Viewpoint: Why e-readers are not evil

There are hundreds of types of them, several colors, prices and sizes. You can get accessories, apps and attachments. E-readers have been very popular in the last few years, and there are also several opinions about them.

There are those who are huge fans, owning e-readers and toting them around like trophies, and the other extreme — those who think e-readers are the downfall of books and will eventually take over the planet and destroy libraries everywhere. Some, obviously, don’t really care either way.

When I first realized the apparent war over e-readers was when I worked at a bookshop a few years ago. I was in the back room during break, reading on my e-reader and suddenly a co-worker was complaining about how much of a traitor I was. He claimed that “real” book lovers shouldn’t own e-readers because it wasn’t really like reading a book at all. Apparently if you read something through technology it doesn’t hold the same value in content.

There any many people who think that you’re not fully appreciating an author’s work by downloading it onto an e-reader or your computer instead of driving to a bookstore, searching (sometimes waiting) for it, buying it for a higher price, coming home and reading the book.

I disagree, obviously, owning an e-reader. I’m in love with books; they’re my favorite things in the entire world. I spend all my extra money buying them, I have a collection at home and I’m working on writing one too. Bound books are gorgeous, the smell of the paper and the careful choosing of type and cover art is amazing for each and every book.

However, this does not stop me from using my e-reader too. I think that the value of the book is not lost on me at all just because I’m reading it through a different medium.

I personally see a lot of advantages in owning an e-reader, because it’s light and easy to carry around, I can have my whole library right there. I can read it in both the day and night and I can plug my headphones in and listen to music while reading as well.

E-readers are not the spawn of Satan and no one should be mocked for owning one. Give me e-liberty, or give me e-death, right?

I understand that there’s a certain nostalgia in turning the page in a book, making notes in the margins, having an actual bookmark and such. But the thing is, I’m not ever going to get rid of the books I already own. I’m just adding to the experience, not detracting from it.

Similar issues arose when e-mail first began, and those who wrote letters became “old-fashioned.” People think that no one writes letters anymore, and indeed, the recent studies show that letter-writing has decreased but not disappeared.

I still have two pen pals that I write to often, and I know how valuable a hand-written letter is compared to a few lines through the computer or phone. A text message to a best friend is not the same thing as a letter written with a certain type of calligraphy and particular stationary with a goofy stamp on top.

The thing is that e-readers have sort of become tablets too. My new Kindle Fire HD has the same basic applications as the Apple iPad, and it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper as well. There are tons of e-readers now, and the tablets and computers all have e-book reader apps as well. E-ink in general has become a whole new genre of books almost and several students buy e-textbooks to help them for classes.

Is this really the end of paper books around the world? I don’t think so. I think as long as there are still libraries, bookstores, leather-bound journals, handwritten letters, professors who require you to bring a hardback textbook that weighs 50 pounds to class… no, books aren’t going anywhere.

Baylor is set to host an event about this very subject, 2:30 p.m. on Friday, in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Library. It will be a lecture by book artists, called “The Future of the Physical Book in the Digital Age.” I’m interested to see what the lecture will be about, but I don’t think it’ll take away my opinion of the advantages on e-readers and the ability to still be a book lover while owning an e-reader.

There may be more digitization in the future, but I won’t let you take my paperbacks away from me — over my dead body.

Mashaal Hashmi is a junior English major from Keller, TX. She is a copy editor for the Lariat.