E-Book Readers – The Future or a Damp Squib?

There’s been a lot of hype about Amazon’s new e-book reader, the Kindle.

Amazon Kindle

There are already many sites talking about the device (and that’s just a random selection), so I’ll let you read up on it elsewhere if you don’t know about it already.  But I was wondering just how practical something like this would be for the student population in the UK.

For many years, I was excited by the possibilities of having a device the size of a book that held many electronic books.  Certain devices suggested the future was just around the corner, but nothing gained momentum.  If I wasn’t particularly bothered by what was happening, I can’t imagine how bored the uninterested people were!

Recently, a number of news stories have been whipping up as much frenzy as they could about e-book devices and electronic ink.  The frenzy didn’t whip up much to be honest, but it was obvious that both gadget and book lovers alike were keeping their eyes open for something that stopped them in their tracks.  Maybe the future was arriving, albeit slowly.

And finally, succeeding in creating more column inches than all the previous e-book offerings put together (he said totally unscientifically and with no proof whatsoever…), the Amazon Kindle comes along to save the world and stop the relentless destruction of trees for entertainment purposes.

At this point, I realised something surprising.

I still wasn’t excited.

Not one ounce of me craved one of these devices.  It just didn’t seem right any more.

I considered why I’d had such a sudden change of heart.  Yet deep down, I had to be honest with myself and say that I never had been that excited about the prospect of an e-book reader.  It was something I thought I should be interested in.

Don’t get me wrong.  My ambivalence wasn’t due to the love of hard copy.  I didn’t crave the smell of paper from a new book purchase.  It had nothing to do with books in that way.

It was more to do with the ease of reading anything I want from a computer anyway.

And I don’t think that’s missing the point.  If I wanted to read electronic text on the train or bus, I’d use a laptop.  And while on holiday, I don’t expect to be reading several hundred books.  If anything, I’ll read one or maybe two.  Not exactly a big deal when you consider packing an e-reader would be about the size of a book anyway.  And holidays for many people are about getting away from technology.  Going a bit old-school!

With an e-reader, would any changes occur to student life?  Well, I can’t imagine this device would help browsing through a textbook or flicking through several tomes to grab some quick ideas.  And so what if you can do a text search within the e-book?  It just doesn’t fit in with study.  Well, not mine anyway.

Maybe I’m being too harsh and not embracing the possibilities.  But the more I think about it now, the more I believe I was misguided in my thoughts a few years back at uni.

I don’t buy many newspapers and magazines any more, because I read them on the web.  That includes subscriptions, so I’m not just scouting for freebies either.  Despite enjoying the reading of electronic material, as opposed to the printed word, I’d still rather do so from a computer screen rather than a small, handheld screen.  And if I want to search some text books, I hope that I have access to them as PDF documents.  It’s not generally the case, but I don’t usually need to search many text books anyway.  It’s never the way I’ve liked to study.

Maybe that’s it.  Perhaps I just study and read differently to some others who would adore the Amazon Kindle.  Or maybe we’re all in the same boat.  How do you feel about e-book readers?

And what would you like to see on a customised e-reader to suit your lifestyle?  Would ANYTHING win you over?

Am I just being a spoilsport, or do you agree with me?