I've been thinking recently about e-books. This is mostly because I've been wanting to get a mini-tablet, and have been considering the e-reader tablets (Amazon Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook HD) along with the more traditional tablets (iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab, etc.). I'm a Barnes & Noble fan, so their newest 7" tablet has been appealing. Yet, I hesitate. And then a tweet this morning, from @IndyStories, really drove the point home. Here it is:
Why are some people still opposed to ebooks? They’re the same people that wouldn’t let women vote, because it would “disturb” things.
Aside from the somewhat hysterical, over-the-top tone of the tweet, I was put off by how it's not sincerely asking a question, but is merely posing a question so it can provide an assumed answer. This finally brought me to a clarity of thought as to why I've resisted e-books for so long (and continue to do so). Allow me to explain.
You see, I've actually downloaded and read some e-books. It took a little bit of getting used to. Not having something physical (aside from the e-reader) was sort of odd. And then there was worrying about how robust (or lackluster) is the company that I'm purchasing books from. What happens if it goes under? The fact that e-books cost less than regular books is, admittedly, a nice plus. But there is one major issue that I haven't yet been able to overcome.
In the past, when you bought a book, it was yours. It went with you wherever you went, lining the bookshelves of your living space, and never needing an electrical charge in order to be picked-up and read. This is my issue with e-books. You still purchase the book. Technically, yes, it's yours. But not really. Because what e-reading represents, more than anything else, is that our books are truly not our own. We need a device to read them. And that device needs a charge from time to time. And now the sellers act as gatekeepers.
If I were to walk into a Barnes & Noble, or a Books-a-Million, or any other brick & mortar store, I'd look around, buy a book or two, and bam -- those books would be mine. Heck, it'd be the same if I went online to Amazon and purchased a physical book there and received it a few days later. Once the transaction has finished, all ties with the bookseller have ended. That is at it should be. But not with e-books. With e-books, places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are basically selling me a book, but then also holding onto it for me. If I ever want to read the book, I have to go through their proprietary service.
So it is, dear reader, that I can't quite embrace the brave new world of e-reading. Not yet, anyway. Call me old school, but when I purchase something, it's mine. That's supposed to be the whole point of purchasing, correct (as opposed to renting, or having a library loan you something)? I don't like 'purchasing' something, then having that purchase be at the mercy of the folks who sold it to me. To be honest, it's puzzling why more people aren't concerned by this.