a course in miracles and e-readers have overcome their early flaws and now appear to be here to stay. No doubt you know one, if not many people now, who have a Kindle, an iPad, or a Nook, and who are enjoying reading e-books on them. Just four years ago, I remember for the first time seeing someone on a plane with an early e-book reader. It was a curiosity. Now seeing people with them is becoming as common as seeing people reading paper books. I don’t think the majority of the population has an e-reader yet, but the trend is headed that way. (Please note that for the purposes of this article I am relying on my experiences using a Kindle reader, although in most cases, the same issues are true of the Nook and other readers.)
While some concern exists that paper books will become extinct, plenty of reasons remain for why paper books remain preferable to e-books. Most of these reasons simply have to do with convenience or personal preferences, and now having used a Kindle, I know none of them are seriously frustrating complaints, but you might want to keep a few paper books around anyway.
Following are ways that paper books are superior to e-books and e-book readers as well as some complaints about e-books and e-book readers that people perceive as disadvantages. I have tried to answer these complaints, when possible.
No Page Numbers: There are reasons why Kindle does not have page numbers, and they are good reasons, but they still annoy me. Because you can alter the font size on Kindle, it might take two screens to read a page or three or four screens depending on how large you want the font. Consequently, one person might read a thousand screens and another only seven hundred to read a book. Kindle tries to compensate for this by using a percentage graph at the bottom of the screen that will let you know you are 38% and then 39% of the way through the book and so on. But my issue is I want to know how long a book is so I know how much time I must commit to reading it.
The percentages do not tell me how long the book is because if I read a long book, say 500 pages, it may be six or seven screens to equal 1%, while a shorter book of say 200 pages might only need two screens to equal 1%. I’ve complained about this page number issue to other Kindle users but most don’t seem to think it’s an issue, and I am adjusting to it. I’ve found I can look up how many pages the paper book is on Amazon to get an idea and then I can figure if the book is 500 pages, for every 1% I read, I know that’s about five pages. Still, it’s kind of like using the English measuring system and being asked to switch to the Metric system. I’ll get used to it but it will take time.
Page Changing and Flipping Ahead: This issue is the only one that really annoys me. You can bookmark passages in Kindle and then look just at what you have bookmarked-great if you want to take notes as you read, but as with the issue of no page numbers, you can’t quickly get from one page to another. For example, if you want to see how many pages Chapter 6 is, you have to hit the page turner button repeatedly to get to the chapter’s end. Then you have to hit the back page button to return to where you were, and unfortunately, often the screen page you were on has shifted where the words are on it so it’s not always easy to find your place (the first word at the top of the screen might have been “happiness” before you flipped forward, but when you flip back, it’s now on the second line so harder to spot).
This situation is not as convenient as putting in a bookmarker. Reading a book with end notes, consequently, would be a real nightmare even if you bookmarked the end notes. I miss just being able to hold thirty pages in my hand and glancing back and forth easily-maybe a split screen option for such comparisons will eventually solve this situation. Still, I think there should be some way e-readers can list page numbers, and have a “Go To” feature, just like in a pdf document, so you can choose the page you want to go to. The search features are not quite the same.
Durability: Like anything electronic, if you drop your e-reader, most likely you could break it. I’ve dropped plenty of paper books over the years and never had an issue beyond a bent page. I have yet to drop my Kindle because I’m paranoid about doing so, but I know people who have dropped theirs without it being an issue. They have also bought the leather covers which add some cushioning and which connect to the e-reader so the cover is always on it. Probably a worthwhile investment since the screen especially could break without a cover for it.