Monday, September 3, 2012

Why ebooks do not work!

           EBooks seem to be all the rage these days. Ebooks can be read on a computer, or a smartphone, or a Tablet or even on some TV's and Blu Ray DVD players through the television. We hear that American Airlines is replacing paper manuals with iPads and electronic manuals. We hear of schools that have gone from traditional books to ebooks and ebook readers (like iPads). So, what is wrong with ebooks?
           First of all not all books have been converted to ebooks. School textbooks may be converted for some levels of the K-12 educational system, but most are not. Also any Masters or Graduate work in colleges or universities have not been converted. Just a cursory glance on Amazon on the topic of Quantum Physics shows almost no books have Kindle editions.
           Library science is a field all its own with the Dewey Decimal system and how to use the library system for research. The Internet, as vast and useful as it is cannot replace a well stocked library. With a few execptions (Kindle ebooks that have never been printed) almost all new books are published on paper using traditional means first. And, even if there are electronic books they eventually may be published on paper.
           Also, with the proliferation of ebook readers comes the danger of buying an ebook and putting it on various devices (Computer, Kindle reader, smartphone) and when you go to read it you get a warning that it must be re-bought because your license to read the book has been exceeded by too many devices. It's better to have just bought the book in traditional paper to begin with. You will not pick it up and get told you have buy it again because the license has expired!
           Another problem with ebooks is electricity. Although it appears to be plentiful, it is not. Electricity works well when it works, but hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, wreckless drivers and many other factors can cut off you electricity at any time. It is subject to random outtages. How can you read you ebook when the lights are out and your ereader is out of power. It becomes useless!
          Recently some colleges and universities have restricted the students living on campus as to the number of electronic devices they are allowed to power up. TV's . computers. smartphones, game consoles, tablets etc. all cost money in electricity.
          So, to a student studying for a Masters or Doctorate degree ebooks are useless or non-existant. Our children are being short changed in their education because they are being taught that ebooks are better than traditional paper books. This is wrong. Our children need solid library skills. They need to be able to hold a book in their hands not some electronic device dependent on electricity and some server called "The Cloud" somewhere. For our children's future we need to stress the need to have paper books and well stocked libraries in our schools, our communities and our homes.
           I remember in elementary school that children were given an assignment to go home and cut pictures out of magazines and make montages and collages. How can you cut pictures our of a eMagazine? Yes , traditional newspapers and magazines takes up some space in your home, but it is space well worth it. Try to line the bottom of a birdcage with an eNewspaper!
           I can't help but think that we as a civilization have lost something vital by depending on electronic books, magazines and newspapers.