Amazon Kindle ignites book controversy, religates paper

"Let’s be clear: I love books. I wouldn’t be an English major if I didn’t.

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"More importantly, I love reading books. The ink, the paper, the turning of pages. To me, the physical act of reading is just as important as the content being read. The fact that Stephen King wrote "Under the Dome" is awesome. However I can’t be bothered to read it in a format other than the gargantuan, concussion-inducing hardcover. My copies of "The Dresden Files" novels carry just as many stories about me reading them as they do about Harry Dresden fighting the supernatural. And as for the "Harry Potter" series? I’ve gone back to reread them so many times over the years that they’re nearly falling apart.

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"Sadly, it seems the opportunity to experience those memories and sensations is coming to an end. With the so-called "eBook revolution" occurring over the past few years, devices like the iPad and Kindle are stamping out the joys of holding a physical copy. Instead they favor the ability to carry a large amount of content in as small a capacity as possible. The important aspect, eBook supporters argue, is that eBooks are environmentally friendly, and that they’re cheaper than physical copies (the hardcover edition of "Under the Dome" sells at around $35; Amazon sells a Kindle version for $9.99). Based on the sales numbers of both the iPad and the Kindle, it seems the public agrees.

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"As a result, publishers have abandoned mass market paperbacks in favor of the eBook and print on demand markets.

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"Dorchester Publishing, a well-known publisher of popular fiction, announced in August that the company’s plan to shift to an eBook-only marketing strategy. This has caused something of an uproar among its published authors. Brian Keene (author of such bestselling horror novels as "The Rising," "Castaways," and "Terminal") was so disgusted with this sudden change that he cut his ties with the publisher almost immediately. In an Aug. 12 blog post, Keene announced his transition to self-publishing, stating that while he normally wouldn’t dare touch the self-publishing market, he had no choice but to make the switch. The author’s next four novels are slated to be "experiments" in self-publishing.

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"I couldn’t agree more with what Keene and his fellow authors are doing. One of the problems associated with digital publishing is the exclusion of potential readers who refuse to pay the $200 or more buy-in for an eBook reader. Also, with the success of the Amazon Kindle, the majority of book sales are coming from Amazon.com, causing brick and mortar locations such as Barnes and Noble (as well as local, non-corporate booksellers) to take a serious hit in sales. While it’s a bit too soon to count chain bookstores out just yet, there still remains the ever-growing possibility that all bookstores will switch to a digital-only format sometime in the future.

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"While I understand the idea of conserving paper by switching to eBook readers, I can’t help but feel that some of the fun is being drained out of reading these days. My parents used to tell me to "get away from those rotten video games and read." Books don’t require a person to have an expensive electronic device to be enjoyed. Sadly, it seems in the near future their words will outdated.