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Kindle VS Real Books - Will E-Books Replace Traditional Books?

Updated on January 3, 2018

Reading e books on Kindle or iPad is the biggest thing since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Or is it? The relatively new phenomena of ebooks and the success of Amazon's Kindle is throwing the world of publishing and reading into a whole new age of controversy and turmoil.

Now, I will admit to being the type of person who may seem a bit backward to some, but technologically knowledgeable to my more neolithic type friends. Like (I suspect) a lot of people, especially Baby Boomers and older folks, I am not a tech head. I do not own a lot of electronic gadgetry, but I am no troglodyte. Instead of plunging into the electric revolution, I pick and choose between convenience and what looks to me like rampant consumerism, attempting to find a middle ground.

Sure, I have a cell phone. And understand something of the Internet, but I was just not ready to jump in feet first and plunk out $139.00 on what can be perceived as a new toy. Now, Amazon is offering a Kindle at a mere $114.00!

But I do love books and love to read, and am fascinated with the new wireless reading devices on the market. So far, Kindle seems to be the best ereader out there. But, I am still reading novels the old fashioned way.

I decided to share my investigations with you and look forward to your input in the comments section.

Amazon's Kindle

(wikimedia commons; photo by Jon ShakataGaNei Davis
(wikimedia commons; photo by Jon ShakataGaNei Davis

Kindle - Several Versions

So, when Amazon released Kindle 1st Generation in 2007, I thought that I would wait awhile before I made up my mind about the whole ebook business. But, when Amazon recently claimed to sell 80% more digital books online than hardback books, I decided to find out more about the whole scene.

Amazon originally introduced the 1st Generation Kindle in 2007 with a 6' display screen that cost nearly $400.00 with a 250 MB internal memory capacity, enabling it to hold 200 titles of non-illustrated books. In 2009, Kindle 2 with its longer battery life, and a thinner body, was able to hold 1500 non illustrated books. You can fit an entire private library in your pocket book!

In May of 2009, Amazon released Kindle DX, which can display landscape or portrait layouts when turned sideways! It is like magic.

Not only that, but the price of Kindle has come down. In order to compete with Barnes and Noble's Nook, Amazon reduced the price of Kindle from $259.00 to $189.00, then to $139.00.

Recently, Amazon brought out yet another version of Kindle that sells for only $114.00!

The digital text platform of Kindle reduces waste, transportation and delivery costs, and cuts down on cutting down trees. And it's the perfect union of the literary life and the electronic revolution.

For book lovers, new releases and best selling ebooks on Kindle cost about ten dollars. Book buyers will be able to afford more books, but publishers are concerned that the low price will lower their profits.

Another bonus for readers is the Gutenberg Project which offers nearly 20,000 books that have expired copyright in the United States of America - for absolutely free! That comes close to convincing any reader to join the ebook craze.

Imagine - All These Books Compressed Onto Something the Size of a Dress Purse!

(wikimedia commons; photo by Denis Barthel)
(wikimedia commons; photo by Denis Barthel)

Speaking of Gutenberg...


Before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, books were hand written. Each book was a work of art, often featuring beautiful illustrations and elaborate calligraphy. In other words, books were real expensive treasures for the wealthy.

People often read books aloud, back then. Let's not forget that the first book that Gutenberg printed was the Bible. Previously, few people actually read the Bible. It was read to them. Scholarly men, clerics, priests, and theologians would read and interpret the bible for everybody else. But the printing press created the ability for anyone who could read to actually read the Bible for themselves. Eventually, the printing press widened the availability of books and, like Kindle, and every other newly introduced technological advance, the prices of books eventually came down.

But, critics worried that people would no longer read aloud and that wonderful experience of sharing books would pass out of fashion. Religious leaders feared that regular people who read the Bible for themselves might come up with their own interpretations of the Bible, producing a whole host of heretics. And, the printing press would put scribes out of work!

Plus, the new books created on a printing press just were not as pretty as the hand made ones. An art form would be lost. And they were right about that.

