Dan Leitao/The Mirror

Today’s society has become borderline obsessive with buying the latest gadget before your best friend. Where it used to apply only to phones, computers and gaming systems, bookworms are now joining the race for gadget superiority. Kindles, iPads and Nooks are revolutionizing the reading experience.

Some people fear that with these new machines, the printed word will disappear completely and the charm of reading a real book will be completely lost to time. However, these new e-Readers are showing that this is far from the truth. They are not planning a massive coup of the book world. Although the books themselves cost less in e-format, e-Readers are far from cheap. Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color costs $249. Compare that to a sixteen-dollar paperback book, and most people will still opt for the paperback.

Some also think they are impractical and simply do not have the ability to function as well as a printed and bound book. Things like borrowing and taking notes will soon be a thing of the past.

However, e-books have technically been around since 1971 when Michael Hart with Project Guttenberg first started scanning books and putting them on a computer to reach the public for free. They have become such a success due to the efforts of one Oprah Winfrey. In 2007 she bought Amazon’s Kindle and endorsed it on her show. Since then, the Kindle has been the godfather of e-Readers, though there are several other competing models.

Oprah doesn’t lie. E-Readers are incredibly easy to use all from the comfort of your home. Bibliophiles who were kept from the bookstores a few weeks back during the massive snow storm did not have to miss out on a day at Borders. With a simple search and click, either on the device or a website, the newest release can be in their hands in under a minute.

Prices are also exponentially lower. A typical hardcover novel costs around twenty-six dollars. The same novel in e-format costs about twelve. Plus there are no shipping and handling charges. Kindle also offers a large selection of classic works of literature for free.

More and more students and academic institutions are turning to e-Readers as well. Kindles come with the ability to highlight passages, take notes and mark pages that are important.

Most college students will remember the sickening plunge their stomachs took when they saw the bill from the bookstore at the beginning of their first semester. Several publishers have now made their textbooks available in e-formats, which are considerably cheaper. English majors can particularly benefit since many of their books and novels are sold to the general populace anyway.

People who prefer libraries are not to be excluded. E-Readers that support the e-Pub files, like Barnes and Nobles’ Nook, can literally borrow books from a library. If your local library has the book you desire in e-Pub format, you can download it to your device for a period of two weeks. When your time is up, the book disappears from your e-Reader and becomes available for the next lucky soul.

People can also still lend books in their own collection to their friends. If you and your best friend both have the same device and you wish to read a book she has, you do not have to buy it yourself. With her permission of course, she can send that book to your e-Reader for a few weeks.

Does an e-Reader feel like reading a real book? Well, of course it doesn’t. There is nothing like holding a real book in your hands and smelling the pages as you turn them. However, there is a certain appeal to have the ability to carry up to 2,000 books with you at one time. It all but eliminates shelving problems. It’s like an iPod for books. And don’t worry, you can still scribble in the margins. You just have to type your scribbles.

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