Thursday, 15 May 2014

Thursday Thoughts: On eReaders and Their Awesomeness!

Another Thursday, another bookish discussion! Thursday Thoughts is a feature started up by Ashley over at Ok, Let’s Read, and I’m super excited about it this week because hey, got strong feelings about this one!  
Her questions: eReaders - Do you own an eReader (or a tablet that you read on)? Do you prefer eReaders or physical books and why? Do you think it is wise to invest in an eReader? If you could only read physical books or an eReader for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

My answer: Team Kindle, all the way.

I admit I used to prefer print books. I would rhapsodise about the smell of books (old & musty, new & salt-and-vinegar-ish), the beauty of their binding, and the pleasures of reading in a bathtub. And I still do appreciate bookbinding, although I think it’s an archaic hobby and have thus given it up in favour of learning R.

But I personally think ebooks (and ereaders) are far superior to their print counterparts. Why? They’re cheap. They’re light. You can carry hundreds of them in your purse. They help declutter your house. The automatic dictionaries improve your vocabulary and are complete life-savers when you read in a second language. They’re easy to search, preserve, and share. And how many people own bathtubs anyway? I haven’t lived in a dwelling that had one for, oh, the past ten years or so.

Downsides: eReaders rarely display maps well, which is sometimes an issue when reading geographical non-fiction texts/ epic fantasy novels. I expect this will change as the technology improves.

Basically I LOVE ebooks because they can go anywhere. My print books - twenty odd boxes of them - are still sitting in my parents’ garage. They’ve been there for years. They’ll probably never leave. It’s just not practical to shift that number internationally, especially since I've no idea how long I'll be based in China. (Another six months? Another year? Another three?) So yes: if pressed, I would exclusively read ebooks for the rest of my life. It wouldn't be hard; I practically do that already. 

Environmentally, I’m not sure if print or electronic books are better. I’ve read articles arguing it both ways. Yes, print books require paper... but ereaders also require resources, and old electronics are rarely disposed of properly. 

But this brings me to the main criticism I hear about ereaders – that they break, leaving you bookless. And yes, I have felt this pain. The first time my Kindle broke, it took me over three months to replace. Because it turns out that doesn’t ship to China, and doesn’t sell Kindles – in fact, they’re really hard to buy over here (although there are other ereaders on the market). In the end, I had the Kindle sent to a friend in NZ. She then posted it onto me. A month later, after some bureaucratic wrangling with customs, I got a very exciting box in the mail. Still, during that Kindle-less period, it wasn’t like I didn’t have access to books. I had a Kindle app on my phone. Because I am a firm believer in stripping the DRM off books, I could also read everything on my computer with Calibre. (I know Amazon has a Kindle app for PC, but it’s really buggy and I’m not a fan. Also, the app doesn’t allow you to organise books, which becomes a problem when you have 300+ of them.)

What about you? Do you prefer ebooks to print, or don't you care either way?


  1. I passed on my first kindle to my sister recently. It lasted three weeks before it broke. I feel so bad for her. If I lose my paper white I will be so sad.

    Honestly the only time I prefer real books is if the title has footnotes, because they suck on kindle. I never look at the damn maps, so whatever on that front.

    Love my kindle.

    1. Don't put it through an xray machine without turning it off and you should be fine. Your poor sister though. I hope she bought a new one and wasn't just put off by it dying on her?

  2. I can't live without my Kindle. I've had one since the first generation and upgrade with every new version, trading in or passing along my old ones to friends or family members. Team Kindle, all the way here too.

    I do a mix of formats now, splitting my reading time between print, ebook and audio. Love it all, but I agree nothing beats the convenience of the ereader. Especially with the brick-like fantasy tomes I like to read, it's so much nice to have something I could just throw in my purse and take everywhere.


    1. I hear you on the fantasy tomes!! I never realised just enormous they were until I stopped carrying them around on a regular basis.

  3. E-readers have improved dramatically my access to books, especially those in my favorite genres: gone are the "bad old days" when I had to wait until I had a good number of titles that would make the Amazon delivery worthwhile; gone is the wait for those books to arrive, while I wallowed in worry for the quirks of the postal service.
    Now I see I book that could interest me, go to Amazon or Kobo, buy and download it and can start reading immediately. Instant gratification!

    Yes, e-readers can break, but I know I will not lose a single book: all my purchases are safely backed up on an external drive, so... Welcome progress! :-)

    1. Exactly how I feel! Now if only they would get rid of those terrible geographical restrictions...

  4. I enjoy my Kindle but I only use it for eARCs. I still adore my physical books, but admit that they take up a LOT of space. I don't want to see the end of physical books so I would pick them over ebooks anyday :)

    1. Well it's not really a problem unless you move house a lot.

      I'm still totally jealous of people who have genuine home libraries, even though I don't read print. They seem so cozy.