E-Books, much like E-Mail simply refers to an electronic copy of a book. In that sense, ever sense reproducible digital type has existed so too has, at least the concept, of E-Books. What has changed in recent times is how easily digestible these E-Books have become. Reading an E-Book from a PC isn’t at all practical or convenient as it’s not portable or comfortable, even a laptop doesn’t or mobile phone doesn’t really have the right size and dimension to make reading and electronic copy of a book something that is easy and comfortable to do.
Thus the invention of E-Book readers or Ereaders, most notably things like Kindle. These are devices made specifically to read E-Books. Entire books are downloaded onto an Ereader, multiple books can be saved on the same reader and they are a size that is convenient to hold, to take on the train and read with or take to bed. To that end, they allow you to read an E-book in the same way that you’d read a traditional physical book.
Obviously, due to the diverse nature of both books and Ebooks an Ereader isn’t required to read and E-book, this could just as easily be done on your smart phone or tablet. However as Ereaders are designed specifically to read on, they have design features that are more ideal for it, from ease of use to lighting the make reading on an Ereader less harsh on your eyes.
The use of an Ereader to read E-Books is largely about convenience. You save space in terms of having to physically store books that can often be pretty large. It’s easier to carry a single Ereader than multiple books which can often be quiet heavy and it’s easier to download a book from wherever you want at whatever time you want than it is to go to a bookstore to try and find a book.
On the other hand the arguments for physical books are based in romanticism. We still live in a culture that likes having ideas linked to physical objects. The same sentimentality is reflected in the film vs digital debate in cinema. People still tend to link a physical item with to having a connection with the original idea, where as digital copies are still perceived as more objective and detached. Ebooks also make the idea of conspicuous consumption harder. Again in the same way Mp3’s have made showing off your music collection harder, and digital films will make showing off your collection of movies harder, so too Ebooks will make it harder to show off your impressive library. Up until recently a function in favour of the book was your ability to annotate, with that said it is a function the Ereaders are now replicating.
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