What I Miss from Paper and What I Want from Ebooks

9/30/2011 12:00:00 AM

I’ve been reading entirely with ebooks for about nine months without touching paper. Ebooks are great . . . but there are things I miss from paper books, and things that I still want from ebooks that have yet to come to fruition.

Here’s what I miss about paper books:

■ The smell of books.
■ The feel, the weight of books.
■ Being able to tell how far along I am in a book. This is extremely hard to do—at least for me—when I see a percentage at the bottom of the screen of my progress.
■ When I read my ebook in public, no one has any idea of what I’m reading. Gone are the days when another reader comes up to me in a café because he/she has seen the book I’m reading and wants to connect over that book.
■ Lending books, while “possible” requires planning, compatible operating systems, and timeconstraints.
■ My bookshelf seems to have suffered an untimely death, with no new books coming in to accompany or replace the old books. I’ve got more space in the house, for sure, but gone are the days when a friend or my wife or my daughter can peruse my library and find something of interest that is new.

Now for a list of things that I still expect from ebooks:

■ Much more social networking. I can see how many people have highlighted certain passages from the Kindle books that I’m reading, but where is the connection part with this shared knowledge?
■ Why can’t I have the “people” experience when purchasing books? “Face-to-face” technology could make personal interaction possible. For example, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the option of interacting with other Amazon readers/shoppers with similar reading interests?
■ Ebooks need to mirror the experience of the Web in the sense that I can “link out” to other books or experiences from within the book. Ebooks are definitely moving in this direction, but truly seamless and integrated experiences with other media are still in the process of being realized.
■ And, finally, where is the “bonus-disc” material with ebooks? Just as DVDs are being issued with out-takes, interviews, extended/alternate versions, etc., ebooks could easily be complemented with extras.

The possibilities and the identities of ebooks are still being realized and I doubt we’re even close to understanding their full potential.

What will you miss from paper books as ebooks become more dominant? Leave your comment on Bob’s post: http://tinyurl.com/3ktr8aq

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