On eReaders

nookAfter my work gave me a Nook Simple Touch (created by Barnes & Noble) to play about with, I read The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. It was my first experience of reading an eBook in its entirety and I thought it high time that I consider ereaders properly and what my experience on using them were. It is a completely different experience – I’ll admit that I have been slightly against them, always favouring physical books.

There were a few things which I didn’t particularly like – the fact that I can’t flick through the pages to see how long the chapter is; the glare that you get when reading it next to a lamp or something like that; the worry that you’ll run out of battery; I find the buttons on the Nook can be a bit stiff when you’re flicking back and forward; and I kept finding that if something landed on the screen it was really sensitive, and pages would flick back and forth if I tried to wipe something off. The Nook also doesn’t lend itself very well to reading PDF or Word documents, something I find a bit frustrating as it would be quite useful for work to read manuscripts before publication.

Saying all that, I did enjoy some aspects of it – it’s light, fairly user-friendly and I do like having a reading light on it. It is so easy to download loads of books – there is a whole library at your fingertips and if you fancy reading something, it only takes a few minutes to download. Recently, Barnes & Noble had a 3-day 99p sale and I went on a bit of a binge, splurging on books that are currently out in hardback and that I was loath to buy because of that. I bought several books:

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes

I had the same rush and excitement I got from buying physical books but I can’t help but think that flash sales like that do devalue the book as an object somewhat – and yet, I succumbed. It is hard to resist a book at the best of times, even more so when it is so cheap. If I had the physical copy of a book in my flat, I doubt very much that I’d read it on an ereader. I find I read slowly on the Nook and I get the sense that I’m reading this never-ending document. There were also character errors and typos in my copy of The Best of Everything and I just find it all a bit impersonal if that makes any sense. Cold, almost, as if the book has been robbed of its casing and all that’s left is its naked soul. I miss that feeling of contentment when you look at a book on your shelf and you start thinking about it all over again, or pick it up and flick through it to read that passage that you really liked. I am definitely a bibliophile! They are definitely different beasts, ebooks and physical books but I understand the benefits of both. I will be reading on my Nook from time to time, especially the books I bought in the sale, but I wouldn’t consider myself a convert yet, even if books do seem to be filling up my shelves rather rapidly…


Filed under Literary musings

4 responses to “On eReaders

  1. I have a kindle, I use it a fair bit and find it very useful – and I do like it – but I don’t love it as much as some people seem to love them, and I think that now the novelty of it has worn off I like it less than I used to. I much prefer physical books and I always will.

    • I am the same – will definitely always prefer physical books. That said, there is no doubting the convenience of ebooks but there’s nothing quite like browsing in a bookshop to give you reading inspiration.

  2. Typos are a real issue in my experience. Even major pubilshers often just don’t seem to take the care they should. Of course, the hardcopy Hemingways I have are riddled with errors so it’s not only the ebook where that can be an issue.

    I found my kindle a godsend for travelling. I did a three week holiday in China with my wife, hand luggage only, and without the kindle I’d have been stuck as we didn’t have room to pack much by way of reading.

    For me the first half hour’s reading felt odd, and after that it felt natural. I do miss not being able to physically see how many pages are left as you say, and I also miss being able to quickly flick back multiple pages, but generally I prefer my kindle now to hardcopy books.

    Interesting times.

    • It does seem strange that there is talk of booklovers being ‘converted’ to ebooks. They are very convenient – I am travelling next week and plan to take my Nook. There are three books on there ready to go and if I run out I have thousands more at my fingertips. It does take some getting used to, and I would still prefer the hardcopy but I feel that they complement each other, as I also read (listen to) audiobooks. More ways to read and more accessibility cannot be a bad thing – a conversation that I’m sure will go on for much time to come!

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