Just Read It: eBooks

by Lorien E. Menhennett

I will admit. I love the feel of paper, of a tangible book in my hands. Flipping the pages, scribbling notes in the margin, highlighting and underlining … it’s a great sensation. After all, I was a Journalism major, with a focus in News Editorial, and I wrote for newspapers, magazines, and textbooks for years.

But. I must say, I am totally into the eReader thing these days. So many books are available in electronic format, and it makes them incredibly portable. Not to mention searchable, in a way regular books are not. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think “real” books are going the way of the dinosaur. I believe – and hope – that there will always be a market for them.

ereaderThere are, however, a lot of positives about eBooks. Besides the portability and searchability features, there is the cost factor. I’ve heard that some eBooks are more expensive than the hard copy, but my experience has been the other way around – that the electronic versions tend to be cheaper, on the whole. (I got an incredible version of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species for $2.99.) And some are even free. I recently discovered, via a dear friend, that you can “check out” electronic books, by downloading them, from your local library. Yes, for free. The selection is somewhat limited, but not bad, considering the price. You just enter your library card number and password, click on the title, and if no one else has it checked out – just like a regular book, only one person can have a title checked out at a time – the book goes directly to your Kindle app. Pretty cool. I’m glad to see libraries are keeping up with the times.

You can always buy electronic books, of course; iBooks (Apple’s digital “bookstore”) and Amazon.com are the go-to places these days, it seems. One thing I really like about Amazon’s Kindle books is that you can send a free sample to your device (which includes my iPad) to test out the book before you buy it – just like if you were to go to a bookstore and read the first few pages. Here are a few Kindle titles I’ve downloaded to sample:

  • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  • Genetic Medicine: A Logic of Disease by Barton Childs, MD
  • On the Sparkling Nature of Human Origins by Talessian El-Wikosian
  • Watson & DNA by Victor McElheny
  • Genetic Twists of Fate by Stanley Fields and Mark Johnston
  • Inside the Human Genome by John C. Avise

Of course, reading even samples of books requires that you have time … which, in my life right now, is in short supply. But I hope to check out some of these titles, at least. Who knows what I’ll learn?