In the years since they’ve been available, I’ve heard some pretty heated debates over the advantages and disadvantages of e-readers. It became such a divisive issue that I quickly placed it after politics and religion on the list of taboo party topics. For the most part, I favored the traditional format, citing the free marketplace and familiar feeling of a printed book. As more of my friends (and strangers on the bus) seemed to be embracing digital formats, however, I considered tearing away from my trusted paper friends.
Fast-forward a few years, and there I sit on the bus totally lost in an e-book. Friends on the fence have grilled me about whether e-readers are worth the money, so I thought I would share the considerations that turned me from a bound-book traditionalist into an avid e-reader.
- A 1,000-page book that goes places. Perhaps the most obvious perk of e-readers is their compact size. Of course, not every book is 1,000 pages, but I’m no stranger to deciding between whether I pack my lunch for the day or carry my reading material. No longer are my mornings plagued by what I can fit in my bag.
- Books on demand. Although I miss going to bookstores to browse the fancy art books, I don’t miss trying to hunt down a specific title. Now, as long as I’m willing to buy an available book, I can go from browsing to reading in less than a minute.
- Easy on the eyes. I have uncooperative eyes. Even though I wear glasses, my prescription changes drastically with fatigue. Being able to change the lighting and size of the text on my screen keeps me comfortable reading at any time of day.
- Vocabulary builder. Growing up, my parents refused to tell me the meaning of any word that was beyond my comprehension. “Go look it up,” was the standard response. E-readers cut out the middleman by providing a definition with one click. Better yet, all words that I “look up” are recorded on a list that I can reference and quiz myself on later.
- Book budget? What’s that? I’ve always been a binge reader. As soon as I get my hands on a book or series that I’ve wanted to read, it doesn’t last me more than two days. In the past, however, my reading was limited to what I – or a friend – had on hand. Now, for the sake of my bank account, I try to make books last at least a week.
- E-book free to a good home. Not being able to give books away is my least favorite part of being a member of the e-book club. I’ve never liked overloading my shelves, so I’m thrilled when I can send a good book home with a well-matched reader. Some e-book programs let you loan books to friends, but they have enough restrictions that I haven’t found them useful. I’m hoping that the e-book marketplace will open up soon to compensate for these less-than-tangible purchases.
- Libraries need to catch up. My reading wish list may not jive well with the Chicago Public Library, but it seems that every book I want to check out is 30 people deep in the hold list. I once tried placing a book on hold, and, when the book became available to me two months later, I received error messages with every download attempt. I have successfully checked out one other book, but the software seems to have a long way to go before I’d call it user-friendly.
Do you use an e-reader? Let us know why – or why not – in the comments below.