic book store has had all the books she wanted, most for around $10, which is cheaper than what she would pay for the hard copy. Free Book Friday and $0.99 books also help save money in the long run.

Chandra noted the family is all on the same Barnes & Noble account, so they can share books easily simply by downloading them onto their individual devices without paying any extra costs.

Apple’s iPad is the device of choice for Chandra. As a tablet computer, the iPad has many more capabilities than the stand-alone e-readers, but it is still a great way to read books using reader applications.

Chandra mostly uses the Nook app, allowing her to tap into the family’s Barnes & Noble account, but she has several other reader apps on her iPad, including one for reading the Bible.

Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is another popular bestseller, and two-year Kindle owner Sheri Knight is certainly proof of why this technology craze has caught on. She smiled, remembering how her husband Kendell bought her her Kindle.

Knight was buying lots of books, so she was quickly running out of space in her house, not to mention the space books take up on a long road trip. The Kindle, even though it’s roughly the size of one paperback book, can hold thousands of e-books, so it was a great option for this quick reader.

She explained how she can use wireless internet to connect to the Amazon store. It also has capabilities to use Amazon’s Whispersync technology to download books on the go—the only downside is the coverage area doesn’t include Holyoke.

Like the Nook, Knight pays around $10 for her Kindle books. She said she’s read some books she normally wouldn’t, simply because they were on sale for $0.99. On Amazon, users can also download the public domain classics for free.

With dozens of e-readers on the market today, they offer a wide range of features.

Many use electronic paper technology, essentially making the screen look exactly like a page from a book. Even though it does not light up, this technology allows users to read in bright sunlight without any glare.

It also allows for a long battery life—not requiring a re-charge for weeks at a time—because the only time it uses the battery is when a page is turned.

Tablets and smartphones with reader applications will have a backlight, shortening the battery life, but also allowing for reading in the dark, color photos and even animated e-books.

Some readers have touch screens and can even browse the web. Others can read the book aloud to the user or even play background music after songs are uploaded to its memory.

If people are using multiple devices, switching from their desktop computer to their reader is easy as the e-book program will keep track of where they left off in their book. Users can also utilize the built-in dictionary feature or highlighting capabilities.

If all of that wasn’t enough, users have the option to change the screen color, font and font size to whatever they prefer.

The Parkers and Knight all said they’ve primarily used their readers for purchasing fiction novels, but the electronic libraries include everything from newspapers to cookbooks and how-to manuals to textbooks.

If people can get lost in the pages of a book, engrossed in the characters and story line, they can certainly get lost in the pages of an e-book, exploring the many possibilities of an electronic reader.

 





With 12 percent of American adults owning an electronic reader, devices like the iPad with a Nook application
and the Barnes & Noble Nook reader are growing in popularity.                 —Enterprise photo





Have books gone out of style?

There’s no denying technology is appealing and fun to explore, but has the introduction of e-books eliminated the need for paper books?

“You will see a decrease in books printed on paper, and I think that’s sad,” said Knight.

The electronic world is certainly having a negative effect on the print world.

“Any time there is something new in technology, people want to try it out,” said Laura Krogmeier. But for this small book store owner, she still sees a need for paper books, despite the convenience of e-readers.

“There is still an element about having a book in your hand,” she said.

“I am always going to be supporting books,” said librarian Laura Roth. “I just prefer to hold a book in my hands.”

Not only is it the feel of the pages, a library of books is visually appealing, and antique or rare books can even be used for decoration in a home or office.

Paper books can be passed from one user to another, whether it’s a birthday present, library check-out, garage sale treasure, family heirloom or charity donation.

There’s no guarantee how long digital copies of books will last or how compatible they will be with devices in the future. Books, on the other hand, can last for hundreds of years.

“I still see a need for books, especially for young kids,” mentioned Chandra, who is an elementary school teacher. There is something special about watching a child read a book, letting their imagination take over.

She said some of the children’s e-books are almost like movies now, taking away from the original illustrations and the anticipation building on a child’s face as each page is turned.

Roth said some big city libraries now have audio books available for check-out as digital downloads, but small town libraries simply do not have the funds to keep up with that type of technology.

The price tag on electronic readers is also limiting the number of people in America and around the world who can take advantage of this technology.

So the question remains: What does the future hold for electronic books and paper books? It is a story that has yet to be written.






Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is about the same size and
weight of a regular paperback book, yet with the ability
to hold thousands of electronic books, all available at the
push of a button.

­—Enterprise photo




Holyoke Enterprise July 7, 2011