This morning, I came across an old post from 2010 in which I was debating the merits of investing in an e-reader. I was open to the idea of buying one, and briefly weighed the pros and cons of some available different devices. In the two and a half years since I wrote that, I’ve dug in my heels and quite opposed to e-books, at least for me. The convenience and portability of the digital book has been far outweighed by the loss of the physical delights of reading, and the proliferation of sub-par, self-published books that clutter up the market have only added to my dislike of the format.
There are other reasons that I dislike e-readers; some of them are silly, and some of them are (I think) quite valid. E-readers prevent you from finding out what people are reading at a glance – if I see someone carrying a much worn copy of Gone With the Wind or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I can strike up a conversation about a favorite book. Can’t do that with an e-reader, since there’s no way to know whether someone’s reading the Wall Street Journal or 50 Shades of Grey. Digital books can’t be shared as easily as physical paper copies. Although I believe Amazon and Barnes & Noble have both made strides to increase the “lendability” of e-books, it isn’t the same as handing someone a book and saying, “Here, you’ll love this.” Same with highlighting and making notes – I think some progress has been made on this front, but it’s much easier to mark up a physical copy and then use it for reference. (Although most of my teachers have taken to sending out PDFs for our class readings, I still have to print out a copy to read and mark up.) When it comes to art books or colorful graphic novels, so much is lost on a tiny e-reader screen. It just isn’t worth it.
Obviously, there are a lot of people who don’t share my view. My mother-in-law was never much of a reader. My husband had told me it was because she didn’t like it, but a few months ago I found out that this wasn’t exactly true. It’s not that she dislikes reading, but that she found the small text used in most books too difficult to read. (That no one ever told her about large print books is beyond me, but that’s how it goes.) When her husband gave her a Kindle, and she found she could easily adjust the size of the text, her love of reading flourished and she’s been speeding through books as if she’s trying to catch up for decades of lost time. For readers like her, the e-reader is a blessing.
Unfortunately, like many recent converts to the digital era she’s become quite the proselytizer. She now believes that everyone’s life will be better with a Kindle or a Nook in their pocket. Since she knows that I like to read, my husband has to her talk her down from buying one for me every time a holiday comes ‘round. I’m sure that in the next few months, it’ll come up again.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: The Borden Tragedy by Rick Geary
2010: Discussion Question + Happy Halloween!
2009: Totally Off-Topic: Steepster.com
2008: Bread & Chocolate by Philippa Gregory