Most of us may laugh at those who still consume media in archaic forms. We question individuals who still listen to music with a walkman, read the news with a newspaper, communicate with a pager or record videos with a camcorder. But, why do we never consider the physical book is as outdated as the aforementioned?
The year is 2021, and there is little doubt the Kindle (or, at the very least, the “eReader”) is the way of the future. It is superior in ways we may have never even considered:
For the most part, every Kindle book will have a lower price tag compared to its physical counterpart.
It makes complete sense. There is no cost of printing another book, and there is no need to spend any money on shipping, which means the title will naturally be cheaper. Now, there are those individuals who choose to exploit this reality for greater margins and make more money, but for the most part, authors and publishers understand that readers expect the electronic version of a book to be at a discount, even a slight one.
Option 1: pay anywhere from $10 to $25 for a book. Option 2: pay anywhere from $1 to $10 for the same book. The choice is obvious. It’s a win for the author, who can sell a greater volume to a mostly price-conscious audience, and even more so for the consumer, who just saved enough to buy themselves lunch. Over the course of a lifetime, the savings for a reader of any capacity are astronomical.
The bookshelf is a rather needless piece of furniture these days. When we consider the fact we can store thousands of books on a single device no larger than the palm of my hand, it may come as a shock to witness people with large libraries of books displayed across entire living rooms, studies and spare bedrooms in neatly organized (and expensive) racks of rich mahogany. At this point, it is merely a symbol of status and wealth. Otherwise, it is largely unnecessary.
Putting aside the storage aspect, printing so many books leads to a great deal of waste and increased risk of deforestation. It is a burden on shipping companies, who need to move these relatively heavy products all around the world, all because we wanted to hold a document in our hands instead of receiving the information on a screen instead. When we have finished reading a book, how often do we really go back and read it again? If you’re like most people, once is typically the line. With that in mind, it makes no sense to store it on a shelf when you can have it live in the cloud — on a device that takes up no more room in your house than it previously had.
If you read through a book and never come across a word that you don’t know the meaning of, it probably means you need to upgrade the caliber of books you’re reading. Most people, however, defer to a dictionary when they stumble upon something unfamiliar or ambiguous.
The traditional way to seek the definition of a word is to put your current book down, find your dictionary (whether that be online or a physical copy), look up the word-in-question, put the dictionary away, then pick up your book again. That entire episode could take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, which may not sound like a lot of time, but can quickly add up over a lengthy book with a zesty vocabulary. Not only that, but performing this task over and over again can get quite repetitive and frustrating.
Enter the Kindle. See a word you don’t understand? Press and hold on said word. Definition pops up in less than a second. Continue reading. End of story.
The time, frustration, and energy saved by one small action is incalculable. This feature is so powerful, it could justify the purchase of a Kindle all on its own.
In my younger years, I would scoff at the idea of taking a highlighter to any of my books, whether it be a random novel or the Bible itself. I couldn’t fathom the thought of tarnishing or devaluing my book in that way. Sure, it could help me remember an important point (if I ever read it again), but it would hurt my soul to see a faded yellow or pink on an otherwise blemish-less document.
Every single one of my books remained highlighter-free. I would take important notes down on my phone or laptop, but never on my actual book. This way, I reasoned, I could gain the benefits of highlights without any of the downsides. And while this strategy worked, it was rather frustrating to rewrite excerpts from multiple pages and paragraphs. That is, until the Kindle came along.
Not only was it amazing to finally highlight my way through my favorite works, I could also delete them at will! That’s something you definitely can’t do with a traditional highlighter, and I doubt they will invent a highlight-undoer anytime soon (if at all). Better yet, I could pick from 5 different colors, which while not a gamechanger, was still useful to a degree.
But wait, there’s more. Kindle also allowed me to check my highlights section on my Amazon account. I didn’t have to rummage through every page of my just-finished book to find what I had previously marked down. I could find them all, collected in a neat library of notes in one simple click. I was in heaven.
But wait, there’s even more. When the Kindle received widespread adoption by the masses, it did an interesting thing. The next time I would read a book, it even showed me the phrases and sentences that others had highlighted! When that would occur, it would spur me to re-read that section again, to see what I had perhaps missed or not appreciated. After all, when it tells me that 394 other readers had specifically highlighted this one particular combination of words, there’s no doubt I’ll take another look at it.
Editable highlights, in multicolor, with a repository, along with social proof. What paperback can ever provide any of that?
The dictionary isn’t the only quick, convenient thing the Kindle creators have thought of.
A table of contents is an essential part of any book, no matter its length or subject matter. It allows us to prepare for what is coming, and also provides the option to skip to a certain section we may want to read first (or only). Thus, the page numbers are included for each respective chapter.
Page numbers are made for those who must then scroll through the book to find said page. Kindle, however, allows the reader to zoom to the chapter-in-question with one tap of a finger. That’s because everything is clickable in a Kindle. The time, energy and convenience savored (are you noticing a theme here yet?) make for an irresistible case.
But yes — you guessed it — there’s more. Diligent authors who like to cite every statement or assertion they make with a study or reference, often do so in the form of a superscript. If you’ve ever wanted to look that footnote up, then you already know how annoying it can be to do so on a regular book. But, with a Kindle? Click, view, and you’re onto the next point. Viola.
But…I don’t even have to say it (but I will)…there’s more! Sometimes, an author can’t describe something to you in any great detail with mere words: you have to see it for yourself. And so, when they must resort to providing a hyperlink to a web address, you no longer need to look at it, while typing it out verbatim on your laptop browser. One click magic device does it again.
The moment I click “Buy with one click” on any Kindle title, is the same moment it has arrived on my device, waiting for me to open it.
This is one thing even Amazon Prime members hold no candle to. How can you beat instantaneous delivery? You simply cannot. It doesn’t matter what you do. Kindle books will always, always arrive in your hands faster than any book ever could. Are you really going to wait 2, 3 or 4 days for a title? Is your time really that cheap it can be wasted on waiting, in leu of holding it mere seconds after you’ve decided it will be a worthy investment?
I think not. Instant shipping is the future. Digital is the way to go. Kindle will forever reign supreme, because humans never want to wait for anything. Similar to being cheaper, nobody will complain about something being delivered faster than was once previously. Nobody.
Of course, there are benefits for Kindle authors, too:
A published Kindle book isn’t confined the the restraints of borders or customs. It is available to all who can download the Kindle app. In other words, billions of people have access to your book, all around the world, 24/7, when they once couldn’t.
The English-reading population is not limited to the United States. They are found in every country, in every city, and in nearly every home. As a Kindle author, you have the benefit and privilege to spread your message to the globe at the click of a button.
Better yet, if you can afford a few translations, you could even reach the unreachable. With over 80% of the world’s population in possession of a smartphone, there is no describing the limitless potential you hold in delivering your words to billion of eyes. Billions.
Messed up a word or two? Received a few negative reviews based off one terribly constructed paragraph? All I can say is, thank God you’re not living in the 1800s!
Revising your Kindle book is as easy as uploading a file. No really. The KDP backend makes it seamless. Within a few hours, you could have your work reflect the changes people want to see. Not days. Not weeks. Not months. No paperback author could ever make that claim. In fact, whenever they do make a revision, it has to be done as a collective with other changes they had in mind from months prior, because it takes so much effort and time to get done. They also have to alert their entire audience about the revision, for no other reason than to sell some more copies and recoup the loss they just incurred from the entire debacle. What a conundrum.
Like software, a Kindle book can be modified in the morning with complete autonomy and released back into the public by nightfall. Your readers, and your reviews, will be much obliged.