The Future of Reading
by David Carus
The one constant love of my life has always been reading. As a kid I’d leave the library with a huge stack of books almost as tall as I was and race to finish them all before I had to take them back. When I got a little older I was through the roof when I discovered I could buy paperbacks for $0.25 at the local Goodwill and started amassing my own library. It was reading books that empowered me and it was always my most successful action in life to get where I wanted to go. So you can imagine my excitement when I recently woke up and realized where technology has taken books and what reading them looks like moving towards the future.
The idea of electronic books (ebooks) is nothing new. They’ve been around for a few years, but today it is easier than ever to read them and that is changing everything. I remember my first ebooks were internet marketing related and I could only read them on my computer so they’d go unread. Who wants to read a book on their computer screen? It’s not a comfortable experience. But then things changed when smart phones and mobile devices hit the scene. Now you could read an ebook anywhere, just like real books! When the first iPad came out I couldn’t wait to start reading ebooks on it. I laid down on my bed with my iPad, ready to be swept away to the future, but it wasn’t what I expected. The ebooks cost nearly as much as regular books and after awhile my hands started cramping up because that first generation iPad was pretty heavy. So I gave up using my iPad for reading ebooks and used it instead for watching Netflix, checking email or writing notes.
A couple of years later I couldn’t help but notice some of my author friends were publishing ebooks using Amazon. They’d send a message asking me to download their ebook and many times they were free. I didn’t know how I would read them but I clicked the purchase button on my phone. I’d always planned to be a published author myself so I became more interested in ebooks the more I saw them mentioned across the internet. Amazon Kindle kept popping up and so did Nook. I found out I could download a free Amazon Kindle app on my phone and read those ebooks I’d purchased. Having a toddler is pretty challenging and in recent years I’d found it harder to read as much as I wanted but suddenly with that app on my phone I could get through tons of reading quickly and easily anytime I had a spare couple of minutes. I always had my phone with me so I could read anywhere at anytime. It was life changing.
I started to read more than I’d ever been able to read before. It was because I didn’t have to carry around physical books, prop them open or worry about losing my place. Reading ebooks had some big advantages. You could carry hundreds of books weightlessly in your pocket. You could jump from one book to another and your place in each of them would always automatically be kept. I used to hate reading books with difficult vocabulary because I’d need to have a dictionary close by to look up words. When you read an ebook all you have to do is press your finger over a word and the dictionary definition pops up! You can even make notes and highlight sections of the text. You can make the font bigger. When you’re reading in bed at night you don’t need a special reading light because your mobile device is already lit, and you can adjust the brightness!
I was loving the experience of reading ebooks so much that I bought a Kindle. My iPad had cost $500 but I got my Kindle Fire HD for $120. It was the perfect size, built for reading ebooks and the store was affordable and easy to use. It didn’t take me long to see that reading books on a device like a Kindle was a huge leap into the future. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel the need to buy physical books. Why would I when books were easier to store and faster to read for me digitally? I understand people will always want to read physical books and some couldn’t ever imagine themselves reading books electronically. I hear it all the time. People say, “I just like the feel of an actual book.” I know that feeling all too well. Books are awesome! With that said though, I think there are a lot of people that might view ebooks the way I used to view them: as unwieldy, sub-par and less accessible. For anyone that hasn’t tried reading them on a mobile device like a Kindle, a Nook or one of the smaller iPads out now, give it a try. I think you’ll be blown away like I was.
I’ve been so excited about digital publishing that it’s made me dust off my old manuscripts so my books can be part of this revolution. It’s still early in it, so if you’re an author you should get moving too. There will be those that hold on tight to hardcovers and paperbacks but as more people discover ebooks they will only continue to grow in popularity. It will become the primary way people read. There will always be physical books just like there will always be vinyl records but they will become more rare, reserved for those books we want for our special collection. I can’t imagine letting go of all my physical books but I know for the most part, I’ll be buying ebooks from here on out. I can access and read them faster. What’s more important? The books themselves or the knowledge gained from reading them? The world is about to get even smarter.
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I'm David Carus. From overcoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country and graduating from one of the most prestigious colleges in America to leading an educational movement as a teacher and running for Congress at the age of 25, I decided the best hope our world has is through art.