As an avid reader, there is nothing I like more than the arrival of a new book. Whether it is the latest edition from a favorite author or an experiment with someone new, I can hardly wait to shuffle through the paper pages that contain guaranteed entertainment and breathe in that new-book smell I have come to know so well. The minute I open to chapter one I know a new adventure is about to begin.
New technology allows us to give up paper books and replace our reading experience with an electronic device. In this case, there are no pages to turn as we navigate the story. A click on a keyboard propels us forward. This new way of doing things threatens a bit of the romance of reading. No longer will we be able to proudly display our passions and interests in bookcases around our home since every book is now stored or accessible on a single device.
Historically, e-books have been a less than perfect fit for senior audiences. Non-intuitive interfaces were an obstacle many people chose to avoid rather than attempt to deal with. Tiny text strained eyes and caused more headaches than happy moments. Carrying around a laptop or similar device to read a book was not nearly as convenient as sticking a paperback into a purse or pocket. And, of course, should you forget your paper book and leave it behind somewhere the financial impact was minor.
However, new e-book options offer much more ease of use and a more engaging and interactive reading experience. Many of the initial bothersome issues like improper backlighting and cumbersome navigation have been addressed. Uploading and accessing titles of our choice is a breeze. Plus, there is a whole category of books published electronically that will never make it into paper format, which means more to read. Here's why you should consider making e-books a part of your retirement years:
Less to carry. You can carry your entire collection of books with you wherever you go. If your mood changes and you feel like reading a different genre, you can quickly scan your options, load the title, and begin reading the book of your choice. Never again will you be stuck reading a so-so book just because that is all you packed.
Free samples. E-books often let you read a sample of the book before you buy it. Typically a chapter or more is available for free. The idea is that once you are hooked by the teaser you will be ready to buy the book to read the entire story. This process works well for readers and publishers alike.
A multimedia experience. The reading experience can be greatly enhanced with the ability to include links to videos and additional information. If you are reading about Paris, you could click on a street level view of the Seine River or view the Eiffel Tower from atop Notre Dame Cathedral all without leaving your seat. Should you be interested in a more in depth discussion of the author, a link may guide you to a biography or related articles. This additional information upon request can provide a richer and more engaging reading experience.
Large print. You can adjust the font to a size that is easier for you to read. Different publications come in different fonts and styles, so this flexibility enables you to make adjustments and view in a format best suited for your particular taste.
High contrast. You can adjust the background light of the e-book to suit your reading environment, whether you are on a sunny beach or in a dimly lit room. This is an important improvement for people who like to read while sunbathing by the pool or on the beach.
Lower costs. E-books are typically cheaper than their paper equivalent, so you can get more for your money.
I would not want to be forced to do without the tangible real-book experience I have grown up with. But I also recognize the many advantages of reading books electronically. There's enough of a difference that it's worth making both paper and e-books part of your retirement years.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.
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