On Test-Driving an E-Reader

When e-readers started becoming more and more popular, I never once felt tempted to get one myself. I am very attached to actual books and carry them with me everywhere and often they look the part (which I like). They look pretty, they feel great and they are never out of batteries. An e-reader, I thought, looked like a giant calculator, you could never guess what anyone was reading on the commute and what was I to put on my shelf afterwards? Also, no one I knew owned an e-reader so I continued to think their screens were like those of computers, which give me bad headaches and generally put me in work-mode.

Then my dad called and told me he was now the proud owner of an amazon kindle! My dad, who only reads the newspapers and thermodynamics III.4 and who I have never known to really read a book! So what was he using the thing for I asked, you guessed it, the papers in e-format. Did I want one? God no, I hate those things, I read ‘real’ books!

And then I went home for my one-week break and my dad showed off his new gadget and to humor him I downloaded a free e-book and started reading. I finished the first book the next day and now my dad is worried I’ll smuggle his kindle into my trunk when I leave.

The screen really is nothing like that of a computer, I can set the type to an actually comfortable size (which means gigantic for everyone by the nearly blind (= me), and tons of free e-books! A week is not enough to read a huge amount of books if you don’t read super fast and are out and about all the time but so far I’ve read a super cosy mystery, Daddy-Long-Legs and some Wilkie Collins. I’m so excited that using an e-reader means I can read lots of Collins in one sitting. I know I’m fussy when it comes to type size but publishers seem intent on using tiny ones for the classics and I can really feel my eyes growing tired while reading them. And that means reading loads of amazing books for free! Here’s what I downloaded (for everyone who loves lists), just because, not that I’ll get to them any time soon:

The Red House Mystery (A. A. Milne) – read

The Shuttle (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

The Third Miss Symons (F. M. Mayor)

Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster) – read

Consequences (E. M. Delafield)

The Leavenworth Case (Anna Katherine Green)

New Grub Street (George Gissing)

No Name (Wilkie Collins) – currently reading

Fidelity (Susan Glaspell)

There are some things though that make me hesitate getting an e-reader myself. Why is the background of the kindle so grey-ish? I find that not too great for reading in anything but broad daylight and I have yet to find a button that switches on a light. Do you have to get an extra thing for that? And then, I don’t see myself ever paying for an e-book. I’d always go for the ‘real’ book and I know there are lots of free e-books but what if I run out? Probably everyone gets addicted in the process and that’s not a concern? 😉 I found myself missing the feel of a book and the sound of a page turning so I’m reading two ‘real’ books, too. I’ll probably be debating getting an e-reader for my birthday or not in the next couple of months, so if you want to help me decide, you have till the end of October to convince me!

I’m probably at least one year late with this post but now I’ve joined the 21st century! 😉

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28 thoughts on “On Test-Driving an E-Reader

  1. So glad to see you converted 😉 I was like you, didn’t see the point until I realized how good it would be for travel. So got one (as a gift). LOVE it. Well, not as a replacement but as a companion to real books, both are definitely fantastic and go well together. There is no light though the new covers often have lights.

    1. It’s really perfect for you since you travel so much and read so quickly! 🙂 I have to look at the options for light and compare the backgrounds with other ereaders but I guess I really am converted 😀

  2. I’ve just been going through the same thing in the last week. After years of shunning the e-reader, a friend lent me her kindle while I traveled this past weekend. While I’ll never give up my shelves of books, I really liked the reader. The reading itself was so much more page-like and comfortable than I had expected. I didn’t know the screen wasn’t an LCD computer screen, which is so awful for my eyes (like the 8 hours of work computer a day isn’t enough?). I’m getting a Kindle for Christmas.

    1. Good for you! 🙂 I had the same problem with the pc screen but i really needed to try the kidle to see how different that screen is. I might wish for one for Christmas as well 🙂

  3. if it was white it would probably cause some eye strain of course e-ink tech is getting better and better. atm it only has 16 shades of grey so expect more in the future + colour which means better contrast. For a light you can buy a Kindle cover with a built-in light but tbh a cheap book light works a treat.

  4. I can’t wait to hear what you think of Red House Mystery and Daddy-Long-Legs! No Names is also excellent. And Consequences! If I had an e-reader, this is the exact kind of book I’d use it for as well 😛

    1. Heh, loved ’em! Now I just have to get the print editions for my home library 🙂 I didn’t manage to finish No Name at my parents so now I have to read the second half in print (OUP), hope the print is not tiny because that book is as you said, excellent!

  5. It looks quite good and free books are always excellent! (I’m itching to read No Name too. I bought it ages ago but still haven’t gotten around to it.). I think I’ve been slowly swayed to e-readers over the last few years but particularly after I saw the iBook on the iPad which I think looks quite amazing. The Kindle sounds quite good too but I think a lot of the stuff aren’t actually available in Australia which is a little silly. Why are there so many keys down the bottom?
    But I did wish I had an e-reader while I was travelling just so I could have more room to buy new books!

