Books Magazine

6 Features E-Readers Need Before I’ll Use One

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

I don’t mean to be that guy. But I just can’t help it—I’m that guy.

I’m the guy who doesn’t use e-readers. I know that makes me a literary old fogie—part of a dying breed that includes snobby lit professors and hipster independent bookstore owners.

But it’s true.

Now, before you berate me for being elitist and antiquated and the most horrible human on earth, let me say this:

If you like e-readers, I won’t judge you. I really won’t. It’s your literary life, my friend. You live it like you need to live it. I understand why you like them, so more power to you.

But me? I’m not an e-reader guy.

That is, I’m not an e-reader guy until the following things happen.

They need to smell.

Like paper. I recently read that “digital scents” in televisions are the next big thing. So, for example, if you’re watching a Pizza Hut commercial, your television will emit the smell of a freshly baked pizza. Don’t ask me how these things work, but I want digital books to do that. I know, I’m such a loser sentimentalist.

They need to come with a free version of the paperback.

Or, at least, a highly discounted version. If the digital version is $10, I should be able to get a paper version for $5.

Their covers should be more prominent.

I love book covers, but I feel like they get lost with e-readers. With paper books, you see the cover every time you pick it up. How often do you look at an e-reader cover?

They need to be sand resistant.

My wife always buys paper books, instead of using her Kindle, when we go on beach vacations. That seems to defeat the purpose of the Kindle’s convenience and portability. Can’t we figure out a way to make sand not kill these things?

They need to be spill proof.

Two words: Toilet water. If I drop my paperback into the toilet whilst taking care of my business, I buy a new one for 12 bucks. If I drop my Kindle into the toilet, I’m out $100 barring a miracle in a bowl of rice.

They need to be readable 50 years from now.

I plan ahead. If I like a book, I want to remember that I liked the book. I want to see it in front of me, not embedded in some folder archive on my computer. So what happens to my e-reader books 20 years from now when e-readers are antiquated and book holographs are the cutting edge technology?

Let me expand on that last one. I mean, I have two hard drives at my house with files from my old computers that I’ve never done anything with. I’m not even sure, though I hope, I can access the things if I ever need them. So how am I supposed to keep up with all the e-reading technologies over the next few decades, making sure I transfer all my books in and through all the different versions of the e-reader?

That’s a lot of work. Forget about iOS 7, I never updated my iPhone to the previous version. I suck at updating my tech gadgets.

For me, it just eases my simple, non technology-savvy mind to know that the paper book I buy in 2013 will still be just as readable in 2053. That’s the crux of the issue.

My wife loves the things—and you probably do as well. After all, according to the New York Times, 20% of American readers own a digital reading device.

So maybe these are ignorant, uninformed questions. That could be true. All of these issues might have already been addressed, and maybe I’m just living in an old fogey paperback bubble.

So that’s where you come in. Are the above e-reader “issues” even issues to you? And, if they aren’t—why not?

Keep it civil. People seem to get disproportionately angry about this topic.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog