Over the past couple years I’ve had a bit of an about face regarding eBooks. When they first started becoming popular, I loathed them. I was an active participant in the group of people talking about how much they “loved the feel of a book” and how they “loved their bookshelves”…etc.
Fast forward to right now… and I LOVE eBooks. I absolutely love them. And I will tell you why.
I recently got back from a long vacation and loved being able to bring as many books as I want. I read two books in their entirety and dabbled in 3 others. Before eBooks this wasn’t possible. Well, it would be, but my back would be killing me!
I also love taking notes while I read; with eBooks (at least with the iBooks app on the iPad, I don’t know about other platforms) I can do just this without having to decipher my chicken scratch at a later point in time and all my notes, along with the text of the book itself, is instantly searchable. I’m horrible with remembering little details or fabulous quotes. Being able to instantly search for them is a godsend.
I love that I can read in bed late at night with the lights off so that I don’t keep my wife awake.
And the wanna-be eco friendly human inside me is happy that a tree doesn’t have to be cut down just for me to read a book. As lovely as my bookshelf is, I think I can get past that vanity.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love physical books. In fact, I collect old books. I really do love how they feel, as well as the type treatments, illustrations, and most importantly, that smell. And I will continue buying them. In my mind, though, there is a clear difference between old books made by hand and modern books made by a machine in a factory. I’ve purchased too many books where chapters were upside down, or completely missing. These books aren’t, in my opinion, an object that I need to hold onto and pass down to kids or have take up space in my apartment. And after moving to a new city this year, I think I’m ready to ditch almost all of them so that there will be fewer boxes to move next time.
Now, though there are a lot of things I love about eBooks, there is one big elephant still in the room that I haven’t talked about - DRM, or Digital Rights Management. For some reason the publishers didn’t learn a thing from the Apple/Record Label discussions 5 years prior. People do not want DRM. It’s akin to buying a DVD on Amazon and you then have to play it on an Amazon branded DVD player. It’s ridiculous that they want to control what I can do with a product after I’ve purchased it. And this isn’t just Amazon, it’s everyone, including Apple. The publishers (big and small) demand it. This means that I have to have an app for each group selling their book. This is outrageous and completely unusable. I don’t want to have to learn 4-5 different eReading apps.
Now, there are some publishers who sell DRM free eBooks, but they are few and far between and they aren’t offering many New York Times bestsellers.
DRM was one of the leading issues of why I originally disliked eBooks and was the primary reason I never bought a song off of iTunes. So what changed my mind? This article by Wired. I don’t want to post the instructions here due to legal issues, but if you want to start buying eBooks - and you don’t want the hassle of DRM - then this article is for you. It will give instructions to help you strip out the DRM.
And since I’d like to end this on a good note, a new eBook was just announced by a former Pixar designer. This is, in my opinion, the future of eBooks…and it looks pretty amazing.