Working in a bookshop, I regularly hear jokes made about e-readers – one customer will tell another not to swear if they mention that they might look for a book as an e-book, or might jokingly suggest that we might kick them out of the shop if they mention owning a Kindle (just in case it isn’t obvious, we won’t – that would be unbelievably bad service, and we like it when the business makes a profit and we continue to get paid!). While many of the people I work with and serve have very strong feelings against e-readers, my own feelings about e-readers are much more neutral, for a number of different reasons, which I thought I would have a bit of a natter about below.
While I love the experience of reading an actual, physical book, it’s weight and smell and the way it slowly ages to tell it’s own story about your experiences reading it, I do have an e-reader which I use fairly regularly. The main reason I started using my e-reader was because I moves interstate for university, and was forced to leave many of my books behind. There was a limit to how much I could take with me to university, and having to decide which of books made the cut was a horrible, horrible experience. Add to that the fact that I had to pack all of my possessions up at the end of each year, being able to keep a collection of books I loved on one convenient device became a major draw-card for me during the years that I was studying. Another bonus while I was studying was that e-books are often somewhat cheaper than their physical counterparts; I was living off scholarships and my mother’s support, and unfortunately books were a long way down the list of priorities, after food and textbooks and rent. In those years that I was studying, my e-book was a lifesaver – a collection of some of my favourite stories that I could carry with me everywhere I went, allowing me to escape from the stress and drama of University life, and saving me from more than a few heavy boxes being added to the piles of things I needed to move at the end of the year!
While my e-reader got a whole lot of use in the years that I was studying interstate, now that I have moved back home and am in a rather more permanent position (at least for now), I have started buying almost all of my books as actual physical books. The fact that I have been working at a bookshop for the last 9 months probably plays some sort of part (the books are so pretty!), as does the knowledge that I won’t have to pack any of the books up into boxes anytime soon! Nowadays, the only time I really use my e-reader is when I am travelling, and it is then that I am reminded of the reasons why I find it so wonderful. I am the sort of person who, when on holidays, can easily read a book a day, more if I’m on a road trip where I’m not doing much of the driving. I have been known to need an extra suitcase just to bring books home from a holiday, and when I’m travelling with just carry on, things become very impractical! I also love the fact that I have so many different types of book on my e-reader – I tend to find that what I feel like reading can change dramatically on a holiday, and having my e-reader saves me from lugging 10 different books with me on the off chance that I might feel like reading one but not the other!
While I had planned for this post to be a way for me to share my opinions of e-readers, in the end I think I have just ended up having the same debate that I always end up having with myself! I find that both physical books and e-readers have both benefits and drawbacks, and I doubt I will ever be able to make a definite decision about one over the other. Luckily, I live in a world where I don’t need to make a decision – I can change from one to the other depending on my situation, and really, I think that is the best way it could be!