As a massive fan of both books and technology, the physical versus digital debate is something I always consider before starting a new book. Generally, I have a physical and a digital copy of the books I read, so which one do I choose? For me, that depends on what I plan on doing! If I’m planning to travel a lot, then a digital copy will be way handier – I can open up the Kindle app on my phone and it takes up no extra space. If I’m cosy at home, then I’ll always read a physical copy. There’s nothing like it.
Cassie, who writes at Cultural Coverage, has written and shared a guest post which delves deeper into how technology has changed the way we enjoy books. With us both sharing a love for technology, entertainment and all things books, it’s a pleasure to have Cassie on the blog!
Aside from the obvious screen time versus page time, there are major ways book lovers benefit from how the technology age has transformed the written word.
From tablets to apps, there are more ways than ever to make books enjoyable, and armed with a little tech advancement and a few tools, these five points are sure to convert even a hard-copy-only reader into a digital lover.
- A Variety of E-readers Means a Choice of Features
The world went wild when Amazon’s Kindle released. Would this be the end of hardcover books? Are our eyes going to suffer from all the screen time? Is it really possible to download whatever we want to read instantaneously?
While the answers didn’t upend the publishing world completely, they did change things. Now instant access to literature is possible, our eyes have learned to adjust, and there are still plenty of hardcovers out there for the masses. E-readers have branched out considerably. Some are waterproof, such as the B&N Nook GlowLight Plus. Some are incredibly lightweight and easy to travel with, such as the Amazon Kindle Oasis. Others have new features like ad-free reading, integrated lights and a streamlined design.
- Indie Writers Get Exposure
The internet and all its book lovers have really made the indie writer huge in the last twenty years. From chapter-by-chapter writers such as Hugh Howey and his book “Wool” to global best-sellers such as E.L. James and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the day of the publishing-house-only rule is long gone. Now writers can self-publish online, and readers can discover them even if they’ve never signed a book deal.
Websites such as Blurb help writers of travel, cookbooks and even magazines self-publish and then provide the books for sale on their site in the staff picks section. Blogosphere platforms such as Tumblr and Reddit are also great places to discover the next up-and-coming talent, all for free.
- Audiobooks Offer More Entertainment
While the audiobook is nothing new—CDs and cassettes have long been in rotation—they have become more convenient and accessible. From Audible to Amazon, there are a million choices for readers who are looking to listen their way through the next great classic.
Not only do the voiceovers offer endless entertainment—Harry Potter is even more popular since Jim Dale took to reading the series—they can also enthrall readers who are commuting or who are too tired to stare at a page by giving them new ways to become a part of the story.
- Apps and Online Tools Enhance the Reading Experience
New tools also help to discover new books and authors, keep track of old books and transfer downloads from one device to the next, so here’s the shortlist of must-haves for the avid book lover.
- Goodreads: It’s all in the title. This huge online resource for book reviews is number one in letting you express your opinion on your last read and get started with your next one.
- Shelfie: This app works like an online library where you can organize books you have and even download free (or reduced price) e-books to carry around in your pocket.
- Scribd: Scribd is for the reader who is spending more than $10 a month on new reads. At $8.99 a month, the app has over a million titles to choose from and unlimited access to them. It’s perfect for on-the-go readers and digital nomads.
- Camp NaNoWriMo: This online program is great for not just book lovers but writers as well. The name “camp” harkens back to childhood summers, and this online guide to getting your first work into print offers the same kind of fun with daily writing goals. Well-paced and full of resources, Camp NanoWriMo is the go-to for budding novelists.
- ExpressVPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is great for readers who love their devices and download e-books a lot. From protecting your reading device—be it tablet or e-reader—from security breaches to allowing you to navigate international texts even if they have a geo-location block, VPNs like ExpressVPN are the perfect aid to any online reader.
- Free Books Mean Greater Accessibility
It’s no secret the book industry is an expensive one, but since websites have discovered the beauty of self-publishing and the end of copyright, many books are available to the masses completely free of charge.
Websites such as Project Gutenberg provide free e-books for download, and Google Books provides titles on their website e-reader free of charge (with the added help of Google Play, where those inclined can peruse their buyable titles), which means you can get going on a new book without a visit to the library (although I still encourage you to do that!).
From great applications that organize books we’ve read to devices that allow us to take whole libraries on the go, technology has had a major impact on the way we read, and the good news is it means great reads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So tech up, and go consume great works of art!
About the author: Cassie is a self-diagnosed bibliophile and tech guru always on the search for ways to get written words out into the world and especially into her ear. Working on a novel of her own, she hopes one day to publish and join the ranks of the great like Twain, Gaiman and Morrison. She wishes you happy reading!
What do you think? Do you prefer physical or digital copies? Either way, there’s no denying that technology has absolutely revolutionised the way we enjoy books.
You can read my previous post here.
Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills