When it comes to technology, I’ve always considered myself an early adopter. I was using the cloud before it was really a thing, among the first with an Android phone, and I even got a Chromebook just to get a sense of what it could do.
I was, however, a hold-out when it came to eBooks.
I love printed books
For as long as I can remember, I’ve not just loved everything about printed books, I loved real (brick and mortar) bookstores. Everything about them is a joy, from the smells, to hidden surprises on many shelves. I could lose hours in a great bookstore (especially when there’s a Starbucks inside).
For that reason, I never really embraced Amazon as a bookseller. I never got the “book vibe” from their website. It lacked the smell, and the ambiance, and the thrill of knowing I might find a new hidden gem.
Obviously, I never got a Kindle, or a Nook, a Sony Reader, or a Kobo, or anything else. To my way of thinking, they detracted from the “experience” that is reading a great book.
It turns out, I was wrong about eBooks
Back in December, I was lucky to become the owner of a new 2nd generation Nexus 7 tablet.
It was my first tablet, and already being completely familiar with the Android operating system, I was quickly putting it through its paces. If you haven’t played with a tablet yet, it’s much easier on the eyes than a phone for extended periods of use, and the battery (being much larger) lasts significantly longer.
Of course I used it for casual surfing on the internet, checking my email, and the “usual things.”
I found it to be a great companion to my Chromecast, as well. Watching Netflix movies and TV shows on the home entertainment system via the Chromecast has become a regular part of our lives (as has listening to our music collection by way of Google Play Music). The Nexus 7 became our interface of choice for those activities.
Then one day, I got an email advertising a sale on eBooks from one of my favorite authors. I looked at my tablet, and realized its 7″ screen is ideal for reading, and I already knew that the battery would last all day, and well into the next. I decided to break-down, and see what all the eBook hoopla was about, so I forked-over my hard won shekels to give it a shot.
The Google Play Store provided pure, simple, instant gratification.
The moment I tapped, “Purchase,” the book was in my cloud-based “library,” associated with my Google account, and as a result, was instantly available on all of my devices.
I opened the book on my tablet, began reading, and was immediately amazed by all the things eBooks can do, that printed books can’t, including:
- Tap on a word, and get its definition
- Highlight text
- Bookmark pages
- Search for text within the book
- Change the font size
- Read aloud (speech syntheses)
Those are just some of the “features” available through eBooks, and doesn’t speak-to the conveniences that come with moving away from print.
I’m an avid reader, almost always reading several books at any point-in-time. I’m usually part-way through a novel, and something non-fiction, and usually one or two reference books, as well. Carrying so many printed books with me everywhere I went wasn’t practical. But now, my entire library is there in my hand. Always.
Another (not so obvious) advantage I’ve found (at least with Google Play Books) is that my current page position is memorized in the cloud, and synchronized across all of my devices. If I leave-off on page 204 on my tablet, and open that same book on my phone, or one of my computers, that’s exactly the spot the book will open to.
Just the other day, I was at a coffee shop, waiting to meet a friend. He called to say he was running late, and I hadn’t brought a book with me to pass the time. But, I had my Chromebook. I fired it up, clicked on the novel I’d been reading, and was taken directly to the exact spot where I left off on my tablet the night before.
I’m not sure I’ll bother with printed books again
I don’t know if I’m completely prepared for a world without bookstores. For as long as they exist, I’m sure I’ll make it a point to drop-in, order a coffee, and browse.
But when I spot something of interest, I’m afraid to say I’ll head to Google Play, and buy the eBook version.
Apologies in advance to all the great folks who work in bookstores. I wish you luck!