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What Are You Reading and Where Are You Getting it From?
“Printed books are dead,” you’ve probably heard from well-meaning book club members or earnest trend-spotters over the years.
“Libraries are no longer relevant,” other naysayers have chimed in as well.
“Paper is becoming obsolete!” Everyone is getting in on the party.
However, true book lovers know that no matter how popular digital books become, nothing can replace the experience of reading from an actual book, nothing can replace a library or bookstore, and paper is still being used aplenty.
Luckily, printed-book lovers everywhere are backed up by fairly recent reports that despite the growing popularity of eBooks, printed books are thriving. Libraries are essential to society. And paper isn’t going anywhere so quickly.
Now, don’t get us wrong—we’re not against eBooks. In fact, eBooks have given so many of us book lovers the opportunity to read while on the go, as well as access to titles that otherwise would have been hard to get. And eBooks are so easy to get—just click your mouse or tap your screen a few times, and voila—you have a book before your very eyes.
So yes, eBooks are great—but printed books are still alive and kicking!
Where Did eBooks Even Come From?
Sure, everyone has heard of eBooks today, but that wasn’t always the case. Way before the Kindle, there was Project Gutenberg, launched in 1971 by Michael Hart at the University of Illinois. The first document he uploaded as a digital file was the Declaration of Independence. Of course, most people hadn’t even heard of computers back then, let alone the internet.
After that, various companies and entrepreneurs continued trying to develop something akin to eBooks, but the technology hadn’t yet caught up with the concept. In 1992, Sony launched the Data Discman, which could read eBooks that were stored on CDs. In 2006, the company launched the Sony Reader, one of the first modern eBook readers.
But the real revolution came with the Amazon Kindle. When Amazon launched its Kindle in 2007, the world as we knew it changed. Book store owners scrambled, wrung their hands, sought out partnerships, and tried to come up with ways to stay relevant. While some managed (Barnes & Noble), others didn’t (Borders, which closed in 2010).
Today, eReaders abound, and while bookstore owners still need to stay at the top of their game in order to stay relevant, there is no question that there is enough of a reader market for both eBooks and printed books.
eBooks Vs. Printed Books—What Do You Prefer, and Where Can You Get Them?
Are you the kind of person who finds comfort in reading a printed book and can’t imagine reading from a screen and swiping to “turn pages?” If so, Amazon is one of the best websites for book lovers of all kinds; while the company really launched the eBook fad, it still sells millions of printed books all over the world.
Printed book lovers will probably enjoy websites like Literary Hub and Book Riot as well, two websites dedicated not to retail but to the latest reviews, news, essays, and everything else book-related. Goodreads is a kind of mixture of the three—it’s a site where you can get updates on the latest books, read reviews, and order hard copies from linked online bookstores.
If, on the other hand, you are an all-out eBook fan and can’t get enough of the millions of titles available with a few flicks of your fingers, you’re in luck. There have never been so many quality websites where you can find both free and paid-for eBooks. Project Gutenberg, Google Books/Google Play Books/, ManyBooks, Scribd, and Free-Ebooks are just some examples. And of course, there’s Amazon as well.
What Else is Important in a Bibliophile’s Website?
Whether you like printed books, eBooks, or a pleasant mixture of them both, there are a few other things that you will probably want to consider when choosing a website for your bibliophilic needs.
If you’re frequently rushing back and forth between work and home, a mobile app can be important to you. This is true whether you use websites to order printed books and have them delivered to you or if you like to download eBooks to your phone.
For example, Amazon and Goodreads both allow you to order books and both have apps for Android and iOS. BookBoon, Book Riot, and Free-Ebooks do not, however, you can still look at these sites on your phone’s internet browser.
Alternatively, if you use sites to download eBooks, the main question you need to ask yourself is, are the eBooks I’m downloading compatible with my eReader/Kindle? Because obviously, compatibility with your device is the only way to ensure that you’ll actually be able to read your eBooks!
While many sites for book lovers feature all kinds of genres, there are still those that fit a specific niche. BookBoon, for example, is a site geared toward university students and offers free and paid-for educational eBooks, textbooks, and business books. Free-Ebooks, on the other hand, features many new and independent writers, so don’t expect to find the latest books from the New York Times Bestsellers List.
Book Riot and Literary Hub fill yet another niche; that of the serious book lover. These websites are dedicated to the discussion of the latest books, trends in reading and writing, and serious literary discussions.
Both Sides of the Story
While some people can only read printed books, and other people can only read books on their eReaders, the more common consumer that’s emerging is one that appreciates both. A consumer who falls in that liminal place between technology and nostalgia, who is equally comfortable with libraries and Kindles.
Because today, more and more people are realizing that just as printed books have their advantages and disadvantages, so do eBooks. And when you use both, you create more opportunities than ever to enjoy your one true love.