My definitive opinion on e-readers

I recently met with a dear friend who works at a bookstore and she asked me, as a writer, how I like my Kindle. She said their customers ask about e-readers all the time, and since she doesn’t have one, she’s not exactly sure how to answer.

Here’s my answer – and I know it is bound to anger some people. If so, please let me know in the comments. 🙂 

If you truly love reading, then there is no reason NOT to have an e-reader. 

I know there’s the argument about the experience and feel of a hardbound book, but that’s not all that reading is. Since I received my Kindle last Christmas, I have read more books in one year than I ever have — free, discounted, full priced and everything in between. But the cost here isn’t the issue (especially with the basic Kindle at $80). It is the ease, the accessibility and the sheer volume of material you can carry and absorb at one time. That is what an e-reader is.

And to be clear — I read the SAME amount of printed books as I have in the past. The extra e-books I’ve read are above and beyond. And I’ve been able to read more spectacular books than I thought possible. It is about the story. The content. The words on the page. It doesn’t matter if it is ink or e-ink or a tablet screen.

I’m not arguing the end of printed books or that you should stop buying printed books. I’m arguing that the argument for not wanting an e-reader because of the “experience” of reading a book is bogus. If that is your only argument, then you’re not a true lover of the written word.

I could go on and on about the other benefits (namely, saving bookshelf space) of e-readers, but I’ll leave that for another discussion.

Now, let’s go. Tell me what you think. 🙂

More about Nicole

Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks

  • I have a Touchpad with the Kindle app and (at the moment) have about eight books downloaded. (I’ve been kind of choosy.) But I enjoy the experience.

    However, If I can get it from the library, I like to read a print book because I can haul it with me anywhere (even while I’m cooking) and pick it up to read snatches during the time it takes to sit at a red light–no turning on and off and waiting.

    I do like the fact I can turn e-pages without moving more than a finger. 🙂

  • In regards to content, I absolutely agree with you. There is no beating an e-reader. It is all there at your fingertips. And, as you point out, you can discover books you might not otherwise come across. I still prefer printed books for a number of reasons (most of those I won’t bore you with!) The main reason that came to mind while reading your post is the physical exploration of bookstores. For me, books (and bookstores) are therapeutic. When I need to de-stress or zone out, I go to my local bookstore and browse the aisles. I like looking at the cover art, pulling out books with my hands and flipping through the pages. It, too, is an experience in discovery. I’ll come across books I would never look for ordinarily. Physically walking through the aisles is a new adventure each time. For me, my connection with books is a tactile one. I like feeling the weight of them, smelling the ‘new’ inked pages. Yeah, it is all aesthetics and ‘romantic’ – hardly practical – but it IS therapeutic. And I can’t get that same experience from an e-reader.

    To me, I find the differences between printed books and e-readers to be a good thing. Each medium offers the reader choices. The more choices there are, the better for the reader, in my opinion. I find the ‘war’ between print and digital enthusiasts to be somewhat off-center and bemusing. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the variety of forms – and thus, the new and diversified and more numerous ways – that people can encounter the reading experience? If one prefers the accessibility and ease of e-readers, there is now a bevy of options to satisfy that preference. For those that prefer printed books, bookstores nationwide offer their shelves to fulfill that desire. I don’t believe printed books will ‘die away’. People have said that about radio, cinema, television, etc with each new technological advancement. Those mediums are still with us. Readers need to embrace both mediums and appreciate what they offer to the salted reader and the newbie (esp. the techno generation who might not otherwise pick up a book). As you say, lovers of the written word ought to rejoice – and work together, rather than fight over differences.

  • Heather – I love what you bring up about bookstores as therapy (and relatively cheap therapy!) I completely agree. I still do this regularly. And I honestly still buy as many books from mortar-and-brick stores as I used to. This is a new medium in the same way that digital music/iPods revolutionized the music industry and never put CDs “out of business.” Yes, things changed in the industry, and there are a lot of changes ahead for the publishing world.

    One friend of mine said that her son was hesitant to read big, thick books, but once he got a Kindle, he’d devour books that would be far to “thick” in hand, but in a digital format was less daunting. I agree that this war needs to stop and we all need to embrace the changes ahead! This is such an exciting time – the new “transmedia” possibilities and interactive books. As an author and reader, I’m just thrilled to see what happens next!