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Reading on the go

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Reading on the go

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Books are gradually moving away from the traditional print form to computers changing the lifestyle of modern day readers write FUNKE OSAE-BROWN and OBINNA EMELIKE
Chiedu Uzor is an avid reader but he has a little challenge. The tight schedule of his new job does not give him time to read. “How much I long for those quiet days when I stay in bed alone with my eyes buried in classics,” he says enthusiastically. Uzor later finds a lasting solution for his desire in his laptop and iPad when a friend introduced him to a website where he can purchase e-books by simply downloading them on his laptop. Ever since, Uzor has become a high flying executive that needs not worry about how to improve. All he simply do is read his favourite books on his iPad.
In this 21st  Century, e-book, a book form that comes in electronic format is gradually taking over from traditional printed books as technologists are discovering new and better ways to improve human lives. These days, blue chip executives now download books on their computers, iPads, mobile phones that they read on the screen.
With today’s technology people can read e-books anywhere, on the bus, train, airplane and while standing in line.  E-books are more safely stored and carried from one place to another, than ordinary books. They also withstand time more than books and they allow readers to access additional information on a particular subject. They take up less space in the house or office and people practically don’t need any space to store them. There is no need to have a library or a room for them. Hundreds and thousands of e-books can be stored on the computer. Ebooks are portable. You can carry a whole library of hundreds of books with you, on CD, in a laptop, notebook or any ebook reader, without worrying about their weight. Nowadays one can find ebooks about every possible subject, fiction and nonfiction, free and not free.
E-books like the traditional print form also have numbered pages, table of contents, pictures and graphics and can be opened exactly like a printed book. “E-books present many benefits and advantages,” explains Emmanuel Imevbore, an executive coach and author. “It is very simple and easy to purchased and downloaded through the Internet. It is exactly like purchasing any other product. The only difference is that after payment you will either be directed to a download page or receive the download link in an email. All you have to do is click on the link and the e-book will automatically download to the computer.”
It is the user-friendly nature of the computer that makes e-book easy to access for most executives who don’t have the luxury of time to sit in a corner to read. Most times, they read while in their cars or while waiting before the start of a meeting.  After download, they don’t have to be connected to the Internet in order to read the e-book. They actually read while offline.
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 “The two formats are very similar,” adds Imevbore. They allow the reader to do the most important thing, read a book. For me, what is important is the text and not the medium. Reading a book on tablets may be posh but that does not necessarily enhance the reader’s understanding of the subject matter. The difference is just in the experience.”
For Gboyega Alaka, an executive, the easy access to e-books by a click of the button endears him to the idea of reading on the go. “The books  are delivered almost instantaneously,” he says, “and I don’t have to order through a courier. I can purchase, download and start reading them within minutes, without leaving my chair or the comfort of my office or home. I also saves me the stress of going to a bookstore and searching through the shelves for a particular title.”
In addition, the environmental friendly nature of e-books makes it a choice for environmental activists. “There are no trees required to manufacture paper for the pages of e-books,” observes Ope Adelowo, an environmentalist. “E-books should really be encourage even in schools. Schools should begin to embrace technology and make computers available for their students to use during classes.”
Adelowo adds that when a reader needs certain information, he can get it immediately, by downloading an e-book. And it allows for searches to be done with the book. “You can easily search for any information in an e-book, instead of turning page after page. In addition, e-book can be interactive and contain audio, video and animations, which can enhance the message that the author is trying to convey. I have some audio books which I listen to while driving to work.”
On the business side, non-fiction e-books, disseminate knowledge not pages, which means that it is not correct to evaluate the price of an e-book according to the number of its pages. The price are determined by the information it contains, its usefulness and relevancy, and on how much it gives the reader in terms of practical knowledge, inspiration, motivation, tips and advice, and also by the uniqueness of the information it contains.
But the worry really may for the future of publishing firms who are struggling to stay in business due to poor reading culture in the country. The advent of e-books some critics say may just be the final nail on the coffin for them.
“My concern is for the business of publishing,” says Tola Odugbemi, a reader. “I don’t know how they will survive. Already a large share of the market has gone to e-books as people spend more time browsing the internet than they spend reading printed books. It may not be long before publishing firms also go ‘e-.”
Yet some critics are of the opinion that traditional printed books will still be in existence regardless of e-books as there is a segment of the market that still finds it appealing. “I enjoy reading books in printed form,” says Funmi Adeleke, an avid reader. “I love to make notes on them and I don’t thing I can do that with an e-book. Even if I can, the feel of the book and the odour of the print that hits my nostrils when I am reading is part of the reading experience for me. I love to feel and smell what I read.”
Meanwhile, some parents are already showing concern about the future of their children as most children spend more time on computers under the pretence of reading books online. It’s may sound ridiculous for some parents that their children can actually read their text books online. “In your days the trend was the conventional text books, today we are reading them in soft copies”, an anonymous student once told his father. “But it was until he says the e-Book is cheap that his explanations made sense to the father.
Truly, reading has gone trendier and stylish nowadays with e-book and e-library packaging many books into soft copies that are readable on computer, cellphones, iPads and among other communication /electronic devices.
Most universities are now tuning their conventional libraries to e-libraries where students can access books online even when the school is not in session.  At University of Lagos, the MTN sponsored e-library has become a convergence point for research, reading and networking as most students visit to access one of the over 100,000 eBooks in the library. 
But while the eBook technology is trendy, the middle-aged father expresses his reservation that the eBook may introduce further downward plunge of the already dying reading culture especially among students in Nigeria today.  “In our days, reading is hard work, but it seems pleasurable with computer nowadays, yet students fail exams”, he queries. 
The man thinks of how bulky textbooks such as Modern Biology and Chemistry that are over 300 pages will be accessible, asks what happens when there is no electricity to power the computer, and when they are stolen or damaged.
But supporters of the new trend argue that with eBook, information, data and documents are better saved for reference and future use, they are very much accessible, cost less to acquire and can be read anytime and anywhere.   Ferdinand Aigbe, an IT engineer and supporter of the trend, explains that eBook gives a work permanent security with online presence, reduces risks such as damage by fire, water or harsh weather. “All you need do is organise and upload your hard copy books online, give marketing right to online shops that will sell and make returns to you and check to update them periodically”.
At first, most publishers had problem allowing books online, but many according to Ofulue Aniekwe, a publisher, are now getting more published online as today’s readers are more attuned to eBooks than the conventional books.  But the reality on ground, according to the publisher is that publishing houses will soon start winding up when authors publish online.
“Whatever will make people read is what most publishers are after because money will only come to the author and publishing house when the works are bought and read by the public. But how the money comes in the online thing is one area most of us need clearance on”, the publisher says.
Besides, most authors and publishers envisage rampant cases of infringements on copyright with the e-book. Some argue that it was difficult dealing with copyright violators in the conventional book and now that it is online, it might be even more difficult catching culprits who are supposedly online.
But no matter how trendy and accessible e-book and library will become in the nearest future, Aniekwe notes that a good number of people will still pick the hard copy especially the older readers because of the appeal and reading culture they sustained over the years with the conventional books.

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