A friend of mine - a sister Baby Boomer and an author - recently wrote:
I feel like a dinosaur, reading paper books and resisting reading e-books!
eBook User Demographics
- Flipping pages is much easier. Paper pages tend to stick together, and when I'm reading a hard copy book, I often find myself fumbling to separate two of them to get to the next one. Maybe I'm spoiled, but this quickly gets annoying. When I'm reading an ebook, I just tap on the screen (or swipe) and it flips one page. No fumbling.
- An ebook reader can be much lighter than a book. The various devices I read on range between a few ounces and just under two pounds: Moto X s iPad Air 2, 1 lb; Chromebook (with keyboard), 1 lb 15 oz. By contrast, the Murder Ink paperback weighs one pound, and two hardcover books I have on hand weigh 1 lb 5 oz and 2 lb 1 oz, respectively.
- An ebook reader can contain dozens or hundreds of ebooks. As long as I have my phone (or any other device) with me, I can read any ebook I own or have borrowed from a library. I can have an entire personal library in my pocket.
- I can borrow ebooks from the my state library or other sources like openlibrary.org, gutenberg.ca, or gutenberg.org, and I can do this instantly. If a book is available, it will download to my device in seconds. No driving to and from the library to pick up and drop off my borrows. If a book isn't available from the state library right now, I can have the library send me an email and automatically borrow it when it does become available.
- I can buy ebooks from Amazon and download them instantly as well. eBooks are generally cheaper than hard copy, and some are as little as 99 cents. And for $15 a month, Amazon has a monthly subscription service that makes over a million books available instantly. If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, there are also many ebooks included for free with the Prime subscription. And there are sites such as BookBub, which sends me an email every day containing a list of books in my favorite genres, almost all of which are either free or on sale for a dollar or two.
- The Kindle software syncs between devices. I can be reading on my Chromebook, put it down, go for a drive, stop at an appointment or a restaurant, and take out my phone and pick up right from where I left off on the Chromebook. When I get home, I can go upstairs and lie down with my iPad and continue from where I left off on my phone.
- I can save bookmarks, highlight passages, and enter notes on a given passage on any ebook I'm reading. All these markups get synced across all my devices, automatically. I can view a list of them and zip to any one of them instantly, with a couple of taps on my screen.
- I can copy a passage from an ebook and paste it into an email or a document.
- I can change the font, the size of the font, the color of the background, the brightness of the backlight, the size of the margins, the spacing between lines, and even whether the text is left-aligned or fully justified. So I can make the book's text look exactly like I want it to, as easy as possible on my eyes. (See next item for an exception.)
- I can read ebooks outdoors in bright sunlight. My Kindle E-reader has no backlighting and relies on ambient light, just like a hard copy book. This means the text is readable outdoors in bright sunlight. If you find backlighting tiring, you might like a Kindle Reader. Note: because my Kindle E-reader has no backlight, there's no backlight adjustment. Other Kindle E-reader models do have a backlight and also work in ambient light, giving the best of both worlds.
- With a few taps, I can post my rating of a book (one to five stars) to both Goodreads and Amazon, along with a review if I feel like writing one.
- I can stash my ebooks into collections, where I can quickly reference them later. Fiction, Bios, Humor, etc. I also have created a collection for each rating I give, so I can quickly look up my Faves (5 stars), books I've rated Good (4 stars) or Average (3), and avoid the ones I've labeled Rejects (1 or 2 stars).
- In my experience, the biggest drawback is the learning curve involved in using an e-reader or app. You have to learn your way around the app or device, and you also have to learn how to access and download books from your retailer (such as Amazon) and/or libraries or other sources. But this learning curve, while it can be daunting at first, is actually not too difficult to climb. The devices and apps are fairly intuitive, and there are various sources for help, including the Web, and friends (like me).
- I've had to get into the habit of keeping the batteries in my various devices charged.
- A device has to be connected to the Internet in order to download ebooks or to sync bookmarks, highlights, comments, last page read, etc.
- If I accidentally touch the screen of a device while an ebook is open on it, I can inadvertently page forward or backward.
- I'm dependent on Amazon for access to any books I bought from them which are not currently on my devices, so if Amazon ever goes belly up, my books will be lost. Given the monster success that Amazon is currently experiencing (CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet), this seems unlikely to happen any time soon.
- The Android app differs slightly in its functionality from the iOS apps, and the Kindle devices are each different yet again. So there is a (relatively small) learning curve when getting a new device.
At first, the learning curve may seem steep, especially for people who aren't that much into computers. But ebook reading apps and devices are designed to be as intuitive as possible, and the necessary knowledge is readily available online.
As long as you have a Kindle-capable device (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac) you could download the appropriate Kindle app, grab an ebook from one of the free online libraries, and give reading it try to see how you like it. This wouldn't cost anything but a little time.