I always insisted that I didn’t like e-books. Staring at a computer screen long enough to read a book just wouldn’t be kind on the eyes, I thought, nor offer the same relaxation that reading a book does.
Then e-books moved to ebook readers, such as the kindle. I had a play with a friend’s nook and insisted that nope, still not me. Convientent and all to carry multiple titles with you…. but still, heavy (heavier than a mass-market paperback at least) and bulky, with a learning curve that books simply didn’t posess. Definitely not me.
Several of my friends then purchased iPhone’s, and started downloading their ebooks to their phone, to read out and about on the go. I wasn’t sold on the ebook side of things, but I was very sold on the iPhone. I’d been without an mp3 player for awhile by then, and also saw the use of being able to store my entire, already mostly digital, knitting pattern library on it, replacing not one but two file folders that I had a habit of forgetting places or losing altogether. That was convience.
I forget what exactly convinced me to try reading ebooks on the iPhone. I can’t even remember for sure which ebooks were the first ones I read. I do remember, however, that for the longest time I only read ebooks that I also had a physical, traditional, copy of – the ebook was kind of like a back up, for when I was out and about, or forgot my book, or was in a dark environment.
But those days are long gone for me. I am quite happily an ebook reader now. That is not to say, however, that I no longer read physical, paper books, anymore, or even that I prefer the ebook format. eBooks pose several advantages to reading a physical book. However, they also come with their own set of unique disadvantages, too.
What I love about eBooks –
The ability to read in the dark. This is intensely useful in my life stage of the moment, seeing as I enjoy reading before I fall asleep at night, but currently co-sleep with Miss 9.5 months, who sleeps much better when all the lights are out. Admittedly, I’ve actually tried reading physical books, with a portable book-light or pen light – both proved awkward at best, and the light was ambient enough that I still felt paranoid that the baby would wake because of it (although to date she hasn’t yet).
Portability. This probably applies most simply to my chosen reader, the iPhone. I still don’t own one of the more specific eBook readers, such as a Kindle, nook, or even iPad, but nor am I overly coveting them. (Admittedly, I’d love to have an iPad – but not primarily as an eBook reader 😉 ) The upside of using my iPhone as an ebook reader, is that it is something I already keep with me at virtually all times. I sleep with it next to my bed (it’s my alarm clock). I take it everywhere I go (it provides the music in the car, or on a walk, plus of course, it’s my phone). It’s palm-sized and lightweight – smaller and thinner than virtually any mass market paperback. I can fit it in my pocket and not feel overly burdened.
An entire library in one device. This ‘advantage’ also is a disadvantage however. Although I do indeed have a small but substantial library on my phone, it differs significantly from the reasonable collection of physical books I own. This can indeed prove problematic if I’m wishing to read a particular title. Ideally, I’d have all titles in both formats – but that’s just not practical at this point!
Sexiness. Sorry, I have to say it. I look a lot cooler / more modern when seen looking at my phone, than I do with my nose in a book. I’m happy to be called a nerd… but really, being a geek is sexier.
Advantages of the old-fashioned, traditional books:
Bathability. Ok, we all know books don’t fare well in a bath. But I’m the type who absolutely relishes soaking in a hot bubble bath with a good book, preferably a smutty romance or light-hearted chick lit. And while dropping any kind of book in the bath is not a good thing…. I’d much rather ruin a $10 paperback than a $700 iPhone, and not risk electric shock to boot. Knowing me, I totally would slip and drop it, so now if I’m reading an ebook but want to read in the bath, I have to find something else to read (in physical book format) just for that occasion. Definitely not ideal.
Being seen reading a book. Okay, so I said above that sexiness is part of the appeal of reading an ebook, and it is. But there are certain situations where I would much rather be seen reading a physical book. When I’m at home with my children around me, I want them to see me reading. I want to model reading for them. Because I do so many other things on my phone (or computer for that matter) as well as read, it’s far to easy to dismiss the important act of spending time reading as just ‘playing on the phone / computer’, or more screen time. Reading is the antithesis of screen time really, and I absolutely want to model that for them. Of course, there’s the drawback that it seems it’s much harder to read uninterrupted when I have a book physically in my hands, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay if it helps my girls grow up to be fellow bibliophiles.
The tactile experience. Because, as any book lover knows, the act of actually reading a book cannot be beat. The appearance of the cover, the smell of the book, the feel of turning the pages, holding the pages open, finding a suitable bookmark…. all of that goes along, part and parcel with the experience. I love that experience. Most ebook readers attempt to similate that experience, often with cover art and a way of turning pages that simulates the actual thing – but it’s just not the same, and doesn’t carry the same emotive response within me. That emotive response trumps any other reasons in me for completely converting to ebooks. What can I say? I love books. And part of that love will always be exclusively for books, not software.
What do you think? Have I missed anything?