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Is the paperback set to become a thing of the past?

Is the paperback set to become a thing of the past?

Posted: 02 Aug 2011

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Issued by Sainsbury's Finance

Is the paperback set to become a thing of the past?

For people who really enjoy reading, there can be few greater pleasures than curling up with a favourite book and allowing an afternoon to pass away in rapt concentration. And while a quiet corner and a comfortable chair are major factors in this experience, perhaps just as important for some is the simple feel of a book itself.

But it seems as if the satisfying texture of the printed page - and its intoxicating smell - is increasingly giving way to the sheen of a digital screen, as electronic readers start to take off in the UK. E-readers - effectively a book-sized screen - aim to provide a natural reading experience, while cramming perhaps hundreds of volumes into a thin, sleek body.

It’s true that e-readers had been relatively slow to catch on in this country - perhaps due to the fact that book giant Amazon’s market-leading Kindle, recognised as being the iPod of the e-reader world, has only had a UK online book store since August 2010.

And Amazon recently reported that e-books were outselling paperbacks and hardbacks combined across its whole business, while sales in the UK market over the past few months have reportedly astonished Amazon.

Pros

So, what do they have to offer the conventional bookworm?

In terms of usage, one of the obvious benefits an e-reader has over the printed word is that of convenience. Amazon says that the latest Kindle - effectively the third-generation model - can store up to 3,500 books within its sleek innards. Compare this to popping more than a couple of books in your holiday luggage, and it may start to make sense. In addition, the latest version weighs around half a pound.

More than this, though, the screen - for some, the bugbear of using a computer - is not backlit, and is configured so that can be read in direct sunlight, meaning the experience of reading a book in the real world is not compromised. Also, it is designed so the individual letters look ‘printed’, meaning it is less harsh on the eye than an LED screen. And because there is little illumination needed, the Kindle has a long battery life - allowing you to really pore over the ‘pages’, without worrying about having your enjoyment interrupted.

Another factor is price. Once you’ve bought the device, which starts at around £110, you may find yourself saving longer term if you are a real bookworm. Popular books can also be far cheaper to download than buying the equivalent paperback.

And if you have an Apple iPad, you can download the Kindle app, meaning you can enjoy the books on your device.

Cons

Clearly, there are going to be some people for whom the idea just doesn’t float their boat - and so decide that they don’t like e-readers without giving one a go.
For those who really love the feel of a book in their hands, the argument about convenience - or even the space you could save from de-cluttering your home of books - isn’t going to be a compelling one.

Some even warn that, whichever way you cut it, reading on a screen is not the same as reading the printed page, and claim that the experience is even changing the way we think as humans - though this is more in relation to web pages, than the Kindle experience.

But if you are willing to give an e-reader a go, buying an e-reader and downloading books can be done conveniently online. Using credit cards could be an option to help you manage the cost.

Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance

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