I’m not stereotypically what I should be. A new top? Nice. New technology? I’m listening! You have my full attention. Anything with a plug socket and I am wide-eyed and shutting out the rest of the world. In my house anything with a charger is key – electric toothbrush, electric razor, hair straighteners, you get my drift.
So it was ironically with some reluctance that I embraced the e-reader market. Initially I thought it was a fad; like pagers something that a small minority used. I then thought it would die out like mini discs (do you remember those?!) or the fax machine. Even Apple could not make a fax machine something of wonder! I told myself that only commuters used e-readers; people on planes and trains all the time – a different week, a different continent.
Then as always happens with me, I suddenly had a mad hankering to have an e-reader then and there, on a Sunday afternoon, when I had to virtually leg it to Waterstones before they closed. (Yes I know I am sad!) I did this, all red and out of breath to realise it was 4pm and not 4.30pm that they closed. I then spent the rest of Sunday night frustrating myself in that way you do when something good doesn’t arrive.
Part of my reticence in buying an e-reader was in part because I generally find myself in a position of having to justify all these not so inconsequential purchases. I had previously bought a Kindle Fire – this is great, I thought. I can pick up emails, surf, play games on this thing, and read books but with a cover in colour. Why would I want a black and white thing? Backwards technology! Ten minutes was all the time it took to dissuade me from this. I settled down to my first eBook to find beep, beep – new email, beep, beep – new software update, beep, beep, well, you get my drift. So in an hour I read not a single paragraph. Suddenly the black and white e-readers made sense – no distractions!
So I chose a Kindle Paperwhite and very soon realised I was hooked! A while ago people bemoaned e-readers; they would kill the printed book, everyone said. But what everyone forgot was this new technology suddenly made reading all that more accessible. Consider this; you have a flight the next day and need a good book for the journey. It just so happens you have been reading what in your opinion is probably the best book of the year. You finish this book two days before you go away. You feel bereft; no other book is as good. You ditch a few, then settle on one. This is the book you take away. But it’s a big, heavy book. You lug it end to end around Gatwick, before finally finding your seat on the plane. You start to read, but quickly realise you are distracted by your surroundings and it turns out the book really isn’t that good. You struggle on, but it’s no good. You put the book down and now have to amuse yourself for the rest of the flight. It’s the same issue flying back.
OK, now replay that. Your e-reader sits small and light in a pocket of your bag taking up very little weight. You walk comfortably around Gatwick without the hang luggage digging into your shoulder. The pages when you get on the plane are not bent over, the bookmark has not gone astray. You start reading. The eBook is all wrong. No matter, you scroll to the next one in your library. I think that’s 1-0 to e-readers!
I think where e-readers get it so right is reading a good story is so much more accessible now. You don’t have to take a trip into town or wait for Amazon to deliver, you can have it now and now is what we want. I used to go into the book shops and spend quite a bit of my salary each month on books; drawn in by their enticing covers. I made a deal with myself; I had to read the first page. If I turned over to page 2 and was still interested, the book went home with me. Some money was saved, but that didn’t starve off my disappointment when a book failed to deliver past page 2. With so many fantastic books to read, I have no patience for books that do not hook me and continue to do so until the final page. Ordering on Amazon was cheaper – £3.99 for the average paperback rather than £7.99 in the book shop. But now with e-readers this again is so easy. You can download what typically comes out at around the first three chapters of a book for free and then if it’s not enjoyable, you can delete. No money wasted, no trips to the charity shop with a bag of books, no bulky delivery packaging to dispose of. If the book does pass muster then an easy download and you can carry on reading in minutes!
Other perks? Well, for one thing your hand doesn’t ache holding it (I recommend the Kindle Oasis!), which is always good. A while ago I remember the local bookshop having a Top 100 Books 3for2 promotion. I splurged but only noticed on my return home that one of the books had the tiniest font size, it was not comfortable to read. I can comfortably read without my glasses, so this was saying something! On an e-reader you can make the font bigger or smaller to suit.
Another advantage? Based on your reading speed the e-reader tells you how long you have left in a chapter. Always good for stopping at a natural break. Something else I love is vague references and languages. With a printed book if you don’t understand a word you have to hunt out your dictionary or ask Google. On an e-reader you click on the word and up comes a quick definition. A military reference confuses you for example, e-reader can help you. A word in another language? Yep, you guessed it. Sorry Google Translate; you are not needed! Unfortunately I do now find myself flicking through a magazine and clicking on a word I don’t understand expecting a handy definition to pop up, so shows how engrained and automatic this is for me now!
I have also found that the e-reader has made my tastes change. Before I played it safe; a psychological thriller, a travel journal etc. Now I try most genres without a thought.
However, some things don’t change. Whilst I no longer have a physical stack of books in the corner of my room, I do have around 300 titles on my Kindle e-reader. This list is only growing by the day!