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E-book Drawbacks

Changing Technologies- The formats and file types that e-books are stored and distributed in change over time, for instance from advances in technology or the introduction of new proprietary formats. While printed books remain readable for many years, e-books may need to be copied to a new carrier over time. PDF and epub are growing standards, but are not universal.

Availability of Works- Not all books are available as e-books.


Aesthetic Appeal- Paper books can be bought and wrapped for a present and a library of books can provide visual appeal, while the digital nature of e-books makes them non-visible or tangible. E-books cannot provide the physical feel of the cover, paper, and binding of the original printed work.

Power and Shelf Life- A book will never turn off or be unusable. The shelf life of a printed book exceeds that of an e-book reader, as over time the reader's battery will drain and require recharging. Additionally, "As in the case of microfilm, there is no guarantee that [electronic] copies will last. Bits become degraded over time. Documents may get lost in cyberspace...Hardware and software become extinct at a distressing rate." [15]


Durability- E-book readers are more susceptible to damage from being dropped or hit than a print book. Due to faults in hardware or software, e-book readers may malfunction and data loss can occur. As with any piece of technology, the reader must be protected from the elements (such as extreme cold, heat, water, etc.), while print books are not susceptible to damage from electromagnetic pulses, surges, impacts, or extreme temperates.


Artistry and Author's Vision- An author who publishes a book often puts more into the work than simply the words on the pages. E-books may cause people "to do the grazing and quick reading that screens enable, rather than be by themselves with the author's ideas." [16]. They may use the e-books simply for reference purposes rather than reading for pleasure and leisure.[17]


Costs- The cost of an e-book reader far exceeds that of a single book, and e-books often cost the same as their print versions. Due to the high cost of the initial investment in some form of e-reader, e-books are cost prohibitive to much of the world's population. Furthermore, there is no used e-book market, so consumers will neither be able to recoup some of their costs by selling an unwanted title they have finished, nor will they be able to buy used copies at significant discounts, as they can now easily do with printed books through Amazon's marketplace and other online retailers.


Security- Because of the high-tech appeal of the e-reader, they are a greater target for theft than an individual print book. Along with the theft of the physical device, any e-books it contains also become stolen. E-books purchased from vendors like Amazon or Barnes & are stored "in the cloud" on servers and "digital lockers" and have the benefit of being easily retrieved if an e-reading device is lost. Not all e-booksellers are cloud based; if an e-book is stolen, accidentally lost, or deleted, in the absence of a backup it may have to be repurchased.


Limitations of Readers- The screen resolutions of reading devices are currently lower than actual printed materials.[18] Because of proprietary formats or lack of file support, formatted e-books may be unusable on certain readers. Additionally, the reader's interaction with the reader may cause discomfort, for example glare on the screen or difficulty holding the device.


Digital Rights Management and Piracy- Due to digital rights management, customers typically cannot resell or loan their e-books to other readers.[19] However, some Barnes & Noble e-books are lendable for two weeks via their 'LendMe' technology.[20] Additionally, the potential for piracy of e-books may make publishers and authors reluctant to distribute digitally.[21]


Environmental Concerns- E-book readers require various toxic substances to produce, are non-biodegradable, and the disposal of their batteries in particular raises environmental concerns. As technologies rapidly change and old devices become obsolete, there will be larger amounts of toxic wastes that are not easily biodegradable like paper.


Privacy Concerns - E books and software can easily track data, times, usage, pages, and details about what one is reading and how often. Similar to this is the growing amount of data available through Google search engines, Facebook, and through data mining. For the first time in history it is now far more easy to track and record what specific people might be reading. The notions of privacy, private writing, solitude, and personal reading are changing.


Picture Books - Books with large pictures (such as children's books) or diagrams are more inconvenient for viewing and reading.


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