The technology in today’s world would have seemed “Buck Roger-ish” back in the day when telephones plugged into the wall, and a “text” was a schoolbook. Think of all the new terms that have come into the language since then, too: Internet, laptop, e-mail, upload, download, website, I-Pad, Wi-Fi, SmartPhone, and e-book, to name a few.
An article on the latter — e-books — appeared in our newspaper a while ago. It was a pro and con debate, two views on the subject, written by a couple of spunky high school kids. The Pro side called e-books “an eco-friendly approach to reading,” the Con took the position that “e-books provide readers with limited options.”
The Pro argument went like this:
(1) E-books are eco-friendly because they save on the number of trees being cut down for paper. Statistics show that the world consumption of that commodity has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. What’s not to like about slowing down tree genocide?
(2) An e-reader, such as a Kindle from Amazon or a Nook from Barnes & Noble, weighs less than the average printed book and can hold 100 times more material. Think of carrying all that around in your backpack!
(3) The condition of the books on an e-reader remain the same no matter how many times you read them. Your dog can’t chew them up, you can’t ruin them by spilling coffee on them or leaving them out in the rain.
(4) Despite the initial cost of an e-reader, they are economical, too, because books are cheaper to purchase — a fraction of the cost of a print edition — and many websites give away books as bundle discounts or simply for free. Try asking your local bookstore for that kind of a deal!
Conclusion: E-books make more sense, ecologically and economically, in modern times.
The Con side of the debate had this to say:
(1) It’s true that e-readers are one of the must-haves in the world of “techno-gadgets,” but there are a few facts to consider before going digital.
(2) Want to share a favorite book with a friend? With a printed copy you simply hand it over and hope to get it back someday. Unless you are willing to part with your pricey Kindle or Nook for the time it takes him to read it, you can’t do it.
(3) Although there are people who buy books as investments, the average person only wants to read them a single time. This means that borrowing from the library or buying used is a better deal than paying up to $9.99 to view them once on your Kindle. Add in the initial price of the e-reader and it’s costly, especially If you read a lot.
(4) There is no limit to where, or how long, you can read a printed book. E-readers can only be used so long before their batteries need recharging. And some have screens that can’t be used in direct sunlight. For people who like to read at the pool or the beach, an e-reader just won’t cut it.
(5) And then there’s the look, and the feel of a printed book with a hard cover, a shiny dust jacket, and real paper pages that you turn yourself. E-readers may look flashy, but they can’t compete with all that.
Conclusion: E-books limit your options, compared to “real” books.
I agree with the “Con” position, preferring the look and feel of a “real” book to reading one off a screen, but times change. Now all my own books, including those originally in hard cover, are available only in digital. Grudgingly, I bought a Kindle “Fire” and put them all on it, including the latest, a new edition of Boardinghouse Stew. It contains dozens of photographs, many in color, and that’s where I notice an advantage over the print edition. The backlighting on the Kindle seems to lift them right off the page.
Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?
E.E. (Evelyn Eileen) Smith lives close to her native San Francisco, in the “Wine Country” of northern California. She became a professional writer after retiring from earlier careers as an architectural designer and a litigation paralegal. Known primarily as a playwright at first — her plays have been produced in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and both northern and southern California — she later became a novelist. A New Edition of the first novel, Boardinghouse Stew, along with the sequel, Times Like These, was published in 2011. In Love and War, A Memoir, followed in 2012. A series of murder mysteries will debut on November 29th of this year. The first in the series is titled Death by Misadventure. Three more will follow in 2014.
She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today. To see her blog, go to
Her website is www.eesmithwriter.com.
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