Monday, April 02, 2012

To e-read or not to e-read

Credit: Grant Snider, The New York Times:  
I got a chuckle out of this comic strip because I can relate. Having been an avid collector of books since I was nine years old, I've had to put a damper on my book buying since moving overseas nearly five years ago. A semi-nomadic lifestyle and a collection of two thousand books are not mutually compatible. In four years of trekking back and forth between Europe and the US, I've lugged more than my fair share of 40-50 pound carry-ons. Baggage weight restrictions meant all those heavy books were not checked into the cargo area. No, they were strapped to my back where I wouldn't be charged excess baggage fees. I mean, that's money that can go to buying more books! Once I had boarded and successfully stashed my literary burdens I will admit to feeling a bit panicky at times as I imagined someone innocently opening the overhead locker and being concussed when my overstuffed backpack tumbled out. Thankfully, my carry-ons were always too heavy to "shift during landing". And so my two loves, travel and reading, stood in opposition to one another until I was gifted a Kindle last September.

I love the convenience of a Kindle. It's perfect for travel. It is easy to use, has a nice feel, and I can take it anywhere. Aside from that, I do miss the feel of a book. I miss turning pages. I find it annoying that I can't flip around to different spots in the books I'm reading. I also miss the smell of books. But most importantly to me, I miss the knowledge that when I open a book, I am either entering into a history of previous readers sharing this same experience, or I'm beginning that history when I crease the cover of a new book for the first time. Flick on the screen of an e-reader and it's an individual experience. You cannot lend your library to other people. You are reading words on a screen that only you see. For some reason, I'm less apt to read interesting parts of books aloud to my husband when I'm reading my Kindle. Give me a real book, and I'm probably a bit annoying with my "Hey love, listen to this" barrage. Additionally, I wish I could purchase my books from independent bookstores. Having grown up in a publishing family, this is important to me. The Kindle is purely a convenience to me for a phase in my life. I know I will be buying hardcopies again in the future, possibly even copies of books I've read on my Kindle and really enjoyed. There is just something about a book that makes it irreplaceable to me. But I may be an anomaly in this age of electronic gadgets, tablets and smart phones. I thought it would be interesting to hear from you. Do you have an e-reader? Do you enjoy using it? What are the benefits and drawbacks for you? Do you wish there were more books available in electronic format? What about children's books? Do you use eReaders for educational purposes? Do your kids read books on a computer, Kindle, or iPad? Do you find you end up buying hardcopies of e-books you've read? Are e-books the future? Or will we always have books?

We would love to hear what you think about e-books and the future of reading. 


  1. I love my e-reader, but I also love my books. I have also led a nomadic lifestyle over the past nine years, which has led to several broken bookshelves, and books staying packed in a over a dozen boxes for a very long time. The e-reader provides a convenience that is very valuable to me at the moment. My nine-year old and seven year old even have their own collections on the e-reader so that they may use their backpacks for legos and snuggies.

  2. No we do not have one! My husband and I and the kids are avid readers! We don't like the price of new books though, so we collect at estate sales and salvation army (for all of us) and go to the library frequently!
    Love the feel of books and I just don't want to read an electronic device prior to going to sleep. I'm around the computer, iphone and ipad all day (kids have DS's). That a paper book is important to us. We share our books with family members and friends.

    We are not nomadic. In a house I hope to call home for the next 12 - 20 years at least!!

  3. No, we do not use them. We are not convinced of the safety in prolonged use of e-reading for children. We have concerns about physical safety such as eye fatigue and changes in ability to concentrate. We also have concerns about the fact that these readers have access to the world wide web and all that comes with that.

  4. I personally use a Kindle Fire, but I do miss being able to loan a good book I read to someone. It doesn't seem the same to say, "You should read..." and not have a copy of said book to loan. I actually love my Kindle... easy to take anywhere and many older classics are either cheap or free. I also enjoy the lending library. However, for our schooling and read alouds, regular books are what we use. Somehow, being gathered around a real book for a great read aloud seems better than an electronic device. None of my children are using an e-reader of their own, and other than my oldest teenager, I don't anticipate any of them using one any time soon. We will always have real books around this house!

  5. I have an e-reader - a Nook and I absolutely love this device. I can read on it my eBooks downloaded from All you can books... a really great site with hundreds if not thousands of very good titles.
    I can't wait to have a little holiday to read some of my favorite books.

  6. I prefer an old fashioned BOOK!~mia =)

  7. I like my Kindle because I can find old books for free or for .99 cents that I might not find so easily or inexpensively other wise. I love books too and would rather have the book in my hand. But I am thankful for the new technology that the ebooks offer.