Friday, November 2, 2012

eBook vs. printed book: 5 pros & cons of eBooks

eBook vs print book
eBook is booming at an increasingly rapid rate taking the region and sales into account. In several countries, such as in the US, eBooks have played a more and more important role in people’s daily life. Amazon has added a new feature, Whispercast, primarily for schoolteachers as well as office staff to share documents, which perfects the whole eReading system to some extent.

In the meantime, however, there are still a huge amount of people who are used to traditional paper books and eager to figure out how it makes sense to swing to eBooks. Here are 5 pros and cons of eBooks to help you understand this issue better.


1. Portability. 
Apparently, eBooks do not physically exist thus we can easily put hundreds of eBooks on any handy device with storage function, such as smartphones or tablets. Carrying a couple of books is quite heavy while an iPhone with thousands of eBooks is just nothing.

2. Conserve resources. 
Printing Traditional paper books consume a lot of resources: professional printing equipment, ink, paper (trees and other materials), workforce, etc. On the contrary, eBooks consume few resources except several computers (sometimes one is enough) with editing tools. In that respect, the transfer from printed books to electronic books may well be called a milestone.

3. Save money.
Besides Gutenberg, there are heaps of websites offering eBooks for free such as Tuebl and Free E-books. We can never get free paper books although second-hand books generally sell at good prices. Well, this is not always the fact. Some eBooks are actually more expensive than printed books, but not many.

4. Share with your friends.
We have access to sharing our reading experience and feelings with friends on Facebook, Twitter or even Google + when we read eBooks on devices with internet connected. Tell your friends what is touching you is a nice thing, isn't it? We need reading and we need communicating even more.

5. Other reasons:
#1 More and more authors are turning up
Technology and development of eBooks have brought more and more people to the eBook field. This is a good challenge for people who are fond of reading and writing as they can simply write a document, convert into EPUB with free eBook tools and basically send to their family and friends for the first glimpse.

#2 Trend
Nowadays we frequently deal with digital content such as World, Excel amd Power Point. eBooks deliver a direct way for us to combine the great words from authors with our own content with simple "select" and "copy" whereas paper books give people a remote feeling.

#3 Reading attachment
eBooks often come with specified reading software, which remarkably facilitates our reading-related operations: annotate, bookmark, Dictionary, Text-to-Speech (supported by some reading apps such as iBooks and Mantano), change reading mode (Day/Night) and the like.


1. DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Nearly all eBook companies, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony, enforce DRM restrictions on their eBooks so as to limit eBook copying, printing and sharing. We are exclusively allowed to read eBooks (from certain store) on corresponding readers or reading apps.

For black-and-white eReader users, reading eBooks from other stores seems to be fairly tough as these readers are mostly based on Linux OS, which is unable to install external reading applications as Android OS does. For instance, there is nearly no legal way to read a Kindle book on Nook Simple Touch since this book has been protected by Kindle DRM. The only solution might be remove Kindle DRM (AZW) and then convert the DMR-free Kindle MOBI book into Nook supported EPUB format. This is the same to reading Nook/Sony/Kobo books on E-INK kindle.

Well, things are much easier if we read on iPad or android tablet such as Kindle Fire as we can download and install various reading apps from different providers to read eBooks delivered by them. Just install Kindle for Android app on your Nook HD or anything else (root may be required), and then you are able to read books purchased from Amazon on your Nook tablet.

A recent case, which greatly maddens me, is that Amazon took back all the books and the account of its customer, Linn, who has potentially violated Amazon’s rule. Without any notice or detailed explanation! Poor Linn sent several emails to Amazon Executive Customer Relations, Michael Murphy but kept receiving vague reply. Linn totally lost all her purchased Kindle books and has no chance to apply for a new Amazon account!

Likewise, Kobo has announced that registered users are not allowed to share their account – not with a spouse, kids, anyone. Ridiculously, we are prohibited from commanding the books we've purchased within reason. It appears that we can share our account in private whereas this behavior is illegal!

2. Reading devices required. 
Reading eBooks on laptop seems sort of clunky, not to mention desktop, when carrying an eBook from one place to another is a need, like from your dormitory to classroom. As a result, we'd better invest extra money on dedicated reading devices for the real “portable and convenient" reading. What's more, different eReaders support different eBook formats, especially Amazon Kindle. Books from Amazon store are mostly AZW whereas eBooks from other stores, as with Barnes & Noble and Sony store, are popular EPUB, which are supported on all non-Kindle eReaders. This is a headache for general readers, however, it appears that Amazon will not sacrifice its interests to combine EPUB with Kindle. Of course, you can choose to read eBooks on smartphones or tablets while color glass screen is not as good as E ink one from the angle of eye-protection.

3. Cross-reference. 
When we have to consult several books at the same time, paper books are apparently more convenient. When it comes to eBooks on our reading devices, we have to close one book and open another to switch. It would be better if we cross-reference eBooks on our computer.

4. Inconvenience for Professional technical books. 
Technical books often contain formatting tables, diagrams, equations, etc, which are mostly eventually integrated into PDF eBooks. In fact, we have found that PDF are not friendly format for setting fonts or zooming. We can certainly convert PDF to EPUB OR MOBI for more comfortable reading, but the conversion is sometimes not so fluent out of those PDFs' odd structure.

5. Other cases
#1 Fail to download a purchased eBook due to the connection problem.
#2 Unaccustomed to reading eBooks on a device, such as turning the pages.
#3 Misoperations such as deleting a purchased book permanently by mistake.

On the whole, eBook is something we love and hate at the same time. I personally prefer to eBook as it is more convenient to me. We have every reason to believe that eBook will become a natural tendency exclusively from the angle of resource-conserving and environmental protection. Well, DRM might be the key impediment for quite a long time although there are a handful of stores offering DRM-free eBooks.