My love affair with digital books began in May 2012, when I bought the final installment in Michael Scott’s The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, The Enchantress.
Shocked and disappointed that I couldn’t find the book at my local shopping center - which is home to over 250 shops, a cinema, a food hall including various fast food restaurants, and has a parking capacity of 10,000 spaces - with two large book retail chains and two supermarket chains, I returned home intending to order it online, and found the Kindle version was cheaper.
Never again would I need to worry about different release dates, not being able to get to the shopping center, books being out of stock, or dodgy delivery times. I could have any book I wanted, whenever I wanted, with just a few taps on my screen.
I downloaded The Enchantress to my tablet, enjoyed it immensely, and that’s when I started to discover all the other fantastic benefits of digital books.
While reading, I came across the word chitin - I’d never heard of it before, and curious I highlighted the word, intending to copy it into my web browser. As I copied it, something amazing happened. Up popped a little bubble entitled New Oxford American Dictionary, and gave me the following definition:
chi·tin n. [BIOCHEMISTRY] a fibrous substance consisting of polysaccharides and forming the major constituent in the exoskeleton of arthropods and the cell walls of fungi. chi·tin·ous adj. mid 19th cent.: from French chitine, formed irregularly from Greek (see CHITON).
I was in awe. Rather than having to open up my browser, or log onto a computer, with the inbuilt features of my Kindle application, my tablet could give me the definition of a word as I read the story.
Later on, I was introduced to the character Xolotl. Interested in the mythology behind the name, I highlighted it. Sadly this time my dictionary had no definition. But, after clicking on the “more” option, I was able to open my browser - from within the Kindle app - and go straight to Wikipedia, where I discovered that in Aztec mythology, Xolotl was the god with associations to both lightning and death.
Information about character mythology at the tip of my fingers. Never again would I have to be pulled out of a story to look up some details, or try and remember a name once I’d finished the book.
Having a two children, I enjoy many other advantages of digital books. I can read without them ripping the book or turning the pages, and with an added screen protector, it’s safe from sticky fingers.
I can also “close” my book with a moment’s notice, and not have to worry about losing bookmarks, or them falling out and my page being lost. With inbuilt bookmarks, and a tap of my finger, a page could be “bookmarked” so I can pick up where I left off. Even more impressively, I can have multiple bookmarks, so I can remember pages with passages or parts that interested me, and share them with my friends.
The back-lighting on my tablet also means I can read in bed, in the dark, without the need for a lamp - something my hubby appreciates (when he isn’t reading The Walking Dead comics on his own tablet!)
I’ve found since having the Kindle app, I read more books, because digital books feel more accessible to me. I certainly can’t go to the book store in the middle of the night when I have insomnia, or walk around Waterstones in my pyjamas. I can, however, browse the Kindle marketplace both at 2 a.m. and in the nude if I choose.
Not only that, if a book looks interesting but I haven’t quite made up my mind about it, I can scroll down the page, and read reviews by others who have read the book. I can even download a sample of the book (how much of a sample varies from author to author) free of charge.
The variety of digital books compared to paper books seems a lot more too, as many independent authors are self-publishing exclusively as e-books. Some are even free, or cost less than £1. While people may argue the quality of an e-book that costs nothing, I won’t. I’m not going to gripe over a few typos if I didn’t pay for it, and the story keeps me entertained for the weekend.
There’s physical storage advantages to digital books too. I live in an apartment, with very limited space and two children who have a lot of toys. My beloved books now take priority behind school gym kits, racetracks, play-sets, action figures and countless other things. My bookshelf finally gave up the ghost when we redecorated the lounge, and my paperbacks had to be re-homed in a cupboard upstairs. With digital books, your only limit is your memory card, and with external cards and hard drives, that amount can be increased at any time. Plus you don’t have to worry about damage from dust, damp or booklouse who love to burrow into you books, and eat it from the inside! With digital books, if you’re unlucky enough to loose or damage your memory card, you can just download a book again. Once you’ve bought it from Amazon, it’s yours for life.
It makes traveling with books easier too. I currently have a Kindle app on my desktop computer, my laptop, and my tablet. If I wanted to, I could also install the Kindle app on a computer at a friend or relatives’ house, and access my library there. I can take my whole book collection with me, where ever I go.
People have said digital books “ruin” the experience of reading, but for me their invention has actually heightened it.
When it came to weighing in on the Kindle or Kindling debate here at CQ, I thought re-reading this article was the best place to start. As it turns out, even after two years, my reasons for loving eReaders and eBooks are still the same, so I updated it to reflect my feelings in 2014.
Editor’s Notes: The Kindle or Kindling: An Introduction post from guest blogger Holly can be found here, and tomorrow, we’ll be sharing a Kindle or Kindling Post from marketing team member Natalie Schermer.