Should I Purchase a Kindle e-reader? – A Pastor’s Perspective

About a year and a half ago, we moved from Ohio to Waverly, NY. A team of four men (now all dear friends) were gracious enough to come and move us to our new home and church family. The big joke during (and for months after) the move was the amount of books I had – from my estimates between 800-900 volumes. The jokes still haven’t stopped but I really don’t mind. I love to read and books are just part of my toolkit.

It was around the time of our move, however, that I realized I had a bit of a problem. From the beginning, my new office was full of books and there was no room to grow my book collection. So I came up with the idea of replacing old and unused books with newer and better books. This has proved to be an effective solution as my library today contains better quality content books, even though the quantity of books has platowed, and even decreased a little.

Now, let’s get to the Kindle.

I have always been a late adapter when it comes to technology. In terms of books, I envisioned myself using traditional hard copy books long after the e-book, e-reader revolution. However, to my surprise that has changed. It all started when my wife downloaded the kindle app for our computers several months ago. Since that time, we have accumulated dozens of good books for a very reasonable price, sometimes even for free. While it took a while for us to get used to this new reading medium, I could see it’s value, something early adaptors foresaw years ago. Then last month my wife and I finally decided to purchase Kindle e-readers and we have quite enjoyed our new devices.

There are many tools and functions of the Kindle, especially if you have the Kindle Fire version. I am sure there are people who barely use it for reading at all. However, my concern in this review is the Kindle as an e-reader. It’s benefits are many, but allow me to just name a few.

First off, the reader can store hundreds of books on one device. If you travel a lot, this will prove especially useful. Another benefit is the adjustable font size to meet your reading preferences. Last week a pastor friend of mine told me that using an e-reader has helped him in his bible reading, as he no longer strains to read the text. I would also add that the Kindle is easy to navigate is incredibly light. If you are like me and have some big tomes that are not easy to hold, this is especially nice. Lastly, if you find a good quote that you want to use in your teaching or preaching, it is easy to copy and paste, and much quicker than copying word for word. I have already taken advantage of this a few times.

I would still recommend getting a hard copy book if you know it’s going to be a reference book – one that you will consult again and again. I often enjoy marking up my books as I interact with and think through the books content. And while you can do that with an e-reader, I still find it easier with a hard copy book. I would also warn against over collecting. If you are used to buying $10-20 books, $5-10 books (or cheaper) can be tempting, but a book’s true value is in actually being read. As King Solomon reminds us, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It’s not how many books you have that matters, it’s the quality of books you have, and being able to master those books.

You probably already know there are several excellent e-readers on the market today. My intention is not to promote the Kindle so much as it is to recommend purchasing an e-reader in general. I expect that traditional, hard copy books will always be a part of my library, but I have now made the switch to regularly using an e-reader and I don’t regret it.

The End of Print?

This morning I read the following:

“Encyclopedia Britannica says it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia.

The Chicago-based company announced on Tuesday that the encyclopedia would not be available in book form for the first time in 244 years. The company will continue to publish digital versions.”

For many of you, this will not come as a surprise. The demise of print has been long forecasted and Britannica is just one more example of the dominance of the digital format. I, for one, am not too thrilled about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the benefits that come from living in a digital world, but I also love books – hardcopy books. I love the feel of books. I love marking up books. Sometimes I even love the smell of books. But the distribution of books has changed. Whether it’s a good change is still up for debate.

Recently, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a gift card to a bookstore. Rather than buy regular books and incur the shipping costs, Steph and I thought – why not get an e-book and save the shipping costs? So that’s what we did and now we each have books on our computers. I guess you might call me a “late adapter” when it comes to technology, but it’s hard not to see the benefits of using digital e-readers. For one, it’s nice not having to cart around and store more books. It’s surprisingly easy to navigate and can be more accessible to you. But if the end of the print world ever happens, it will be a sad day for me. And while it doesn’t seem like the publishing world is slowing down, it has changed dramatically over the last decade. Witness the closing of bookstore giant Borders last year.

What does the future hold for print? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you no matter how predominant and “reader-friendly” the e-readers become, I will always prefer the real thing to the digital version. Like anyone, I appreciate the benefits of digital technology, but if I had a copy of the same book on my computer and in print, you guessed it – I’m going to read the print version. You can call me old fashion – that’s just me.