My wife got me my first Kindle about a year after it first came out; I replaced it about a year or so ago with a newer version, the Kindle Paperwhite. I also have the Kindle apps on my computers (both my desktop and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3) and on my cellphone (Samsung Galaxy 5). My wife has a Kindle Fire, my oldest daughter has a Kindle Fire HDX, and also has the app on her Samsung Galaxy Note 4; my middle daughter has her own Kindle Paperwhite and youngest daughter uses the Kindle app on her Apple iPad mini.

Our house is filled with traditional books: my home office is lined floor to ceiling, on all four walls, with bookcases crammed with books. One entire wall of the living room, floor to ceiling is also a bookcase, also crammed with books. We easily have more than 3000 volumes in my house; the shelves are overflowing.

Since getting the Kindle, I don’t buy as many traditional books; instead, I prefer to get the ebooks. The same can be said of newspapers and magazines. If there is an electronic version available, that’s what I choose. It’s very simple and very practicle: ebooks don’t take up shelf space I don’t have, and magazines and newspapers, if they are e-versions, don’t pile up or need to be disposed of or stored.

Some people tell me that the like the feel of books, their smell. I like such things too. However, when I’m reading, I’m not thinking about how a book looks or smells or feels. I’m reading: I’m lost in the story, lost in the narrative, lost in gaining the information—depending on what I’m reading, whether fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. When I’m reading, I don’t care what the words are stored on: paper, e-ink, or phosphors.

I’m a theologian and a Bible scholar. I’ve been reading the Bible through, cover to cover, on an annual basis since I was 16. I use a program on my computer now, specifically Logos Bible Works (version 6, now); I wouldn’t want to use the Bible any other way. I can access and study it more exhaustively and faster using a computer than I ever could doing it with traditional books. The program includes reference materials: multiple translations, the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts, commentaries, dictionaries, and the like so that I can quickly and easily study. I spend a fraction of the time I otherwise would just looking things up and have more time now for the actual reading and studying. And instead of having to write out a text when I want to quote it I can now just cut and paste it. Writing the books I have on the Bible went much quicker just because of being able to cut and past passage instead of having to type them all out by hand.

So, yes, ebooks are “green”: they don’t use dead trees, no trees gave up their lives for them. But what matters to me is the ease and time savings, the convenience and the storage savings—and beyond that, even the books themselves are cheaper: classic texts, works that are now in the public domain, are free! They cost nothing: that beats even the cost of books in a used book store. And newer books are inevitably cheaper than they would be even as paperbacks, let alone the hard cover editions. And rather than making a trip to a library or book store and then maybe having to wait for them to order what I want, I can get anything instantly, withing 60 seconds, on my Kindle. No physical bookstore has the inventory that Amazon has. I’m always disappointed when I discover that a book is not available in an e-version.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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