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eReaders bring a new perspective to reading

Photo: Alona Skipper

eReaders are gaining popularity over traditional paper books.

By Kerrianne Ryan, Staff Writer

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Centuries ago, books were written on animal skins or scratched onto stones. In the 1400s, the technological wonder called a printing press was invented, and publishing was never the same. Now technology is taking books to a whole new level in the form of eReaders.

In 2007, Amazon revolutionized the reading industry by introducing the first physical eReader, the Kindle. This small device, 7.5 inches x 5.3 inches, was the first step to the newest way to read.

Since the release of the Kindle, multiple other eReaders have appeared on the market, including Sony’s Reader, Borders’ Kobo, Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. These portable reading devices range in price from $100 to $300 and essentially all do the same thing: allow avid readers, or even just casual readers, to carry thousands of books with them wherever they may go.

Not only do eReaders offer portability and the capability to hold many books, they’re also lightweight and allow readers to read even in the bright sunlight or at night. Users praise eReaders for their handiness.

“I love reading on my Kindle because I can change the letter size and read while I’m on the treadmill. It’s very handy,” said Fairmont English teacher Sherri Alexander.

Multitasking is a plus for Fairmont English teacher Juliet MonBeck, as well.

“I knit while I read, so reading from my Kindle is a lot easier. It enables multitasking,” said MonBeck. “I also have a case on it, so I don’t have to worry about spilling coffee on my book and wrinkling my pages.”

Want to curl up with a good … Kindle?

Despite the positive aspects of these pieces of technology, some students feel that it isn’t the same experience.

“Reading from an eReader just isn’t the same as reading from a normal book,” junior Teresa Slonaker said. “It doesn’t feel the same, and I would miss the feeling of the paper.”

By using an eReader, the reader misses out on what many readers love most about their books. The reader can’t feel the paper or dog tag the pages (although you can bookmark your spot on eReaders). 

“I really wouldn’t want to use an eReader,” junior Morgan Goetz said. “You can get books from a library for free. I don’t see the big deal about reading on a piece of technology. I’d rather have my money used on something more fun.”

Others dislike eReaders for the possibility they pose for book censorship.

“I don’t like eReaders because the distributors can choose the books they post online,” said junior Christian Davell. “They might take out controversial books and we’ll be living in a Fahrenheit 451 world.”

 For those who haven’t read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, it’s a futuristic novel in which the instant gratification provided by technology results in censorship of actual books.

Yet, some readers swear by their eReaders despite the possible drawbacks.

“I thought that I would miss regular books,” said Alexander. “But now I would definitely choose my Kindle over a book.”

Casual, light reading isn’t all these pieces of technology are being used for, however.  The University of Notre Dame is one of the first colleges in the United States to incorporate eReaders into courses. 

Notre Dame’s “Project Management” course, casually known by students as the “iPad class,” has adopted iPads instead of traditional textbooks and paperwork. Each student enrolled in the class is given an iPad for the duration of the class. They’re allowed to upload their own music and applications while they have the iPad, but they can’t keep the devices after the class ends.

Assistant Professor of Management Corey Angst teaches the class and told the Notre Dame News that he wanted the students to share how they plan to use their iPads and if they feel it’s useful for the class.

eReaders would make backpacks lighter

Fairmont teachers already employ a variety of technology, such as Smart Boards, Moodle, Progress Book and teacher websites. Could eReaders be in Fairmont’s future?

“I think it would be phenomenal to have eReaders at Fairmont,” said Alexander. “If it was possible, I would rather have them in my classes instead of textbooks or handing out copies of books. It would make it easier for students who are required to purchase books for class, since they could just buy it straight on the device.”

Davell’s opinion differs and he feels that it wouldn’t be an improvement. “I don’t like eReaders at all, and if I was given the choice, I would still use the real books.”

Goetz thinks eReaders come at a price that may not be worth what they have to offer.

“For the school to be able to afford eReaders, Kettering would have to raise taxes, and I wouldn’t want that, since we already have a book system that works,” Goetz said. “And without raising taxes, students would have to pay for the eReaders themselves and I personally wouldn’t want that. They might be easier to carry around, but I think the costs are just too high.”

MonBeck agrees that money is a big factor when it comes to incorporating eReaders intoFairmont’s curriculum.  

“If money wasn’t an issue, I think it would be nice to have Kindles in our classrooms. It would save teachers a lot of time, because having to pass out and collect books can sometimes take a full period,” MonBeck said. “But I think the risks are too high. It’s easy to replace a $7 book when a student loses it, but it’s a lot harder to replace a $150 Kindle.”

Money isn’t the only thing that concerns MonBeck, though. “I think that it could be a danger to students if we started using eReaders, because if they don’t have e-Ink, it could strain the students’ eyes, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that,” MonBeck said.

e-Ink is an electronic paper display (EDP) used in the most popular eReaders, such as the Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Reader. This EPD contains the same pigments as normal paper, and by taking advantage of chemistry, physics and electronics, the creators of e-Ink are able to simulate the appearance of paper. This e-Ink is a lot easier on the reader’s eyes, in comparison to the iPad’s LCD screen.

Whether eReaders are in Fairmont’s future or not, they are still one of America’s latest crazes and some believe they’ll continue to grow in popularity. “It’s amazing to think books may be collector’s items in the future, and they won’t be the social norm anymore,” said Alexander.

Check out more of our features on entertainment gadgets:

12/7/2011: Apple may have finally met its match in the Droid

Want to narrow down your eReader options? Check out these (safe) review sites:

Kerrianne Ryan, Features/Entertainment Editor

Hey there! My name's Kerrianne Ryan, and this is my second year on staff. I'm looking forward to spending the semester I have left at Fairmont working...

1 Comment

One Response to “eReaders bring a new perspective to reading”

  1. Dakota Miller on September 28th, 2011 9:46 am

    eReaders would be interesting and useful to have in class, but like the article says, they’re just too expensive. It would probably require another levy or simply a raising of taxes to the citizens of Kettering in tough economic times, or require students to go out and buy an expensive piece of technology. Especially for the first few years before the school has some to rent out, I don’t think having people need to buy a $150 eReader for their English class on top of school fees, testing costs, and a $125 calculator for their Math classes, especially for classes that you need to take, is a good idea. It would be just plain silly.

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eReaders bring a new perspective to reading