    1. You need to get to No Name soon, I love that Collins could produce chunksters that are page-turners! 🙂

      I’m quite oppsed to the whole apple empire so no ireader ;D The kindle wasn’t available here until recently either I think, you’d think they would want everyone’s money, go figure! The keys are to type 😀 There’s no touch screen and so you have to use the keys. I really don’t mind them, the screen is large enough. An ereader for travelling is really ideal, perhaps you can find another ereader in Australia or ship it? At least most classics are available as free ebooks everywhere 🙂

  6. You know I’m a convert already- there is a lot of free content out there, plus with Kobo discounts etc, you can pay around about a third of the price of a regular book. I am a little concerned though about rain with mine, so I’ll read paper books on the train if it’s going to be wet. Plus I’d never read an ereader in the bath! I love my Sony though – very easy to hide new purchases! (Unlike my recent Borders hauls).

    1. Yeah, I was wondering about how rain and sand and other damage. I only used it at home but at least with a hard cover it won’t break first thing in my bag. I’ll have to take a look at the sony ereader, unfortunately I dont know anyone here who has one. How grey is the background? 🙂

        1. Ah, you do make me consider getting an ereader 😀 I’m sure the background will get better with newer versions. But your sony looks great 🙂

  7. Glad to know that you are loving the Kindle, Bina 🙂 Your dad should really be worried 🙂 I had long discussions with one of my friends sometime back about the Kindle, when I was exploring whether it was a good idea or not. I learnt at that time that the Kindle doesn’t have a background light and that is what makes it similar to a normal book. Then one of my friends who was visiting showed me his iPad and it looked awesome! The iPad, of course, has background light and the awesome screen is something to die for. But if one looks at it from another perspective, it is another kind of computer, though a thinner one. I am still not convinced about using e-readers for regular reading – I would miss the actual feel of the book, the fragrance of the paper, the way I can highlight my favourite sentences, the rustle of paper when I turn the pages, the different sizes (regular paperback, trade paperback), the surprises which are in store with respect to the font. I think I am still old-fashioned. But I think an e-reader is wonderful if one travels quite a bit. One can carry hundreds (or thousands) of books in it which frees up space in one’s luggage and one has a great choice of reading material. But if one doesn’t travel that much, I think the regular paper book has its charms.

    I can’t wait to read your review of ‘The Red House Mystery’! I want to read ‘Daddy Long Legs’ – I have it on my ‘TBR’ list. ‘No Name’ is an interesting title!

    1. I’m such a good daughter, I left him his kindle! 😀 My dad also explained to me how the reader works and why the screen is so different, always happy to have a technically-inclined person in the family 🙂 I really can’t stand the apple empire so no ireader for me 😉 But I’m jealous of people who can read for hours from such a screen without getting headaches! 🙂
      I did miss the actual feel of a book and would probably only use the ereader for those free ebooks and for classics until publishers can be convinced to use decent print size for those. That’s why I’m debating getting one, still not sure. I’d recommend test-driving the ereader of a friend 🙂 That way you’ll know of you can stand reading without a real book.
      No Name is pretty fantastic, Collins really produced chunksters that are page-turners!

  8. I had a e reader til it broke ,not sure if I ll get another just yet I m definatelt a paper man ,but was using it at work on nights were it was handy ,all the best stu

  9. I’m like you at the verge of getting one and waking up everyday changing my mind about it. I like paper books and I get them cheaper than ebooks. I also read a lot from libraries and I could give it away. I suppose one thing that is stopping me is the costs of buying ebooks. Whereas with paperbooks I’m able to get it for free or cheaper. but welcome to the 21st century! 😉

    1. Well, you do have the advantage of reading in the language of the country you are living in 😀 I could get tons of cheap German books here but English is another matter. I like the ereader for letting me make the type bigger and for those free classics, but of course if you can get those very cheap that’s not important to you. I actually can’t imagine paying for an ebook, I want to see and feel what I paid for 😀
      I’ll have to think more on this, like you I change my mind daily 🙂

  10. I am very conservative when it comes to books, I like to feel the paper between my fingers when I read. However, if it might stop you from going blind, you should definitely ask for an e-reader as a birthday or Christmas present. Actually I am a bit surprised you resisted the temptation and left the kindle at your parents’ hause.;-)

    1. Heh, you should probably stop reading super small type as well 😉 I just love that I can enlarge the type, especially for long evenings of reading.Yeah, I wouldn’t want to pay for an ebook and then not having the book to put on my shelf 😀
      I’m such a great daughter, leaving that Kindle 😉 I will probably borrow it next time I’m home though.

    1. Heh, you’ll probably convert soon, too! 😉 The iPad does look very shiny, but it does have the normal non-reading friendly screen.

  11. I use it for those kinds of books. Especially the versions available through girlebooks are fabulous! I was like you and had my doubts about ereaders, but I find them quite handy now.

    1. I’ll have to take a look at girlebooks. I’m still debating whether to get an ereader but I would use it like you and take advantage of those amazing free ebooks 🙂

  12. I can never see myself buying e-books either. I use my iPad to download and read classics, and also e-books that authors send me for review. The display is surprisingly nice though.

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