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Flawed Technology

October 18, 2010
Junction City High School

Flawed Technology

by Colleen Mumford
staff contributor
Maroon & Gold

On July 19, 2010, Amazon.com announced that its Kindle e-books are now outpacing the sales of hard cover books.  According to techcrunch.com, in the three months before that date, Amazon sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 paper sales.  What does this say about the future?  Will e-books replace paper books the way iPods replaced cassettes? 
   In my opinion, there are some definite advantages to an e-book.  They are much lighter, and you can carry a vast library all on a small electronic pad.  Kindle has over 630,000 titles for sale, plus over 1.8 million free books from before 1923 that are out of copyright.  They are more environmentally friendly- think about the paper and ink you would save by converting all your books to an e-book reader .  Thanks to zoom functioning and display lighting, they are easily readable in any condition.  Kindles include an “e-ink” technology that closely resembles paper and eliminates most problems with eyestrain.  Also, the prices are dropping- Kindles prices were recently cut from $259 to $189 while paper book prices seem to increase each time I visit the bookstore.

   However, there are also significant drawbacks to reading an e-book instead of a printed copy.  They are not very durable- what happens if you spill a beverage on it? Or what if you accidentally drop it?  Goodbye, $189 dollars.  The batteries don’t last forever, and there can be freezing problems from software bugs.  Plus, you lose all of the memories that from a hard cover copy of your favorite book.  I remember opening up a book I hadn’t read in years to find a note from elementary school I had used as a bookmark.  That brought back memories in a way an e-book never could.  It is also easier to purchase novels- you can buy them anywhere, but, for example, you can only buy books for the Kindle on Amazon so you have a much smaller range of prices and titles.  They don’t need power to function, and they are durable.  Sure, the pages might get a little creased or wrinkeld if left in the rain, but it is impossible-as far as I know- to destroy a book just by dropping it.

   Both sides have advantages, and I don’t believe that e-books will eliminate hard covers immediately- or even in our life times.  But they are a sign of our increasingly electronic world.  Perhaps even e-books will be replaced soon by an even newer technology.  For me, though, the convenience of an electronic reader will never replace the memories of reading a paper book.   

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