But the availability of mass made books encouraged a whole new age of education, science, the arts, and religion. It has been called the greatest invention of all time.

Girl Reading - Would the Picture be as Pretty if She Was Reading an E Book?

(wikimedia commons)
(wikimedia commons)

Kindle VS Real Books

So, my friends, here are my comparisons between Kindle (or any book on a digital format) and traditional books, the advantages and disadvantages of each:

  • E-books are great for travel. They a light weight, compact, and easy to carry. You can take several books with you to the beach with no fuss at all. And unlike laptop or cell phone screens, the display screen on a Kindle reduces glare and can be easily read in strong sunlight. However, when the plane takes off and lands, flight attendants will ask you to turn it off.
  • If you drop your book in the bathtub, down a flight of stairs, or into a vat of boiling molasses, you lose one book. If you do the same with a Kindle, don't worry - your library is backed up on Amazon! Although the Kindle itself would be kaput.
  • You can't use a stack of Kindle ebooks to hold up a corner of the sofa if one of the legs has broken off.
  • Regular books do not include a dictionary or keyboard.
  • You can't cut a hole in an old ebook to hide your stash.
  • Hitting someone in the head with a Kindle does not pack the same wallop as it does if you bop them with a good old fashioned hard back book.
  • You can't slip some papers into a Kindle for ease of carrying.
  • The battery on your traditional book will not crap out just as the hero is dangling off the cliff and you have to send it off somewhere for repair or buy a new battery online before you find out what happens.
  • You can't use a pile of Kindles to smooth down papers. Well, you could but that would entail purchasing quite a lot of them.
  • If you become lost in the wilderness with your Kindle, you can't use it as kindling for a fire on a cold night. (But, if you also have a GPS, you can find your way back to civilization)
  • With a Kindle, you can't switch book jackets to make it look like you are reading something significant in order to impress strangers at the dentist's office or on the bus.
  • Crack pot political groups can't burn a pile of Kindles with the same effect as burning a pile of real books.
  • You can't collect old or rare Kindles.
  • You can't press flowers with a Kindle.
  • Kindles do not lend themselves to secretive or clandestine exchanges - which could harm espionage.
  • On the plus side for Kindle - you can lay on your side when reading a Kindle. Try that with a traditional book!

And there is, of course, the ultimate question - how cozy is it to curl up with a Kindle and a cup of tea on a chilly night? In that case, I guess it depends on what you are reading.

What do you think about Kindle, iPad, and the idea of a wireless reading devise?

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    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      4 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Me too !

    • Jaye Robinson profile image

      Jaye Robinson 

      4 months ago from Michigan

      I love a regular book

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      4 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Shannon - haha, no I would not worry about that either!

    • sunny0811 profile image

      Shannon Hager 

      4 months ago from Raleigh

      I got a kindle because I will be writing ebooks, but I prefer physical books. Besides, the chances of someone stealing your used book are slim to none.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Deborah - yes, I think we need a break from electronic screens. And so we read books. Thanks!

    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 

      8 months ago from U.S, California

      Kindle and ebooks is nice.... But I hope they never replace books altogether. At the end of the day, They just can't compete with hardbound. A book is something tangible and less hard on the eyes. There is no chance of running out of battery or into a glitch, at the climatic scene of a story, with a book.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      bydojo - you sure have stated the benefits of ebooks and have me convinced of every argument you make in their behalf. And I like the idea that you can adjust the font for your own eyes.

      My son and I were discussing the ebooks recently and he, having used one, pointed out that, for him, it was hard when he wanted to back track. Like, you think to yourself - what did that guy say about such and such earlier in the story so you thumb back and find the spot amazingly fast when reading a traditional book. But it's a lot harder with an ebook.

      Thanks for your points (and presented so neatly too!)

    • bydojo profile image

      Ramona Jar 

      5 years ago from Romania

      I have a huge love for 'regular' books, but I'm finding my new Nook Tablet easier to use when it comes to reading. Here are some of my reasons:

      1. books have small fonts. I'm wearing glasses and my eyesight is not as it was 20 years ago. My Nook can display any font size I want. Recently bought an old book (from 1930 actually) and started reading it. It's a normal book, like the hundreds I have at home. Believe me it was a pain to read that small font.

