As I was packing up my gear for six months of travel, I was suddenly very aware of how much space books occupy in my backpack. I had encountered the same issue on other trips, never mind the addition of journals, notebooks, etc. I’m a bibliophile through and through – the physical weight of a book is just as important to me as its contents. (Sorta.)
And as I disregarded extra pairs of dr’ars in favour of more literature, for the first time ever I found myself thinking: I wish I had an e-reader.
I brought up the topic on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve found people are extremely divided and passionate about their decisions. As quick as I am to defend physical books, the pro e-readers are equally quick in jumping down my throat about it. Or if I express my need for something travel-friendly, the bibliophiles chime in with, “BURN HER AT THE STAKE!” Anyway, it’s a fun topic to write about because people are so opinionated on the matter. I seriously love discussing it with people.
I’ve been incredibly opposed to having an e-reader for a number of reasons.
1. My life is already consumed with gadgets
As if I need another electronic in my hand while I’m trying to juggle an iPhone, laptop, and camera. There’s something reassuring about flipping open the pages of a book.
2. It just doesn’t feel like I’m reading a book
I may have had my expectations too high, because a former colleague raved about how her Kindle was just like reading a real book. I was enthusiastic to try, but nope. Where’s the book smell? The sound of pages turning? THE INSANITY. I write primarily online these days but in all honestly, I rarely read online. Digital isn’t my favourite thing in the world.
3. You can’t see what others are reading
Sure, you can ask, but it’s more fun to strike up a conversation with someone over a book when you already know the title and can relate. I once used said tactic to hit on a guy at the airport reading Mystic River. It didn’t go very far, and I’m certain I creeped him out.
Similarly, I love browsing people’s bookshelves and connecting over shared literary loves.
4. You don’t have to power down your book during a flight
I hate flying, and reading during takeoff and landing helps calm my nerves while I’m waiting for the beer and tranquilizers to be served. I’ve also never needed to recharge a book.
5. I feel good for supporting independent bookstores
There’s something wonderful about wandering into a small independently owned bookshop filled with quirkiness and book-loving people. My favourite bookstore in Montreal used to be littered with stacks of books and magazines, chipped coffee mugs, professors and teenagers crowded around tables with pages spread out around them. I am the ultimate pretentious hipster. I miss it.
6. You can’t share your e-books
I LOVE swapping books with good friends. I love sharing my reads. (Only when my friend is reliable enough to return the book, of course.)
On the other hand, I find myself desiring an e-reader more and more.
The perks of having an e-reader
-Seriously, I’d probably cut 10 lbs out of my backpack load. Although I can use book exchanges to keep me fuelled while on the road, I’m not so eager to part with a book I love.
-New books are cheaper.
-I’ll spend less time reading things I don’t particularly want to read because it’s the only option available. (I suppose the opposite is that I get to discover a lot of new literature I wouldn’t otherwise have considered.)
I’m sure when I’m not so poor I’ll eventually give in and buy an e-reader. What are your thoughts/preferences? Is there a particular e-reader you LOVE? Might as well do market research.