Over the course of the last decade, eBooks have become second nature to savvy readers. Not only can you purchase them in your pajamas, but they are more economical viable than new releases that come out only in hardcover.
One of the big questions that readers always ask, is what are the direct benefits of reading digitally? Is there a big difference between reading in print and an eBook? Today, we look the big reasons why buying an eBook makes a ton of sense.
Table of Contents – One of the big benefits with an eBook is a clickable TOC. It makes it really easy when reading an academic or textbook to be able to quickly go to the exact page that you want, with minimal fuss.
Cloud Syncing – If you have a smartphone, tablet or e-reader in the household and often read the same book on many different devices, cloud syncing makes things really easy. Amazon and other vendors have the ability to monitor the last page read. This insures that you will pick up exactly where you left off on a book you were reading when you were going to sleep on your e-reader and then pick up where you left off on the subway with your smartphone.
Highlights and Annotations – Writing your own notes or making highlights is ridiculously simple with an e-reader or e-reading app. Anything you do with an eBook is also synced to the cloud, insuring any change will follow you, no matter what device you are on. This is especially beneficial with digital textbooks that you rent for a few weeks or a semester. The title may not be in your library anymore, after the loan period is up, but any note you make are yours to keep and is stored perpetually in the cloud.
Some companies have really taken the note taking features on hardware to new and exciting levels. The Sony Digital Paper is a 13.3 inch reader, that is billed as a replacement for read paper. Instead of exclusively typing on touchscreen keyboard, like most smartphone, you use the pen to quickly draw your notes out save them as an independent file. The Galaxy Note line of phones is also super solid for note taking because of the accompanied Stylus.
Dictionaries and Translations – When reading fiction or non-fiction title, inevitability you will be unsure on the exact meaning of a word. It might be something you never heard before, or may use idioms from another country. Many of the top e-readers by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo all have dictionaries pre-loaded on their devices, with the options to download additional ones, for free. If you buy an English Kindle, but want to load in a German dictionary, no problem. I also really like some of the translation software on the new Kindle Voyage, you can click on a word or body of text and translate it from the language its in, to over 15 ones. Oh, you can also get diverted to Wikipedia and Google to look up a specific word too!
Fonts – If you have a vision deficiency and love to read, going to your bookstores large print section used to be your only option. These large font titles are really expensive too, often costing two or three times that of a paperback and they are normally just available in hardcover. The benefits of eBooks is being able to adjust the font on a title to your own personal preference. If you don’t like the default font eBook comes with, you can switch that too. Most e-readers and e-reading apps often have six fonts you can switch to, but Kobo goes one step further by allowing users to load in any font they want, allowing for more flexibily and control.
You can Loan an eBook out, and always get it back – I have six big book shelves full of books, but used to have more. I have loaned a ton of books over the years to friends who really dug what I was reading or wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I am also not ashamed to say, there were times I gave an awesome book to a girl I was sweet on, only to never get them back. Amazon and Barnes and Noble developed eBook lending programs that allow you to loan an eBook to a friend, one time, for up to two weeks. The only problem, is that your friend, also needs the same e-reader as you do. Many European companies sell digital books with watermarks, which makes it infinity easier to give out a copy of your book, while still preserving ownership of the original.
Many people in their social circle of friends are the only one with an e-reader, such as a Kindle or Nook. This makes loaning out titles impossible and borrowing books super hard. A number of eBook loaning services have been developed over the years that connect readers with each other, who don’t know one another in real life. Lendle and eBook Fling are the two most popular.
Buy eBooks in your Pajamas – The one aspect of eBooks that I really like is being able to buy a title at any time. There has been many cases where I complete an amazing book and want to see what else the author has written. In many cases at the end of the book, you can click on a series of links to bring you to whatever online bookstore the author recommends to find additional titles. If the book you just read was apart of a series, you can immediately buy the next one.
eBook pre-orders are proving to be fairly popular on iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo or Google. You can have a book immediately sent to your device at midnight, on the day of the release. Its like when new movies come out, and you can see it hours in advance if you checkout the midnight showing, its the exact same thing with digital books.
Fan fiction – If you grew up loving My Little Pony, GI.Joe, Harry Potter or boy bands, there is fan-fiction for that. Millions of stories are available to read for free, on WattPad, Kindle Worlds or fanfiction.net. Some fanfic authors have transcended their humble beginnings, such as Anna Todd and landed publishing and movie deals. incidentally, her book about a One Direction signer has had billions of reads.
Fan Fiction normally flies under the radar in the standard eBook conversation, but some of the websites like WattPad do gangbuster business. Readers spend two billion hours a day reading free books on their site and social media elements allow authors to converse directly with their fans to help them become better writers. Fans will frequently offer advice on serialized novels, on what they want to see, or to help in the direction of the plot. Its interactive, which is why so many people love it.
Beyond the Book/X-Ray – If you are like me, sometimes I find myself juggling many books at once. I may begin a book and something I have been waiting for finally comes out, and I instantly switch and devour it. When I come back to the original book I started, sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes names of minor characters can blur together, and I think “how was he again, whats going on?”
To solve this situation Amazon developed X-Ray, which gives you a comprehensive list of all the major and minor characters in any given book. It also tells you about the locations, objects and how many times they are referrences throughout the book. No longer will readers be confused on a book they are reading, because they can easily access a small biography.
eBooks have less of a carbon footprint – There are higher environmental costs involved in manufacturing an e-reader unit, compared to a unit of paper, and there are also on-going operational effects. However, one e-reader can hold any number of eBooks, newspapers and magazines — which means that e-reader users purchase fewer printed publications. Producing a Kindle creates the same CO2 as 30 books. So you need to read that number or more to offset the carbon emissions it takes to make it.
eBooks Allow you to be Anonymous – Our taste in books no longer have to be a guilty pleasure. The entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon showed us that many women were reading the eBook on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader on public transit and they weren’t advertising what they were reading like they would a print book. The social stigma of reading trashy romance, fantasy or erotica have been firmly removed with the advent of portable e-readers. Not advertising what you are reading may remove some of the public transportation flirting, but it allows you to immerse yourself in a book you love, without attracting too much attention.
eBooks are Cheaper – Many readers cite the price of eBooks as one of the primarily aspects of why they choose to read digitally. A new report by Books and e-Books UK 2014 is trying to quantify the parallel between cheaper books and reading more. Their data suggests 26% of consumers who have bought an eBook in the last year are reading more than they used to, because eBooks cost less than paperbacks, a figure that rises to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
You don’t need reports to say that eBooks cost less than print. When a new book comes out, it is normally exclusively in a hardcover. The average cost is around $29.99, sometimes more, depending on the title and publisher. When it comes to eBooks, new titles are anywhere from $9.99 to $12.99, in rare cases they go all the way to $18.00.
When people ask me what I do for a living, inevitably they ask me about the benefits of an e-reader or eBooks in general. I always cite, if you love to read, you can read more books, while spending less. Speaking of spending less money there are plenty of Barnes and Noble coupons out there if you are looking to pick up some Nook books.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.