E-readers and e-books may have seemed like a fad, but clearly they are not going anywhere. There are a number of styles and types to pick from; the Nook and Kindle each have various versions and options, for example, based on your budget and your needs. Debate rages about which is the best e-reader, but this is about the advantages and disadvantages of an e-reader regardless of the one you buy.
For starters, we will look at the benefits of e-readers. Do you travel a lot? If so, an e-reader is almost a necessity. Gone are the days of lugging around a stack of books for reading on the train or plane; now, one small tablet can provide you with a veritable library. The light weight and range of options make an e-reader a commuter or traveler's best friend.
In addition, e-readers allow you to clean up space in your home. Those who live in small spaces know how valuable additional floor and wall space can be and now you can avoid tripping over books. E-readers keep you organized, while also providing you the distinct advantage of having all the reading material you desire in your home.
Another advantage is that e-readers offer flexibility. Ever been somewhere with a book and you reach a midpoint and suddenly want something different? Maybe you've been reading a lot of romance and now you feel like you would prefer a mystery. This is also helpful with keeping your bedside table less cluttered. E-readers give a reader the means to be in the middle of several things at once, while keeping each available for when the reader wants it.
Finally, a great advantage of e-readers is that, for some people at least, you can read faster. Not only is swiping simply faster than flipping a page (split seconds, but they add up over the course of a novel, especially one like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but e-readers also can motivate readers to read just a bit more. When you are holding a physical book, sometimes you see that you have only made a small dent and it is easier to be distracted; with an e-reader, you are given a percentage and natural human instinct tends to say, "Well, I am at 8%. I might as well read to 10%." Suddenly, 10% becomes 20% and before you know it, you have flown through the book.
On the other hand, e-readers are not perfect. First of all, books are almost indestructible but technology breaks. You must be far more careful with an e-reader than with a book. A book can be run over by a car and still be read; too much pressure on an e-reader leads to a shattered screen and now you're stuck.
Next, e-readers need to be charged. It is great to be able to read while traveling but it is less great to be in the middle of an exciting scene and have the e-reader turn off. A book does not turn itself off ever. A book can be ignored for months on end and you will never need to plug it in before reading it.
There is also the fact that e-readers have limits. Those that are backlit can be hard to read on sunny days outside. E-ink is just like a book but that also means you cannot read it if it is dark. Books also have limitations as well, but knowing where you read the most can help you avoid this problem.
Finally, for many readers, nothing can ever truly replace a book. The smell of a book, the feel of a book, and the experience of a book will never be digitized. So much work is put into book covers, but that work is minimized on a screen. Cracking the spine of a brand new book is a pleasure that no technology can give.
So, are e-readers worth it? Absolutely. For most readers, they have significant advantages. Will they do away with print books? Doubtful. It is likely that the people who use their e-readers frequently still have a stack of books somewhere. Many people will still buy favorites just because they like having them around.