      2. my Nook can store hundreds of books in it. We do travel a lot and luggage weight is an issue. We stayed for 6 months in NYC, imagine how many books I'd have to carry there and back. I can put everything on my Nook and that's it.

      3. prices are better with ebooks. I can purchase some books for few bucks (some are even free) on Barnes&Noble. The regular books are a little more pricey.

      So, while I do have a big pleasure in seeing a normal book (and still own A LOT at my home), the ebook readers are more convenient and will probably become the norm in the future.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Gregorious - well maybe the video didn't kill movies, but the radio did kill the piano. Did you know that before radio and phonograph, nearly every middle class home had a piano?

    • Gregorious profile image

      Gregorious 

      6 years ago

      Just like video didn't kill the radio, I don't think e-books will kill real books.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Navarth - whoah, thank you for your insightful comment. I've been hearing about people who try to teach their kids the alphabet on a keyboard at a computer. What are they thinking? A child needs to touch and feel an actual letter - that a letter does not always look exactly the same, such as A is a, is the round thing with the vertical line on the right. The tactile experience that enables a child to learn is simply not there, when it's all on a screen.

      Thanks again for adding your voice to the discussion!

    • profile image

      Navarth 

      7 years ago

      The kindle is not a book, it is a screen. It is merely the latest example of the incursion of illuminated screens powered by electric fields into every arena of human life. These parasitic devices are rapidly destroying human cognitive function, although the buying public is far from this realization. With a kindle, for example, the experiential learning process is qualitatively inferior than a paper book. As an analogue entity the book encapsulates what IT IS; by comparison the Kindle offers a simulacram only. Learning is compromised - especially in children - because the medium and not simply the message is significant in forging cognitive associations. Learning about the world must include emotional and instinctual comprehension of the "all round" nature of phenomena. And the cold, artificially powered electric glow of the kindle light machine is vastly different from the texture of a paper book engraved with symbols printed with vegetable ink. And this is precisely what people do not grasp; the difference between superficial knowledge and understanding. Understanding necessitates an interface with the real world; connection with physical experience. The screen provides an ersatz window which mimics reality and as such separates the operator (victim) from the latter. The best description of someone living their existence through the screen is onanism.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      steph - it seems as if Kindle has the best platform for viewing. And what with the lowered price, I bet it well be a huge hit this Christmas! Thanks!

      Dinosaurdan - well you can't have everything. For my last birthday, my niece gave me several old Bobbsey Twins books. One was published in the very early part of this century and is a real treasure. Kindle will never equal that!

    • profile image

      Dinosaurdan1  

      8 years ago

      Opps, when I said "Nancy Drew Supermysteries" I ment "Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys supermysteries" and I forgot to say that I was talking about the series that lasted 36 books, not the recent supermystery series that is still ongoing. All of the recent series is available on the kindle, it's the old series that's missing from the Kindle store. Sorry if I confused anyone.

    • profile image

      Dinosaurdan1 

      8 years ago

      As a collector of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, the very small number of those books on the kindle( There's only ONE Hardy Boys Casefile out of 127 books in the series and no Nancy Drew Files or Nancy Drew Supermysteries available on the Kindle) prevents me from even thinking of buying a Kindle.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Pierre - you are so right about the possibility of the destruction of electronic devices. We are so dependent on them for information and communication. If some entity was to disable the vast electronic web, even for a few day, we'd be in trouble. However, Amazon has just dramatically lowered the price of Kindle. But the poor have always been left out, the wealthy always have had the advantage. Back in the day, paper and books were so expensive, only the wealthy had easy access. Thanks for the insightful comment.

    • profile image

      Pierre Lherisson 

      8 years ago

      Printed matter could be used anywhere regardless of longitude, latitude and temperature. It is reliable and it is not subject to short term, long term covert or overt mischievous alteration.

