Random Thoughts: My eReaders

As anyone who has visited my site knows, I am a huge proponent of the eReader. I’ve rambled on endlessly in an article or two… or more… about the merits of electronic readers and mention my eBooks whenever I get a chance. I’ve even written a two thousand word post, extolling the virtues of the various forms of electronic readers, which I decided was way too over the top and have just left it in drafts for a few months.

But instead of analyzing eReaders, I thought I’d talk about mine. If someone wants to know more about the pros and cons of each device in mind-numbing detail, Gizmodo or other tech site is the place to go. I may have tech, but am no techie. Nope. I’m just a reader.

So, I have quite a few ways in which I can read my eBooks. I have the first edition Kindle, which I’ve finally given a well-deserved retirement after two-and-a-half faithful years of service. I would probably still be using it today, but for the fact that someone got me the newest Kindle and for the fact that I kept having to replace those non-rechargeable batteries.

I also have the Kindle DX, which was also a gift, but I hardly use it because it’s quite heavy and does not travel well. I think I’d need a backpack to carry it around with me. Plus, there is so much content that fits on each page, I feel slightly overwhelmed psychologically when approaching a book, even though I know there are far fewer page turns involved in reaching the end.

Another device, which works in a pinch, is my iPad first edition. It was my savior during the Amazon vs. Publishers standoff regarding pricing. The only way for me to read my electronic books during this showdown was to get them through Apple who didn’t have any qualms about meeting the publisher’s demands. But I rarely use the iBook store. There are far fewer books available and reading on the iPad isn’t the greatest. The device is heavy and the LCD is taxing on the eyes. But it’s great to have in an emergency and I like the option of having a backup.

There’s always my iPhone which is also my savior. When I don’t feel like carrying around my large pocketbook I can still have my eBooks wherever I go because of my iPhone with the iBook, Kindle and nook apps. They sync with my devices at home so that wherever I am in the story is remembered across devices. I can just pick up where I left off, even if I’ve forgotten to bring my eReader with me.

And of course, my favorite, is my Kindle. This latest device is a happy graphite grey, so it shows less wear and tear. And it’s wafer thin. Plus the new cases have the built in lights for those nighttime reads. I do not get any eye strain after reading the device for multiple hours. The battery seems to last forever, even when I forget to turn it off at night and it sits in sleep mode. It fits perfectly in my large purse which I bought just so I could carry around one or two of my eReaders with me. And it has my entire collection of eBooks, including my NetGalley reads, with just a few exceptions for those books I have on the other devices.

The latest edition to my little electronic family is my color nook. I bought it in one of those spur-of-the-moment purchases. Barnes & Noble was quite smart to put that display immediately in front of the door. I was not a fan of the nook that was similar to the Kindle as I didn’t need that little color block at the bottom and I much prefer the keyboard on the Kindle for taking my notes while reading. But the color nook called to me. It was like an iPad only smaller and the selection of books is far greater at B&N than at Apple’s iBook store.

But I completely blame Simon & Schuster for this purchase. The nook was the only way I could read many of the eGalley’s I got. I tried reading one book on the computer and ended up buying a MacBook Air (with a gift certificate I had) just to have something to read on where I didn’t have to sit at a desk. After one book I realized just how annoying it was and when I heard that I could read them on the nook I completely freaked out.

The nook’s battery doesn’t last as long, it is heavier than my Kindle, and the LCD does make my eyes cross if I read it for too long, but it is a perfect supplement to my Kindle and I don’t regret the purchase for a second. It is, after all, the only eReader I ever purchased!

So that is my electronic family. The Kindle and nook travel with me almost anywhere I go. I like the idea that no matter where I am, all my books are with me. I can pick up any single story and start reading and get lost in a world of my choosing.

Don’t get me wrong, eReaders aren’t perfect. They do not have the beauty of a printed book – I don’t think anything could ever hold a candle to them. The texture of the pages, the gorgeous design and feel and color of the cover, the variety of fonts and the magic that comes with opening up a brand new book can never be captured in quite the same way on an electronic device. And part of the joy of reading is to experience each one of these elements, and they are all lacking on these flat-screened, page-clicking devices.

But what the eReader offers is functionality, practicality and portability. And yes, these things aren’t what are generally associated with the magic of books, but for an avid reader on the go, they sometimes tip the scales in their favor.

If I didn’t have my eReader at the RT convention I never would have been able to quickly find out what Rachel Vincent was talking about in her Soul Screamers series when she referenced a plot point that she had to work around in subsequent books. And I never would have found my favorite passage in time to enter and win a contest. And I never would be able to keep all five hundred plus books I currently own as I don’t have the space.

So I’m eternally grateful to the person who bought me my very first eReader back in 2008. A device I didn’t want and one I never thought I would like and only began to use because they nagged me and I felt guilty for it sitting there for three months collecting dust.

But almost three years later I sit here and can’t imagine a world without them. Although I’ve now managed to collect my share of printed books – after donating or giving away all but five – I still can’t fathom what it would be like to go back to an eReader-less world. I shudder just a little bit.

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