A few days ago, I recognized that I was facing an information emergency which required me to get up to speed on a topic very rapidly. I needed a book, a specific reference-book. My knee-jerk reaction was to place an order for a “tangible” text from Amazon.com and have it delivered overnight, instead of in the usual “3-5 Day UPS” manner.
Now, you might’ve said, “no, don’t do that, just call around to your local Borders, or Barnes and Noble, and pick it up there the same day!” Well, unfortunately, the text that I needed was too specific for those stores (I had surveyed them on previous occasions). It was one of those “long-tail” books that only a dot-com supplier was going to have in inventory.
So, I searched for the specific text that I needed in Google and found that it was available as an “E-book,” from, well, Ebooks.com. I ultimately purchased from Ebooks.com, but Amazon.com also had downloadable versions of many of their physical books. And, in hindsight, I probably should have shopped Amazon for the same downloadable book before making the purchase; Amazon turned out to have been substantially cheaper.
Two minutes after making payment, I had the text of my “book” right in front of me on my large, flat-screen computer monitor. My stress born from a lack of information subsided as I started to read, and slowly got on top of the subject-matter in-question.
The Electronic Book turned out to be 360 pages in length. But, as I scrolled its pages upward, one after the other, I realized that I was reading it more rapidly than I would a physical book. And, I didn’t have any of the psychological burden that might come from having a large, 360-page book on my lap that I needed to absorb before morning. When my eyes grew fatigued, I zoomed in on the text using the Adobe Reader; my fatigue dissipated. When I needed to “highlight” something in the electronic text, I used the highlight function in the comment section of the Adobe program; no need for Highlighter-Brand markers unless I wanted to get a noxious-fume buzz. I ended up running through 200 pages like they were nothing and finished the whole 360-page text of not-particularly-appealing, non-fiction material before bed. I was resoundingly impressed with the Ebook experience.
The next day, I looked at my shelf of paperback books and realized I was looking at the written equivalent of a large, 1980s-era CD collection. The books were taking up a lot of physical square-footage, when they, like modern music or video downloads, would more efficiently serve me as electronic files. And the books showed wear and tear, I couldn’t enlarge their text, I needed markers to highlight the segments that were important to me, and I couldn’t cut and paste their text to a word document. In sum, my physical books seemed archaic, like art-pieces that should be displayed, but hardly employed as modern resources of information.
So, I may never buy a physical book again, unless I intend to display it in a glass case.
(From the den of all that is evil and unholy, Usedcarsalesman.com)