      The electronics book-e-book is less reliable at best; its information could be wiped out with electromagnetic pulses-EMP in case of an all-out war or during an extraordinary solar flares or disturbances; it is subject to power shortage ,hardware malfunctioning and software glitch and at the mercy of hackers. The information on it is ephemeral and subject to expiration.

      Manufacture probably will keep changing the format, compatibility and model in their quest for higher profit. They will continue to inflate the price of such devices in the newer models as they do for the cellular telephones .They might introduces commercial on them. It will reach a point, only the riches will be able to buy them.

      Powerful nations that are in conflict with weaker nations might find ways to disabled such devices or place embargo to their sales to those nations. Smaller nations should not rely on this Trojan horse as mainstream unless they have the capability to manufacture them. The same is true for cell phones.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      susan - they said that TV would kill the movies, then that videos would kill the movies but that did not happen. A new technology does not have to ruin an older one, but it does happen. How many people are farriers these days? Thanks for commenting.

    • susansisk profile image

      Susan Sisk 

      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Really enjoyed this hub. I feel that there is room in the world for both real books and E-books. I love my ipod, but I still listen to the radio. What I object to is when financial guru's say that the "book store" is dead. I love to go to Barnes and Noble, look around, and have a coffee. When i buy a e-reader, I will still go to the book store.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Alisha - I thought about that too, but I've read that Kindle lends itself to reading outdoors in bright light. I must actually try one. And migraine? Oh, that's awful. Thank you!

      pamsie - well that is so good to hear! I wonder if I should change the statement, but I hate to drop the stupid image of dropping a Kindle (or book) into a vat of boiling molasses. Thanks for the info!

      Alisha - no! Pamsie is saying to leave the protective cover on!!!

    • Alisha2010 profile image

      Alisha2010 

      8 years ago from Irvine, CA

      Pamsie, I might be odd for saying this, but I love leaving the protective film on with everything I buy. It feels like new, and it feels like it gets less dirty. Is that really the reason? I guess it will have to come off. Thanks for the help.

    • profile image

      pamsie 

      8 years ago

      I'd like to make a correction. If your kindle gets destroyed for some reason, you will lot lose your ebooks, they are automatically backed up to your Amazon account. Alisha2010, you get glare? are you sure you didn't take off the protective film from the screen?

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Duchess - I was thinking about going camping and how an ereader would cut down on weight and give you more room. As long as the battery holds out. I hate that so much of what we buy and use today is battery powered, but ereaders are interesting me more and more. Thank you!

      MT - maybe anybody can post a book but that does not mean anyone will actually read it. I am hoping that ereaders do not replace traditional books but that all can exist and be used. Thanks!

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 

      8 years ago from United States

      For me the two biggest advantages for kindle/e-readers are the green aspect (less trees killed) and the ease of transporting loads of books. However I'm also resisting this technology because I love looking at a shelf of books I have read (or would like to read). I love holding it and not worrying about battery life or wireless connection. I love the feel of and the smell of books. Books are a specific kind of experience for me, where as reading one on an e-reader would just seem like more internet to me. There are some things that are just better without constantly being connected. Some authors, like Sherman Alexie, refuse to release their books in a digital form, and I could see it happening more. As a writer, I want the publishing companies to still make a profit so we still have a chance to be authors, as opposed to anybody posting a book with no editing or proofreading onto an e-reader.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      I have not yet succumbed to my love of e-gadgets to purchase one. But I expect I will ask for one for Christmas.. :)

      Personally, I think change always brings about the same types of questions and concerns. I expect there is room for both, especially since you can hold so many books in your Kindle. I do wonder though what happens when you loose your reader, or it gets broken. Do you still own an electronic copy somehow?

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      betcaro - so many book lovers seem to love, not just the content of the book, but the physical book itself. Books are indeed, treasures. Thank you!

    • betcaro profile image

      betcaro 

      8 years ago

      As much as I am considering a Kindle, I must admit there is nothing like holding a good book in my hands. And after awhile I can no longer focus on a screen, but I can read a book much longer than I can read a computer screen. I think perhaps the two will peacefully co-exist for some time to come.

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