Friday, May 11, 2012

To E-Read or Not to E-Read? What a Question

I've been thinking about this for a few months.  Should I join the e-reader movement?  Should I ditch my spare room full of dusty (well, some of them) books - some of which are over 100 years old - and buy a Nook or a Kindle?

This is not as easy a decision as you might think.

I love books, meaning physical books.   I love how they look.  I love how they smell (usually). I love their portability.  You can take a book and read it on the beach.  In the backyard.  In a bubble bath.  On a train.   Anywhere except in the rain. (why do I feel like I'm channeling Dr. Seuss right now?)  No charged batteries required.

You can pack a paperback in your suitcase.  Or even in a large pocketbook, ready for a suitable occasion.  You can read them in the sun.  You can read them in the bath.

And you can get books at the library.  I use the library so much I almost feel guilty about it.  I even pay fines with a smile, knowing I have just contributed to the library.  Ditto with library book sales, which are like chocolate to me.  It's the thrill of the hunt.  What will I find?   I spent time last Saturday at the Ithaca, NY library book sale, and left with a smile (and $27 of merchandise).

And, most of some point in time, will publishers decide to discontinue books?  Will I, in a small way, help the demise of physical books if I get an e-Reader?  The last thing I want is to have on my life's resume is a part responsibility for the death of traditional books.  How could I live with myself?

Books are books.  You don't have to worry if your book is available in the right format for a Kindle, a Nook, or some other format.  You don't need an Internet or phone connection to get one. A well crafted book (no acid paper) will outlive me.  It may outlive my son.  An e-book?  Will the format be around in 20 years?

But, I have to face the fact that more and more of my friends and co-workers are joining the e-reader revolution. These people, mind you, are in their 50's and 60's.  They have lived with books all their lives, but they are choosing to get e-readers.

1.  You can buy books that strike your fancy from the comfort of wherever you are.  A wonderful thing for impulsive people-until they get the bill.
2.  Free books or books that are cheaper than the physical editions.
3. Being able to adjust fonts.  Now, this is a big one for the senior reader.  Trust me, younger bloggers, on this one.  When you turn 40, this is suddenly going to get very important as print suddenly shrinks to the size of teeny-tiny ants.

4.  Privacy.  There was a hysterical skit on Saturday Night Live last Saturday (the content of which I can't mention in a family blog) about why a Mom would want a Kindle.
5.  If you travel abroad, you can easily get books in your preferred language.

And finally, one last observation.  I was dragged into digital photography kicking and screaming.  Within a day, I was absolutely hooked.  Why did we ever use film?  Well, film has uses but digital photography has uses, too.

So, maybe I will compromise, get an e reader, and keep my books.

What do you think?  Do you refuse to get an e reader?  Have you made the plunge?  And if so, do you use both your e reader and physical books?



  1. Embracing one doesn't mean you have to forsake the other! At least that's how I see it, and the industry as a whole. I think there's a place for both print and e-books. At least, there is in my house. I read on an e-book reader in bed, where there's that beautiful backlight that means I don't have to turn on a lamp. I also read a nice print book curled up in a chair in the sunshine, where I can flip forward and back through the pages. There are benefits to both!

  2. Hi Alana,
    Yes, you should definitely do it. I've had an e-reader for some time and I'm so happy with it. Some other advantages of e-readers are: you can read your own word documents or some web pages on it (at least, that's what I do with Kindle), and you can discover authors who have chosen to go 100% digital, which is really interesting. And to answer the last question: yes I'm still reading paper books of course. The two are complementary in my opinion.

  3. My husband bought me my first ereader a few years ago (it's funny, I think it was about $200, now they can be had for $80) and I feel in love with ereading. We have a very small house (800 sq ft, two small bedrooms), and had cut way back on my book buying because we simply didn't have space for all my books (and my husband's books are all in boxes at my mom's house). Ereading has given me the freedom to buy (I really believe in buying books as my budget allows, because I want to support the book industry) what I want without worrying about space issues.

    The other thing ereading (and I keep meaning to do a blog post about this) has done for me is broaden my horizons about what I read. Because I'm not walking around a bookstore, looking in certain sections for books, the genres I read have really expanded--for example, after owning my Kindle, I discovered that I love the urban fantasy genre, which I'd never heard of before owning my ereader. (I discovered these books via Goodreads.) I've also rediscovered the young adult category and found so many books I love that I would've passed up in a bookstore because they're shelved in the "teen" section.

    However, I still buy paper books. I read a lot (usually around 150 books a year), so my very favorites I often buy print copies of as well, because it makes them lendable (I'm a HUGE book pusher) and I figure it's good to have them in case of some sort of disaster in which we're without electricity for a long time. (I know, I don't think reading would be my #1 priority, but you never know.)

    Oh, and in my library system, you can check out ebooks, which is really nice. (I've discovered a lot of new authors this way.)

    I bought my mom a Kindle last year (she was adamantly anti-ereader) and she loves it because she can bump up the type and read without her glasses.

    If you do take the plunge and try out ereading, I do suggest that you download a free program called Calbire, which helps you to manage your ebook library (there are also some plugins for this program that make your books portable to a differently formatted device). And, if you like reading in the bubble bath (I sure do!), you can pop your ereader into a ziploc freezer bag to protect it from the water.

    Anyway, I strong believe that people should read in whatever format works for them, but my own experience has been very, very positive with digital reading.

  4. I love my e-reader, but still prefer physical books for the most part. Very useful gadget though - I wouldn't be without it now!

  5. I laughed over your Seusisms. I came to the ereader with reluctance for many of the reasons you stated, but as a book blogger, I needed it for digital galleys. I still prefer physical books and galleys for reading at home, but my Kindle comes with me when I leave the house. I store it in my pocketbook. It is especially good for long travels.

    Checking last year's expenses, I spent the same amount of money on books but now half was on ebooks. I still probably spend more on real books than the average person. You can check out ebooks from the public library now.

    The biggest quandary for you, if you decide to cross over to the dark side, will be deciding which reader since you will be stuck with that format. I chose Kindle since it had the most titles and a keyboard but the latest night light function on the Nook makes me envious.

    It's so nice to connect with another who loves both books and wildflowers!

  6. you don't have to give away physical books if you buy Kindle, I still love both. actually I wrote about e-readers this week. I had really hard time deciding about buying it or not, but I'm happy I did. I read much more since I have e-reader, which is probably a good thing. :)


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