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Friday March 30, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
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SO, on which side do you weigh in on the whole print vs e-book debate? With more and more authors making their work available digitally, this is becoming an intriguing question indeed.
When we wrote two years ago about the e-book trend finally heating up in Malaysia, we spoke to a local bookstore chain that had brought in the country’s first e-book reader, the Hanlin: “MPH Bookstores, a company with roots going back more than a century, is stepping into the digital book age by being the first Malaysian bookseller to sell an e-book reader in its stores.” (Local pioneer, Insight, StarMag, Jan 24, 2010)
The company had already gone online in 2000 with mphonline.com, offering free downloads of public-domain books (books whose copyright has expired and are therefore available free to the public) at first, and then aiming to sell 200,000 current e-books at the time we wrote the article, in 2010.
Since then, mphonline.com has responded to demand – from the tech savvy and the younger generation, mostly – and has expanded is selection of e-books to include bestsellers and hot-new titles.
And, of course, the availability of e-books must be complemented by e-readers. While Malaysians still cannot (officially) buy a Kindle, Amazon.com’s popular e-reader, mphonline.com offers other brands, such as the iRiver Story and Benq nReader, among others. According to a press release, you can choose from affordable models up to premium ones.
Size wise, the readers are mostly smaller than a sheet of A4-sized paper, and they are lighter than notebooks, thus making them easily portable. This also translates to a better fit in the palm of the hand while reading, making the e-readers comfortable to hold for long periods.
Furthermore, the e-ink technology used in e-readers now gets rid of the backlight glare that makes reading text on a computer screen painful after a while; so less eye strain, coupled with longer battery life nowadays, allows enjoyably long hours of (e-)reading pleasure.
Bibliophiles who love traditional print books might also be moved to consider sharing some of their love with the digital version if they think about this: you don’t have to cut down a tree to produce an e-book.
Of course, as we said in our 2010 article, producing e-readers is not yet a very green process. But if e-books are truly embraced in the future, felling millions of trees to produce books could become a practice of the past. Now there’s a thought worth considering.
MPH Bookstores is hoping you will do exactly that come Earth Hour tomorrow, when people around the world try to do their bit to save the environment. Turn to page 6 of Star2 On Saturday for an idea of what the bookstore is offering.
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