Since the internet started to make a real impact on people’s everyday lives back in the 1990s, there has been anxiety about whether this spells the end for the printed word. Whilst we are more than certain that physical books and other printed material will be around to enjoy for many, many years yet, we also believe that readers shouldn’t be afraid to embrace this new opportunity.
Technology has come on in leaps and bounds since the first e-readers were released, and virtual stores that sell e-books, audiobooks and more are now better stocked than ever before. The internet can be a friend to the humble book and bookshop, rather than an enemy, and so we’ve put together a guide on the best online resources out there for avid readers.
First, a Word on Hobbies in General
The proof of the potential success of this venture lies in other popular hobbies and pastimes which have also successfully made the leap into the online world, proving that it can be beneficial to audiences. Television companies now focus far more closely on their offerings for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus than they do on terrestrial TV, and the ever-growing success of podcasts proves that spoken media has found a firm place on the internet. Perhaps one of the most successful transfers has been that of the gaming industry; popular games ranging from FPS titles like Counter-Strike to classic table games like blackjack, roulette and slots are played by millions of people every day, on the go and at home. Platforms such as Steam, PokerStarsCasino and the Epic Games Store host enough different games to keep keen players occupied for hours at a time, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Chances are, you already enjoy one of these other online pastimes, so why not give the virtual book world a try too?
Whether you use an e-reader already or are sticking to your phone, laptop or tablet (for now), there are plenty of online resources available for e-books. Project Gutenberg is perhaps the most famous free library; with over 60 000 books currently available, it is a world class provider to readers across the globe of classics, contemporary works and important texts. You can also use apps like OverDrive to access your local library service’s wealth of e-books, audiobooks and other online resources. If you’re a paying customer, then virtual e-book providers like the Kindle Store, Google Play and Apple Books have all the latest titles which you can download straight to your device. This means that you can read them instantly on publication date if you really want to!
If you’re the kind of person who likes to categorise and record your reading habits, then the internet is about to become your new best friend. Platforms like GoodReads, Bookly and Libib allow you to keep a virtual record of every book you own, each book you’ve read, your reviews of said books and recommendation lists for anybody else who shares your taste. Many people already keep book journals with pen and paper, but the added benefits of a virtual bookshelf range from greater accessibility options, to socialising with other readers, to receiving exclusive content from your favourite authors. Go on – you know you want to show your shelves off!
Speaking of socialising, there is a thriving readers community on the internet which regularly breaks down barriers both geographical and ideological. Websites such as LitLovers, Electric Lit and Book Riot allow readers to get in touch with each other via book clubs, essays, reviews, reading lists, interviews, podcasts, recommendation lists, quizzes and much, much more. A you’re craving some literary interaction in your life then it’s certainly worth investing some time into these welcoming, diverse and knowledgeable communities. One of the greatest perks is coming across titles, genres and authors that you never would have discovered on your own but that, through conversation, you find yourself falling in love with.
If you’re determined to stick to the printed page, then do not fear – nobody wants to force you into buying an e-reader. However, the internet can still be utilised to keep your ‘to read’ pile stocked up so that you always have a new title on the go. Websites like BookMooch, Title Trader and SwitchPlanet enable readers to swap books between themselves. This is the perfect way to maintain your habit in a sustainable manner, and it connects you with other bookworms around the world. Simply type in the books you have available to give away, then wait until somebody lets you know they want a title. You can then mail your books to the intended recipients, and receive points for the privilege. These points can be ‘spent’ on books for yourself.