I have told you before that If I was not doing what I am doing today, I would love to be a librarian of a ginormous library! My own personal physical library has nearly 1,500 volumes in it (which I keep track of through a lifetime membership with Library Thing). It would be more but when we moved to Campeche I regrettably could not bring them all on the plane with us. There are not many things more traumatic to me than saying good-by to dear ones or dear books.
Soon after we arrived a friend gave us an iPod Touch (which I love to use to listen to audio books!) and this last Christmas I got a Kindle Paperwhite to read e-books on! (Don't know what an e-book is? Read this.) I still love the weight and feel and smell of physical books, but I am loving the Kindle and realizing there are defintely benefits to building an e-library! Here are just a few:
10 Benefits of an Ebook Library
As a general rule e-books are about 20-50% cheaper than physical books. This is NOT because the content is of a lesser quality or because it takes less time to write and edit (it does not). In fact e-books often contain extra material and links not found in their printed counterparts. E-books are cheaper because you skip the cost of materials and labor for printing, binding, packaging and shipping.
Ultimate Bundles has a a few times a year e-book sale where they put together a large number of quality e-books for an incredibly low price. Their sales are generally only available for a few days.
And the Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale is another great ebook resource especially for missionaries or those living overseas who have difficulty shipping curriculum each year.
Many e-book authors also offer their books free from time to time during special promotions, and if you own a Kindle you can often borrow e-books for a week or two at a time, much like lending a physical book at a brick and mortar library, or share them with a friend.
You can search for free books on Amazon or subscribe to blogs that send out weekly reports of the best family friendly free e-books for the week. Always double check the prices before buying, as the prices tend to change without warning.
2. Faster delivery
E-books can arrive via e-mail or be sent directly to your computer, Kindle, or e-reader within mere seconds of making your purchase, while physical book delivery time can vary from days to weeks. The almost instant access to the information you seek is a definite benefit of e-books.
Libraries and bookstores are staffed by humans who need sleep and thus are often closed in the middle of the night when you get your hankering to read or need one more book to finish that project.
And if you live somewhere where it's hard to get books in your native language and/or shipping costs are really high, e-books can be a great option! E-books are available online 24 hours a day and are generally available internationally as well. Search, select, buy, read. It's as easy as that!
It is becoming more and more possible to get out hard to find and of print books in e-book form as well. I have found several as e-books that I could not find anywhere else.
4. More compact library
Our home library now takes up the majority of the office wall space (which thrills my librarian heart!) However, for those people who don't have the space in their homes for a quality physical library. E-books are the way to go! E-books can be stored on your computer's hard drive, e-reader or cloud drive, so you don't have to sacrifice knowledge for lack of space. See this article for how to store books on a cloud.
5. Have library, will travel
Gone are the days of vacation suitcases full of books. Your back will thank you! With e-books you just need to carry your laptop or e-reader with you and you can have access to your entire library regardless of where you are! Keep in mind, however, that if you store your e-books on a cloud, you will need wi-fi access, or just download the ones you want to take prior to leaving home.
6. Special features
Most e-readers allow you to search within the e-book. You can bookmark passages to come back to later, and they will save your place for you allowing you to open and begin again right where you left off without worrying that your child lost your place, or that the bookmark fell out. You can often get an e-book copy of the Bible (like this one) for free or really cheap, which makes it much easier for a tech savvy new Christian to find passages using the linked table of contents or the search option.
Many e-books also include links to other resources that are accessible directly from the e-book. Or they'll have the added benefit of audio or video clips embedded right in the e-book.
Some also have audio book or read to me features.
E-books also allow you the luxury of changing the font type and size as well as to adjust the brightness level of the screen for optimum reading in the sunshine or in the dark! I love that my Kindle Paperwhite allows me to read in the dark, when I can't sleep but don't want to disturb Hero with the light. And the look of the page resembles an physical page so much that I have found myself absentmindedly trying to turn the page on occasion instead of touching the screen to advance it.
Another definite benefit of E-books is that you can purchase accessories for them! Things like waterproof cases, earbuds/earphones to listen (if your e-reader has voice capabilities) pretty covers (like mine), and other things.
9. Longer shelf life
Some books “live” a long time. I've seen Bibles and other classics preserved for a few hundred years under glass and climate controlled conditions. Other paper books however only last 10-20 years due to moisture, mold, mice, silverfish, fire, etc. E-books however, could potentially last thousands of years as digital files. Who knows what the future may hold.
10. Eco friendly
If you're concerned at all about the environment, an e-book library makes sense because it's all digital. No trees are consumed in the process of creating e-books, which means that potentially you'll have more trees to sit under as you enjoy your e-book!
Disadvantages of E-books
I would be remiss if I did not also mention the few disadvantages of e-books that I have discovered.
- A plastic device with digital words does not have the same look, feel or smell as a physical printed-on-paper book. While the accessibility and availability of the material is a plus, there is just nothing that will compare to the magic of a room full of books.
- E-book technology makes it much easier for anyone to publish anything. Hence there are A LOT of junk e-books out there that lack quality both in content and presentation. Be careful to evaluate what you download and don't be afraid to delete it if it is not praiseworthy.
- Having the convenience to shop, download and view digital content from a personal device also allows for greater possibility of feeding “secret sinful habits”. Be sure to establish accountability and filters for your own protection and that of your family.
- Where a physical book can be dried off and aired out, electronic reading device unfortunately does not often survive a coffee spill, so if you're prone to that you probably want to stick to paper books!
I'd love to know whether you love e-books or hate them, and why. Are there pros and cons that I've forgotten to mention? Please add them in the comments.