My bookshelf is more than packed. There’s hardly room for another title. But has that ever stopped me from buying another bunch of books during online sales? Nope! Have I wracked my brains trying to fit them in afterwards, ultimately failing and sleeping on the couch? Yes.
Here’s the thing: I’ve often seen fellow bibliophiles firmly declare that books (the paper kind) are the only way to enjoy reading. On the other side, there are friends who have effortlessly moved over to their Kindles and now won’t stop talking about how great that is. It can often make you feel like you must pick a side.
There’s no way I would ever give up on the warm fuzzy feeling of wrapping myself in a quilt, with a cup of piping hot tea and a Jane Austen title. It’s just that sometimes a copy of War And Peace is a tad too big fort my sling bag, especially when I’m travelling.
So, having recently transitioned to an e-reader after a few misgivings of my own, I felt it was only right to settle this debate once and for all.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Here’s why an e-reader can often feel like a blessing.
On the move
A good reading device is almost like swiping on your smartphone. It’s as easy as that to change pages in a crowded bus or train. Turning pages of your hard copy might just put you at a risk of losing balance or become a victim of a sudden brake, making you stumble or tumble, or both. An e-reader works beautifully when you’re on the move.
If you have not noticed yet, you might want to check the prices of new releases again. Not many of the books you’ve been eagerly waiting for are going to be cheap. However, the eBook versions of new releases can be considerably lighter on your pocket. For instance, compare the paperback and eBook prices of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, a title that was shortlisted for the Man Booker this year. That’s enough difference to squeeze in another eBook!
Essentially, the long-term investment of an e-reader can get you cheaper books for a decade or more.
Imagine reading Love Story by Erich Segal. For any average reader, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to complete the book. So, what if you are on a long distance train journey, and you wish to jump to the sequel – Oliver’s Story? Or maybe that book bored you halfway and now you want to switch genres and start reading Gone Girl? The e-reader lets you pack in as many books as you want to along with hundreds of magazines to satiate our whimsical, ADD minds.
Having said that, let’s take a step back and weigh out some cons.
Gadgets go crazy
Believe it or not, we all have had phones that randomly went kaput, e-readers and tablets that randomly hung. A paperback never ditches. Never runs out of battery either.
Make a mark
Some readers might not like dog ears in their books, but writing personalized messages on the opening pages of a new volume, making notes of your favourite lines, circling new words, these are some of the lifelong joys I have associated with reading. You cannot replicate these on your e-reader, no matter how much we humanize technology.
Hard on the eyes
After spending 10 hours in front of office desktops and phones, why would one want to curl up in your bed with yet another screen? Besides, touching the paper and turning the pages of your hardcover is a feeling beyond compare. It cannot be replaced by any high-end gadget.
Bottomline? Personally, I would love to have a room full of books and more books, and then some titles packed in a sleek, little e-reader. Win-win, both ways. However, in the larger picture, this is largely a matter of personal preference, and there’s no reason why the two cannot coexist. Read a paperback or read on your device; as long as you are reading, it’s all good.
What about you? Are you staunchly set on your reading preferences or is there room for change?