When the iPod came along in October 2001, the walkman, which was once the item that only the coolest kids had, soon turned into the item that only the lamest kids had. The iPod is like the Jetsons, and the walkman is like the Flintstones – one urban and trendy, the other heavy and awkward. So is this the case that is happening with eReaders, such as the Kindle and the Kobo? Are we going to throw away our old and heavy books for a slim and shiny device that contains books? In this day and age, when books are being replaced by movies, does anyone really care?
In Canada, a country where 99% of the population is literate, people are reading less and less. I asked six NT students if they enjoy reading, and only two of them said yes. On average, these NT students only read two books a year for leisure.
“I really like to read, but I never have the time,” says Larysa Lewyckyj, a Grade 11 student at NT. “With all my school work, I can only read a book every two months.”
It seems as though Amazon, Indigo, and Sony have all caught on to this book boycotting, because people are buying into it. Even if you don’t like to read, eReaders look cool and it makes people feel like they’re artsy by having one. It’s the same thing with the iPod – people who aren’t that into music still buy iPods just to fit in. If you look at the real music lovers, you’ll see that they still buy CDs, and even records, and if they do have an iPod, it’s most likely an iPod Classic, the ones that can hold 80 GB of music.
Book lovers may buy an eReader if they need to travel and are bringing a lot of books with them. But you hardly ever see a literature enthusiast sitting by the fire reading from an eReader. The texture of the pages, the dust on the cover, the bent spine, you’ll remember those qualities and they’ll automatically be associated with a certain book. If you’re reading a book off an eReader, you can never get a unique feel to it because each “book” feels the same. The hard, grey metal, the glare of the screen, and the smooth back are always going to be there. On eReaders, there can never be those pretty gold pages you see in some old books. All you have is a piece of machinery that is always the same, no matter what you’re doing on it.
However, the eReader is not always bad; in fact, there are many benefits to it. Obviously, it’s smaller and lighter than most books, letting you take up to 14 00 books in a pocket of your backpack. It also has free Wifi everywhere you go, letting you look up words on their dictionary and receiving PDFs and documents via email. It’s ideal for the on-the-go businessman who wants all his business in one place, along with some entertainment when he finally gets some downtime. But for someone who wants to get into a book, an eReader is another nuisance that gets in the way of them having any private life.
Since books are downloadable on the eReader, much like songs are on iTunes, there is a lot of room for copyright infringements. Authors everywhere have discovered programs like Limewire and Frostwire, which make it easy and free for anyone to download books onto their computer or eReader. This puts the author, their agent, and their publisher in a position where they are losing money because others are profiting.
Believe it or not, after the printing press was in invented in 1440, books soon become the hippest thing that only the most elite could get their hands on. Now, 569 years later, they are being put to shame because nobody wants them anymore. The only reason the majority of students read is because they have to for school. Print journalism is becoming a dying business because people don’t want to have to think when they read, and would rather watch some guy talk about it on TV instead. Facebook is so attractive to youth because there are so many pictures and the words are merely supplemental. So put down your electronic devices that never give you a minute of privacy, pick up a book, read it, and who knows, you might just enjoy it. Not just the writing, but the whole experience of actually holding a book in your hands and flipping the pages, then closing it when it’s done, signalling your time to reflect on this book and its meaning.