Have you ever been so into a book that you couldn’t put it down? The need to know what happens next to the protagonist is overwhelming, and while you take it all in, your imagination goes wild. When you finally finish and put down the book, you realize your midterm assignment that’s due the next day hasn’t been started, you haven’t eaten for the last 18 hours, and you have 10 minutes to get to class. I had done this a few times throughout university. After almost failing a course, a friend suggested that I try listening to an audio book – that way I could still do the dishes, laundry and homework without having to put down the book. I thought he was crazy, that it wouldn’t be the same experience. Since then, 95 percent of books I “read” are audio books. Audio books give me the freedom to enjoy an unabridged version of a book where ever I go. So the more I think about print books, the less appealing they become.

Audio books give the reader the experience of a story teller. It brings us back to when we were young, sitting in class with a teacher or a librarian telling us an epic tale of dungeons and dragons, witches and wizards, or little pigs that talk to spiders. Plus, there is no better way of calming down those kids you are forced to babysit than putting on an audio book. But audio-books are no real threat to printed books. That's where e-books come in.

Being born in the age of technology, I am predisposed to believe that technology is the future and e-readers (or e-books) are as much a part of it as cellphones and mp3's. That's not to say books will become obsolete, but physical books may go the way of the vinyl record; they'll gain niche appeal. With the growing popularity of the e-readers like the Kindle and the Ipad, the need to have stacks of books on shelves is becoming a less desirable thought. With the ability to keep hundreds of thousands of books on a single hard-drive, why crowd rooms with all those books? This claim is not unwarranted; according to Amazon, the Kindle (a popular e-reader) was the most gifted item in their history, selling more than physical books. Apple’s Ipad has sold an estimated 120,000 pre-orders already. Some people argue the fact that the price outweighs the usefulness. With an initial cost of around two hundred to three hundred dollars it does make for a pricy device. But I would pay the hefty fee in exchange for all the extra space I would gain in my small living space.

Convenience, space, and cost are just a few of the things that make me think that this level of technology is the future of print books. But it seems that stories are not the only things being turned into e-books. Some college and universities are starting to convert text books into e-books. This conversion of text books to e-reader could really make the market switch for students. The instant appeal for students is less text books for them to carry around school, leading to less back problems and better organization. But will teachers let this catch on? Currently, there are some teachers who do not like it when a student has a laptop in class. What will these teachers say when the whole class brings their e-books?

When you weigh the pros and cons, technology is just the way to go. Convenience, more space, and less back problems – how could anyone say no to that? So when it comes to reading, I choose to save a tree and get and listen to my audio books.

// Ben Drake

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