I was pretty set against eBooks when they were first going mainstream a few years back. I’d been clinging to paper since I can first remember, with some of my best memories being late night reads with a musty-smelling paperback or hardcover at my knees. The smell. The feel. The sound of pages turning. I thought such things couldn’t be replaced by electronic devices.
My home is decorated with books. A whole wall is bookshelves. I have boxes of books that still hide away in my parents basement because I have no room to store them in my tiny home. I love books. But once I started commuting regularly by train, I discovered their limits. It isn’t easy reading a book with one hand, especially when the other hand is keeping you from falling ten feet across a crowded subway car.
So I got a Kindle. And now, I couldn’t imagine not having one. I can do several things with the Kindle that I can’t do with a normal book—or at least, can’t do as easily. 1) I can hide what I am reading. No one has to know what trashy fantasy novel or space opera I am reading, or if I decide to read something controversial, I don’t have to hide the cover from wandering eyes. Yes, shallow of me, but that’s how it is. 2) I can read one-handed. This became especially helpful when I had to wear a cast on my left arm over the summer. 3) I carry a small library within the reader. I can go away on vacation and only pack the kindle and still have a number of books to read. Or, I can always have my favorite books with me if I feel inclined to read one of my most loved passages. I wonder if I am the only one who really does that. . .
I’m not sold on back-lit readers, however. They hurt my eyes, and my eyes suck. I have a hard time driving at night because headlights from incoming cars cause my eyes to water and hurt. Doesn’t feel very good to stare at back-lit stuff. My eyes tend to cloud over when I do. Can’t stand staring at computer screens for a long time, even though work requires it. Nice to rest those eyes sometimes, and eInk is nearly as good as real ink on paper. Especially when not back-lit.
I still buy real paper, but save it for when I find a book I want to live permanently on my shelf. This all will/does probably make me sound really pretentious. Oh well.