Tuesday, September 13, 2011

E-Reading in the Bathtub?

Okay, so a lot of people say that e-readers never will replace print because they just, well, love paper books so much.

I get it. When I get a new hardbound book and crack open the cover for the first time, the smell is intoxicating. I swear publishers put some kind of drug in the book binding glue to make it so addictive. But I also love my e-reader, and have been using it more and more... and in some cases, I'm preferring it over some paper books (because it isn't as heavy).

Also, in June 2011, adult paperback books plunged 64% from last year, while e-book sales went up 161 percent. This suggests that while many hardcover books are still being purchased (though it dropped 25 % in the same month), people who just want to read a book for the sake of the words, and not the format (i.e. paperback readers), are starting to gravitate towards e-books.

Libraries have growing digital collections, and some libraries have already started lending e-readers. I think in the future, it will be common practice for libraries will have little sitting areas with e-readers attached, where people can lounge and basically read anything that is public domain, or part of the library's collection. Which I think would be kind of cool, especially for people who can't afford to buy an e-reader.

When e-books first came on the scene, they were only available on computers, so they were hardly seen as a threat to the paper publishing industry. But since then, e-reader technology has made them look and feel like a book, and with e-ink, it almost looks like you are reading the actual page of a book. The technology still has a ways to go in terms of fully emulating a paper book, but who knows where it might be five years from now.

So when I saw this, I had to laugh a little. Fujitsu has made a tablet that can be read in the tub. So if you use such a tablet for e-reading, you could conceivably e-read in the tub now.

I laughed for a couple of reasons.

1. Why on earth would someone WANT take a tablet into the tub in the first place? (Seriously? Can we disconnect from technology for at least the few minutes of the day when we're washing ourselves?)

2. I just had seen someone remark that paper books are here to stay because you can't take an e-reader in the tub.

Future of E-Reading?
(Image from: http://www.stresscafe.com/bookseries.htm
So what if they decided to make all e-readers bath friendly? How about if they started creating e-readers that emitted the "new book smell" every time you downloaded a book?

On the one hand, I could see this as a way to reach out traditional book lovers, on the other hand, I think it is a hilarious idea that technology would or should go through so much effort to emulate the printed format of books, when the format itself is just so different.

This all actually kind of reminds me of the earliest mass produced cars. They were made to look a lot like a horse-drawn carriage, because that's what people were used to seeing, and it became a selling point to those who liked "traditional" means of transportation. Hence, the "horseless carriage."

Same Carriage, No Horse!
Eventually, I think our society will move past the affection for the printed book altogether (if technology continues at this rate and we don't self-destruct before then). I'm not saying this will happen in a year, or two, or ten, but truth be told, after getting an e-reader, I got rid of a lot of my paper books. I still have a ton, but I have stopped wanting to purchase paper books for my collection, when I can have them all in one place.

It's hard to explain, but I still love the traditional book format. There's nothing quite like it. But when I consider that it is my nostalgia and childhood memories of reading that draws me to the printed word, I consider how generations after my own will view the medium if they grow up reading tablets or e-readers. Will they have the same kind of affection for the printed word as I do? Or will it be considered a "quaint" thing like horse drawn carriages?

18 comments:

  1. I still love having a good book.....but when you travel alot you can't drag around your epic 800 page hardcover with you....never mind the weight restrictions for your luggage. E-reading is becoming more practical in today's society

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  2. Reading in the tub is one of my favorites things. In fact, it's my favorite place to read. I'll take an actual book or my Kindle with me. I just depends on whatever I'm reading at the time. So, while I understand that you think people should disconnect from technology to wash themselves, I find it one of the most relaxing things I do.

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  3. I'm still of the old school idea of sticking to actual books. People keep telling me to switch over, but it is so difficult for me to do that. It's crazy that they've made a bath-friendly e-reader though.

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  4. I love this post. I like my hardcover books too, but do you know how much easier it is to throw my Nook in my purse and be off.

    I know it's not the brightest thing ever, but I do take my e reader to the tub and read. I shower to get clean, bathe to relax. LOL!

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  5. Hahahah this made me lowl. I do love my hard copy books. You can tote them around everywhere, they're smaller than the typical e-reader, you can keep them forever, and read without running out of batteries. However, there are more and more offers of "free downloads" for book bloggers and reviewers from sites such as netgalley or galleygrab, which is incredibly convenient if you want to get your hands on an advanced copy. I don't have an ereader, just yet (iPad for Christmas :) ) but I can admit that I want one just for the purpose of downloading all those free reads! I have gone out and bought the book after I've read the free download though. I love filling up my bookshelves :) 

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  6. Yes. That's exactly how I feel. Truth be told, I love sitting in front of a classic hardback. But when it comes down to it, I love carrying around something small that has so much content!

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  7. Jenni, oh I totally understand! I've taken a book into the tub before. But this tablet thing is less like an ereader and more like a computer. So I'm imagining people answering emails, facebooking, blogging, from the tub. Which I think is kind of funny. I wouldn't take my ereader in the tub because it isn't waterproof. And truth be told, I'm not really a bath person, but a shower person. 

    I guess if you're already taking your ereader in the tub, you could benefit from a waterproof one in the future. haha

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  8. That's cool. Tho when people say they like sticking to "actual" books, they are implying that I'm not reading an "actual" book on my ereader. But audio books are still considered "actual" books too. It's really a love of the format of "book," not the actual written word. (And I love the traditional format too! But it isn't practical for me a lot of the time.)

    But I get it. I was the same way until about a year and  a half ago... But now that I've dabbled in the black arts of ereader, I'm afraid I've been corrupted. ;)

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  9. Bahahahhaha.

    Just DON'T DROP IT. lol

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  10. Anna, so true. Content has become way more accessible for me with my e-reader. Especially since I'm stuck at home all day without a car, the only way I can get new books is through my computer. So e-books are a lifesaver for my sanity. 

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  11. Yeah, that is a little excessive. Sometimes I put my iPhone on the side of the tub because I want it for it's dictionary purposes while I'm reading, but I don't do anything else.

    I'm also a shower person. I only take baths to relax, not to clean myself. So, the waterproof one isn't that big of a deal to me. I have dropped a book or my Kindle in the water yet. *knocks on wood*

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  12. Lari, this made me laugh. I think of relaxation as disconnecting from technology. So to me, a bath is the best example of a time when physical books make the most sense. Light some candles, get some bubbles going, and read! But who needs candles when your book (screen) glows? And how relaxing is it to be afraid to drop your e-reader in the water? Although I guess now a traditional book would be less save-able than a waterproof reader. What a hoot!

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  13. lol. Screen lit romantic dinners would be a hoot as well. hahaha

    I know, I couldn't relax either if I think one false move could cost me a pretty penny.

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  14. Yay. I love making you smile Jen. :)

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  15. Oh Lari! I so didn't mean to put-down how you read. I'm just a traditionalist. :p

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  16. LOL. I get it. I know. I didn't think you were putting me down at all! :D

    It's all good.

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  17. I don't have an eReader, but I find myself using reading apps alot, especially the Kindle app. I like the convenience of being able to get a book immediately. Instant gratification and all that. I still buy regular print as well. It honestly depends how badly I want to read a book vs. the inconvenience of there not being a book store open 24/7. I'm not ready to give up print books altogether. I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to formats.

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