I resisted getting an e-reader for a long time. I like the feel of pages as I turn them. I like buying used books for a dollar on the bargain table. I like being able to loan favorites to my friends without worrying about compatibility. But I reached my breaking point after purchasing this:
I’d been waiting for the newest installment in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for years. But it happened to be released in a year when I was travelling pretty much every other week. That sucker is not carry-on friendly. I started fantasizing about how amazing it would be if I could take the whole book with me in a much smaller, lighter format — say, the six-ounce basic Kindle. Fortunately Santa (read: my mother-in-law) decided I’d been good in 2011 and put one under the tree.
Four months later, I am absolutely in love my Kindle. Here’s why.
1) I can take an entire library with me.
I read quickly. It’s not unheard of for me to finish a novel in a day. This is a huge problem when I travel, especially if I’m going on a read-on-the-beach type of vacation. My options are either a) devote a lot of suitcase weight to books, or b) run out of reading material halfway through the trip.
My Kindle solves that problem. That one little six-ounce device can carry thousands of books. I will never run out of books again!
2) I can get books instantly.
I know, I know, we live in a horrible society where everyone demands instant gratification. But darn it, sometimes it’s really wonderful to be able to download new books wirelessly. For example, last fall I spent a day in bed with some weird combination of a head cold and the flu. There was nothing good on TV and I was out of new things to read. I was incredibly bored but way too shaky and dizzy to even contemplate putting on real pants and going to the library or the bookstore. If I’d had my Kindle, however, this wouldn’t have been an issue — I could have pulled out my laptop and borrowed a new book from my library, or bought one from Amazon directly via the Kindle itself. No real pants required.
3) It’s just for books.
People keep trying to sell me on the iPad by telling me “it does everything — it’s like a laptop and an e-reader in one!” I’m still not interested. First, there’s the $500+ price tag — way too steep for a library-loving cheapskate like yours truly. Second, I already spend my workdays in front of a computer. If I also read for pleasure on a backlit screen, I’d probably be blind by the end of the year.
But even if someone came up with an affordable tablet that could use an e-ink display I don’t think I’d want to read books on a multi-tasking device. I tend to be a bit distractible, especially when I’m stressed. If I could check my e-mail or the New York Times headlines on my e-reader, I’m not going to lie — I’d be clicking away from my book three or four times a chapter instead of focusing on the story and unwinding. So I’m a big fan of having a dedicated books-only device.
All that said, I haven’t given up on physical books. I still love the feel of physical pages and there are definitely drawbacks to e-books. For instance, it’s super-annoying when the Kindle version of a book is more expensive than the paperback version,* or when the library has an eBook I want but only in a non-Kindle format.** But I am thrilled that I’ll never have to make weight-based decisions about my vacation reading material again!
* Why does this happen? There’s absolutely no reason for an electronic, paper-free version of a book to be more expensive than a new paperback! Grrr.
** Publishers: will you please reconsider this proprietary formatting crap? You’re just punishing people who purchased or borrowed your product legally instead of pirating it. Do you really want to give people more incentives to steal? I didn’t think so.