I’ve had my Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300 for over six months now and thought it would be interesting to put together my thoughts on it and how it has affected my reading. I had resisted buying an e-reader for a long time because I felt guilty about doing anything that might contribute to the decline of the physical book. However, I certainly don’t seem to have acquired or read less ‘real’ books since I got my e-reader. I see it as another way to read books in addition to reading physical books, rather than instead of.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of owning an e-reader. Can you think of any more?
* They help you to save space on your bookshelves. You can store hundreds of books on an e-reader. Imagine how much shelf space they would take up!
* You can carry an ereader around with you very easily. They’re small (particularly the pocket version that I have) and weigh very little. This makes them perfect to take to work or on holiday or just in case an unexpected opportunity to read arises (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ended up sitting in the car waiting for somebody, for example, and wishing I’d brought a book with me. Now I just take my reader with me when I go out in the car). And with hundreds of books stored on your reader you’ll always have plenty of choice.
* There are literally thousands of free classics and out of print books available to download online from sites such as Project Gutenberg and Girlebooks. This was one of the main reasons I originally wanted an e-reader. Having an e-reader suddenly opens up a whole world of obscure and hard to find books and the choice is overwhelming. I actually haven’t downloaded as many free classics as I thought I would simply because there’s so much choice, if that makes any sense!
* You can use Netgalley to request review copies from publishers in ebook format. I haven’t used this very often as I’m very selective about requesting books for review. It’s nice to know the option is there though, and I’ve enjoyed the few books that I have read though Netgalley.
* My local library has started offering ebooks for download. I’d be interested to know what librarians think about this service. Are we facing a future where everyone sits at home downloading library books and never actually visits the library in person? I can see good and bad points about this system, but so far it seems to be a very popular service. You have to keep the book on loan for a fixed period (you can choose either 7, 14, 21 or 28 days). After the loan period is up, the book automatically expires and can no longer be read. This is good in one way as it means you’ll never ‘forget to take the book back to the library’ and accrue an overdue fine, but it also means that you can’t return the book any sooner if you don’t like it or finish it earlier than expected.
* Most ereaders have some extra features. Mine doesn’t have many (it wasn’t really something that concerned me when I was choosing my reader as I just wanted something basic and easy to use). It is useful sometimes to be able to change the text size, though, and I like being able to bookmark pages with memorable quotes on them.
* Having an e-reader gives you instant access to books, without even having to wait for delivery. Find a book that you want online and you can start reading it in just a few minutes.
* Although e-readers themselves have come down in price recently and are much more affordable now, in general the prices of ebooks are still usually more expensive than paper books. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth paying more for the same book or not.
* I find it hard to tell how long the ebook is going to be. Yes, it tells you how many pages there are, but the page count is usually different to the physical book and I find it difficult to visualise just from a page number how thick the book would be.
* You can’t flip back and forth in the book easily. Sometimes I like to be able to skip back a few pages, to remind myself of who a character is, for example, or to skip forwards to see how many more pages there are in the chapter. Then there are the books that have family trees or maps at the beginning or a glossary at the end. It is possible to move backwards and forwards through the book with my Sony Reader but it’s not very convenient and you really need to know the page number you’re looking for. Maybe this is easier with a different type of e-reader?
* The battery needs to be recharged regularly and once or twice the whole thing has frozen and I had to press the reset button. At least with a paper book there’s no chance of malfunctions, battery running down etc.
* Finally, in my opinion nothing beats reading and owning a real, physical book. With the e-reader you don’t get the beautiful front covers and spines to display on your shelves. You don’t get the feel of the book in your hands. And you don’t get the memories. I’m sure most of us have a favourite torn, battered old book that reminds us of our childhood!
Do you have an e-reader? What do you like and dislike about it? If you don’t have one, would you ever consider buying one?