Let me start this post by saying that, like Holly, who wrote the introduction to this series, I, too, have always considered myself to be a book purist. I own over a thousand physical titles (yes, I know I have a problem) and occasionally I’ll rearrange them when I get tired of the current organization. (It’s currently alphabetical by author’s last name by genre. I have weird hobbies.) I love the feeling of a book in my hands. I love flipping through the pages. I love when I can find a quote I loved just by a vague memory of how early it was in the book and the location of the text on the page. And as you might be able to tell, I’m something of a book hoarder - sometimes I’ll just HAVE to own a book, even if I know I won’t actually read it for a long time, if ever, or if I’ll only every read it once.
I remember when I first heard about e-readers. Ugh, no, I thought. Who wants to read on a screen? Over the next several years, my opinions never changed. Why would I need a screen to read on when I already had an obviously superior print collection at home and an endless supply of more from the fantastic Seattle Public Library?
But then, in July 2013, I left Seattle to spend five weeks in Paris, participating in a homestay program and attending a few classes. While I knew I’d make friends through the program, I was going alone, and, knowing that I’d have plenty of hours spent on the planes and metro rides around the city, I brought with me a hefty stack of books.
It wasn’t a mistake - if anything, travel time ended up being even more than what I’d estimated, and I ran through my entire stack as well as a couple French novels I bought while I was there. But knowing that I’d successfully read all those books didn’t make them any less heavy when I was dragging them through the airport.
I got all my books home - barely. But after that trip, I went over my other travel experiences in my mind, and realized that I am ALWAYS that person with the giant, overflowing carryon who boards the plane sweaty from lugging everything across the airport. And usually, it was because I had a bag full of books. Maybe it was time to rethink this model. Maybe it was time to get a Kindle.
Once the idea entered my head, it didn’t leave, and I slowly grew more receptive to the idea of embracing my mortal enemy. I did a lot of research, and finally settled on the Kindle Paperwhite.
There were a few things I loved about my kindle right away, solely based on the fact that I was still in college when I got it. First, although I had grown up reading before bed, I had a roommate in college who always went to bed before me. With my Paperwhite’s built-in frontlighting, I was able to read before I went to sleep again. Also, in case some people are wondering, I’ve never had an issue with my eyes and the Paperwhite’s lighting - the frontlight technology works perfectly. Second, as an English major, I read a lot of classics, and while I’d always buy the print versions for class, I took to downloading the (often free) e-books as well, so that I didn’t have to lug the print copies around campus and could get some reading done before bed.
But there was one other benefit I noticed only after I was a few months (and a few books) into ownership. The first few books I read on my Kindle weren’t small - I started with Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and continued with Hilary Mantel’s enormous 15th century epic, Wolf Hall. I don’t know if anybody else has this problem, but sometimes if I’m reading a bigger book, especially if it’s a little dense, I just get stuck in the middle. Even if I’m enjoying it. It might be something about the visual of being only so far through a tome and the knowledge of how far I have to go before I reach the end. Whatever it is, I started to notice that reading on a Kindle got rid of that problem for me. Even the 500+ pages of Wolf Hall seemed to fly by.
Having noticed that, I was sold. I love my Kindle for its lightweight design, huge storage space, and unlimited access - and I also like how I read on my Kindle.
This isn’t to say that I’m totally converted. Nothing’s going to replace print books for me; I love them just a little bit too much. You can’t rifle through pages or mark a spot with your thumb on a Kindle. But I’m not against admitting that my Kindle has augmented my reading for the better. So, while I’m never going to switch entirely over, I will welcome my Kindle as a tool in my reading arsenal.
Agree? Disagree? Do you read everything on your e-reader or shun anything but paper and ink? On the fence or thinking about converting to the electronic word? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or by emailing me at email@example.com!
Editor’s Notes: The Kindle or Kindling: An Introduction post from guest blogger Holly can be found here, and Social Media Manager Clare Dugmore’s Kindle or Kindling post can be found here.