I always thought I was a book purist. I love the smell of books – old and new. I like the way a spine can break, the way pages fade and go brown on the edges of cheap paperbacks. I love to look through people’s book collections to discover new things about them. I just plain love books.
The idea of reading books in digital form did not appeal to me. I work in publishing, and have always found working with digital proofs much harder (on my eyes and sanity) than good old-fashioned hard copy. More and more ebook readers were being released, however, and there started to seem like some legitimate reasons to try them.
For my birthday last year, I asked for a kindle (after much deliberation over which brand; tablet vs. e-reader; you name it). Now, I absolutely love my kindle. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up buying hardcopy – I don’t think I ever would (and I love publishing’s idea of collectable covers and editions of books, I think that is a brilliant move), but I am absolutely a digital convert.
Here are a few reasons why:
1) Travel: My kindle is the best traveling companion I could have. I used to be one of these people whose luggage would be full of multiple novels to keep me occupied. No longer will my luggage weight be over the limit! I can take as many books with me as I want, and not have to forgo the shopping spree while away.
2) It’s light: My kindle weighs less than 170g. I know this might not be a huge issue for some of you, but I’ve had trouble with my wrists and arms for years (specialist can’t tell me anything – not RSI, tendonitis, or carpel tunnel, but similar to all of the above). My arms get tired and sore holding up big books. I often drop them or lose my page. But no more!
3) It’s quick: I am an impulse buyer when it comes to entertainment, and I have to admit that being able to purchase any book I want in a matter of seconds is brilliant (and dangerous!). There are so many titles available, I’ve only found one title unavailable so far (an obscure YA novel published in the 1980’s, so no surprise really).
4) Document reading: I can send my own documents to my kindle, so I can read them on the go. I’ve yet to take full advantage of this feature, but I think it is a great idea – especially for aspiring writers. Take your drafts out with you and read it through in a different environment. It might help you get fresh perspective!
5) Classic books for free: Most classic books are out of copyright, and have been available for free on places like Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org) for a while. But with a Kindle (or e-reader of your choice), they are easy to find, quick to download, and completely, totally FREE! So if you have been wanting to read all those classic books that everyone talks about but you never got around to it, this is a perfect excuse to get your teeth stuck into some Mary Shelley, Plato, Edgar Allen Poe, or even some out of print cookery books!
6) I spilled tea on it and it just wiped off! (Clearly the most important point in this list).
Of course, there are a lot of things to consider before you purchase any new device. I am not going to go into the debate of backlit vs. e-ink (personally I love the e-ink for the no-headaches – I also have trouble sleeping if I’ve been looking at a backlit screen too close to bed time), nor can I really recommend a particular brand. I was already a regular Amazon user, so a Kindle seemed like the most natural choice for me, but I’ve heard good things about other devices and stores as well (and of course, if you are looking for books in a language other than English, you might want to check who has the largest collection in your chosen language!).