Friday, September 2, 2011

Back to School with E-Books

As a new school year begins, I reflect back on some of the things I loved most about being a student. Reading was my favorite subject because it allowed me to travel back in time or forward to a point in the future that my own mind couldn’t fathom. Through her every book, my favorite childhood author, Laura Ingalls Wilder made me part of her family and let me live life alongside her and the rest of the Ingalls. I lived in California, where snow wasn’t part of winter, but I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the prairie blizzards and traveling via wagon to a new destination in Ms. Wilder‘s Little House series.

My reading was limited to the availability of the school library since we didn’t have a local one at the time, and my family’s budget didn’t include books. I feel so lucky now to be part of an ebook revolution which makes it easier and less expensive for young readers to get their hands on everything from exciting short stories to full-length novels. I’m hoping one ebook that is discovered by many young adults is my current release, Shortcomings. I think there’s a powerful message hidden in a compelling story, but then I’ll let the readers be the judge of that. So far, the feedback has been very positive, even by adults.

I’ve lived long enough to see some exciting advancements in technology, but I never expected that someone would develop a way for us to read a book without holding the actual product in our hands. I thought for sure I would always be a die-hard paperback fan, but I’m a Kindle lover for the pure convenience, speed and size that allows me access to more books than I can probably read in the rest of my lifetime.

While some will continue to claim they are a “print” fan, I’m sure they haven’t given the new technology a fair try. How could you not like having a book delivered to your e-reader in the blink of an eye, one costing far less than the actual printed copy, and even when coupled with the 3000+ capacity a Kindle holds, weighs less than a pound. If you didn’t get an e-reader last Christmas, ask for one this year. There are others besides the Kindle to choose from, and Mom and Dad might be impressed that you aren’t asking for a toy. Happy Reading.
Just as an afterthought...many universities are providing ereaders, downloaded with the textbooks needed by incoming freshman this year.  I think we're headed in a good direction.  Now I imagine the day that students will no longer have to tote around heavy backpacks, visit unneeded lockers, or have to share a book that's been marked up or mutiliated by a previous user. Of course there are cons to the pros...can you think of a few?  Leave them in the comments and lets talk about them.


Unknown said...

I love both ebooks and print and am awaiting a kindle in the mail right now. I would love to see ebooks used instead of text books though mainly to cut down on the overwhelming amount a normal student packs around during the day and has to keep up with and they would also be more cost effective than print text books overall I think considering the standard cost of a text book now a days. The negative side would be durability teens etc.. are not the most careful with possesions that don't belong to them, so the screen on a standard ereader would need to be made more durable and less likely to break to be consistantly cost effective, though the ereaders could be refurbished when damaged, where as if you tear a text book the whole book has to be replaced.

gail roughton branan said...

Excellent points all Ginger, and the cost of e-textbooks, particularly in high school and college, would be so reduced. Not to mention the ease of updating and keeping the most current editions. Even children nowadays I think, while not as careful as adults with electronic gadgets, consider them a fact of life and learn to handle them with at least a little care at a very early age. Austin's had whatever the current mobile video game is (I don't remember the name) since he was four and has kept up with it much better than I thought he'd do.

Lin said...

I have long...a year plus so far...been a fan of Ginger Simspon and her reality based humor. I am also blessed to have her to reach out to as I learn about my own Kindle.

I am one of those former print-book snobs. I could not imagine how to enjoy my favorite things, books on a tiny screen, from a device I feared dropping and, oh Lord Help Me, shattering if I did so.

I have been collecting books since I was old enough to save my own allowance and buy the treasures.

We DID have a library. I grew up in a small town, but when you turned into the drive leading back to the elementary school, (I went to Catholic School in another town, so only entered the school building during girl scout meetings and each year in May when the nearby communities all used the school's vast grounds to hold the one day...noon to ten...May Faire)Before the school sat a building...just an old house actually...converted into a library and was open a glorious two afternoons a week during the summer and one during the school year.

I even remember the very first book I got from that library...Centennial Summer...couldn't tell you now who authored it, but the magical world of 1876 coupled with the smell of old books and the ability to borrow enchanted the young Lin.

Once I was old enough to begin purchasing the new edition of Nancy Drew books each month, my girlfriends and I converted one of our outbuildings into our own mini-library, proudly lining the shelves with our books, purchasing time cards, date stamps and little filing boxes. We were in business.

From this, we all began to read the favorites of our friends they'd donated to our little library, and having discussions.

Print books were more valuable to me than anything. I loathed shopping for anything else...still have a healthy aversion for shopping, but once I could drive (at 16)I located every bookstore within a thirty mile radius and when certain books like Harlequins, would be released and headed out to the bookstores that gave me the best prices.

By the time Kindles and other e-readers exploded upon the scene, I'd been in a bad car accident. I could not longer go to the library or bookstores and SEE clearly enough to read the titles on the book edges. My favorite places became places of pain and frustration. Headaches pierced my skull from trying to read the dust jackets, scan the shelves, follow my favorite authors.

So how could e-readers do anything other than make my love of the written word hurt even more?

I cannot explain the Kindle, but the words have no glare that prevent me from reading books any more out in the daylight. The halos caused by the scar tissue across both my corneas seems to be soothed rather than aggravated by the gray screen of the Kindle...and I can carry around a library of magic and not strain the spinal cord injuries, the nerve damage in my right leg and arm, or pull on my torn right rotator cuff. I can also breathe normally, not panting and puffing from the burden of carrying the weight of all the books I love.

Like you, Ginger, I have seen technology exploded upon our landscape. I'm not sure all of it is good, but e-readers? Oh Yeah!

Roseanne Dowell said...

I love books also. I also love libraries, even the smell of them. I love the feel of them in my hand. I'm not fortunate enough to have a kindle yet, and my budget doesn't allow me to purchase books anyway, so most of my books come from the library. For almost 50 years, I was a member of Double Day Book Club (off and on) so I have boxes and boxes of books. One day I hope to have enough book shelves to house them all. I could probably go back and start rereading them and it would be like reading a new book. I love the idea of a Kindle though. I tried my sister in law's and it was so easy to hold. Ah, well, maybe someday.

Pat McDermott said...

I saw a man reading a Kindle in an airport lounge once and asked him if he liked it. He said he loved it. He was an engineer and once had to carry several volumes of technical manuals with him, but they were all on his e-reader now. For this reason alone, e-readers would be great for students. But please don't burn the books yet. Thanks to my aunts' passion for collecting books, I have access to some gorgeous antiques whose pages are thicker than modern paperback covers. I love exploring the old writing styles and stories and find much inspiration for stories in them. I also have a Kindle, a fabulous tool for sheer knowledge, if not ambiance. Thoughtful post, Ginger!

Tanja said...

No more lugging heavy books in back-packs. No more photocopying specific pages to avoid this. And we can still enjoy print books when the above is not a problem; so actually it's like having the best of both worlds, according to which of them you want to inhabit at any given moment...

Anonymous said...

I still haven't gotten an ereader, but I will eventually.

I think that in order to make students more responsible for the ereaders, a monthly fee could be charged. Kind of like they do when students rent instruments for band. You are renting them, but those payments go towards the purchase of the instrument. I think it could work with ereaders too. Another thing would be to make sure that the ereaders have very durable cases to be stored in when transporting back and forth.