Going Digital

Posted by at 5:21AM

When you're faced with a stack of newspapers and the sleek Kindle, is there really any need to figure out which is the better option?

I’m not a fan of digital textbooks. Before my hard copies come in the mail, I’ve been forced to pore over previews provided by Google Books. Besides the fact that the books have put me to sleep once or twice, the experience wasn’t otherwise enjoyable.  Having to stare at the tiny letters for over an hour isn’t my idea of fun. But if I wanted to stay caught up while waiting for my real textbooks, I had to persist. I did – but only grudgingly.

Yet, every quarter I think I find more offerings to download my books online. For the most part, it’s cheaper. And it’s also greener. There are no production costs and no paper used! While this may seem like a blessing I’m frightened by the downfall of the physical textbooks and regular books. I stare at a screen all day anyways; I prefer not have to stare at it while I’m enjoying light reading. Yet I could metaphorically hear the nail being hammered into the coffin when I got the news that Borders is filing for bankruptcy. Barnes and Noble is still strong since it’s riding the ebook wave with it’s eReader the Nook but there doesn’t seem to be demand for companies that just sell books in print.

Borders has always been a favorite store of mine. While Barnes and Noble seems almost formal with its bustling Starbucks carrying customers and forest green designs, Borders has always seemed more comfortable and relaxed. I’ll be sad to see its stores go. But in order to survive you have to compete. Without an e-reader out, Borders doesn’t really stand a chance.

Something that’s even more telling of the popularity of digital texts is the rapid growth in the tablet PC market. After Apple’s iPad launch last year, it seems like other computer companies are scrambling to catch up in the race for the best tablet. This year brings us the Apple iPad 2, Motorola XOOM, HP TouchPad, and more. More people than ever own tablet PC’s. A tablet PC isn’t the same as an eReader, but consumers purchasing more and more of these products it doesn’t make sense for the average person to own both devices. People are going to have to choose but either way, the ebook market wins.

Even public libraries have jumped on the digital bandwagon. It’s inevitable that sometime in the near future, people will be more reliant on ebooks than traditional hard copies. Even in the past few weeks, I’ve talked to students deliberating between buying a Kindle or suffering through carrying their books around. And considering Stanford’s efforts to be both green and up-to-date with current technological trends, it’s a wonder of how long it will take our student body to make the conversion. For print texts, with its popularity declining, the end may not be imminent but it’s definitely getting there.

O, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, if you’re a fan of e-readers here’s a few gift ideas and deals.

Share

4 Responses to “Going Digital”

  1. kindler says:

    I have a kindle, I got it for Christmas. Rather than being grateful for the gift, I stupidly (and rudely) told my mom that she should have it instead of me. She brushed off what I said and told me to just give it a try. I did, and let me just say that it’s one of the best gifts I’ve received in years. Yes, I still love paper-back books, and still buy some on occasion, but kindles are amazing. I download PDFs from my classes onto it, so I don’t have to print out those annoying articles anymore. You can highlight, takes notes, all that. I’m not trying to sell them here, but honestly I’m just so damn happy with my kindle. I absolutely despise reading things on my computer, and perhaps the most beautiful part about the kindle (and some other ereaders) is that there is no back light, and the screen actually looks like a piece of paper. Honestly, for convenience, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s a really great tool to have here at Stanford, and the prices should hopefully go down as time goes by. I never would have bought it for myself, but now that I have it, I wish I had invested the money earlier.

  2. Mary – hptouchpadfan says:

    “Something that’s even more telling of the popularity of digital texts is the rapid growth in the tablet PC market. After Apple’s iPad launch last year, it seems like other computer companies are scrambling to catch up in the race for the best tablet. This year brings us the Apple iPad 2, Motorola XOOM, HP TouchPad, and more. More people than ever own tablet PC’s. A tablet PC isn’t the same as an eReader, but consumers purchasing more and more of these products it doesn’t make sense for the average person to own both devices. People are going to have to choose but either way, the ebook market wins.”

    To the point listed above – I agree. You can buy any tablet and download books. It is true about the volume of tablets being sold. http://www.hptouchpadnews.com says that over 64 million people own tablets already, and obviously that number is going to increase with all the new tablet launches this year. Some individual schools have done away with text books already, and that is a trend I suspect will continue.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a point where Barnes and Noble, Books a Million and Borders go away as stores completely (I mean you can still by CD’s at Best Buy), but it won’t be long before a new generation of readers no nothing different than the ability to read any digital text on their laptop, desktop, phones or whatever.

  3. Joe M says:

    Whatever the choice is, either the iPad, the Xoom, HTC Flyer or any other brand, I think we are in the begining of a new kind of era. Tablet pcs will be used for teching at schools as well as students taking notes, they’ll be used at hospital by nurses and doctors to keep track of all patients and also in restaurants as menus and order takers. It’s the high tech era we are living now. Good post.

  4. Torres says:

    3G mobile phones are going to make people get all the information they need indoor.Considering mobile’s dramatical development,I think it may be a trend that people use mobile phones as porket PC and maybe the versatile mobile will be a necessary tool for every human on earth. However,physical degradation of people caused by using mobile too often should be considered.After regular and resonable games online,visiting websites by mobile, we’d better put it down and get some fresh air outside.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION - LEAVE A REPLY


Comments are moderated and will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. Please do not be alarmed if your comment does not show up immediately. We will get it posted soon.