For a long time I resisted getting an e-reader. I think it was really from being used to having the book in my hand and being able to flip through the pages. Plus I’m a huge fan of books that play around with format, whether they have illustrations or textured pages. I recently read The Night Circus, the edition with the white cover, and the design as well as the red edged pages all really tied in with the atmosphere and the magic of the book. I think, had it read the Kindle edition, I perhaps wouldn’t have been so enchanted. I’m also an avid fan of graphic novels – more to come on this – and though I have read a few comics on the iBooks app, it doesn’t lend itself to this kind of storytelling.
However, last Christmas I gave in and asked for an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. I chose it because it was the least expensive and I didn’t feel like I needed what was essentially a tablet. Unfortunately, I love it. It has it’s own pros and cons:
- It’s really easy to find and buy the books you’re looking for.
- Books are usually cheaper, though I feel bad for saying this as I know so much work and care goes into producing print books.
- The definition and highlighting functions appeal to my inner book nerd – I can highlight without marking a page forever! Plus I can save my favourite quotes and learn new words.
- It’s really portable – useful if you’ve decided to read Game of Thrones on holiday or some similar unwieldily tome
- The X-Ray function! Though it doesn’t seem to work on all books, it’s really handy for books where there are a ton of characters and you want to go back to a particular scene or need a refresher on who’s related to and doing what with who’s sister (GOT).
- Storage – this is particularly great for people like me, who read around 8 books at once and flip between them. If you’re not in the mood for what you’re currently reading, you can just pick another one in your collection.
- The battery life on this thing is amazing – it can go days without needing to charge, and when you do need to, mine only takes an hour to full.
- It’s actually really pretty. I know. Isn’t it frustrating?
- It’s far too easy to buy books – seriously, just search, click and buy. I really have to watch my spending on this!
- Not all the books are readily available for Kindle, though this will probably change
- It doesn’t work as well with graphic novels or illustrations – probably due to mine only having a black and white display but even with a full colour e-reader I still think graphic novels wouldn’t work in this format.
- You can’t browse a Kindle. I mean, Amazon will have you believe you can, but it isn’t the same as a bookshop. Things don’t jump out at you as much, there’s no personal touch to the shelves, and really it’s designed for you to know what you’re looking for.
- I personally love seeing what people are reading out and about – you always wonder where they are in the book and what they’re thinking, have they got to that bit yet, who are their favourite characters. Kindles are far less social.
- You can’t gift kindle books; even if you can, it would be a weird process. Though I have asked for an Amazon Voucher for Christmas precisely for this reason, it’s not as exciting as receiving a print book.
- An author can’t sign your kindle. I mean, they could, but they’d probably prefer to sign a copy of their own book. I know as a writer I would be far more excited to see a physical copy of my own book than releasing it digitally.
- The publishing world seems to have reacted to this development by finding mine, and many other book lovers, kryptonite – new, incredibly beautiful editions of books. They’re a salute to the publishing process and writing as an art form; you want to own them, read them, show them off, discuss them with your friends. You just don’t get this with e-books.
I would say my overall conclusion would be a good balance between physical copies and e-books. I’ve found since last Christmas, though I was initially addicted to my Kindle, my attention has soon gone back to physical copies. At first it was exciting, and I even found a Garth Nix short story I hadn’t read or heard of (Fire Above, Fire Below, pictured) and it’s good for trying samples of books and even reading some you might be embarrassed to own (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone? I was curious. Shh.) but my enthusiasm has definitely wavered. This may be because I volunteer at a Oxfam Bookshop in my spare time and I’m also a magpie for books, but really I forget what I’ve got to read on there – and it’s far less impressive in a ‘to read’ pile.