On owning an e-reader

So I’ve had the Kindle for a couple of months now. I didn’t really know how I’d take to it but figured it would be useful for travelling. Already I find that I am doing about half of my reading on it. But what’s it actually like?

Bookses old and new

I genuinely like reading on the Kindle. The e-ink screen is just as comfortable as paper on my eyes, it’s light and easy to hold in one hand, so it’s kind on my joints, and I like being able to highlight or annotate passages as I read without worrying about whether it counts as defacing a book!

So am I a complete convert? Well, not quite. I still have an emotional attachment to physical books. Now, whether that’s just because I like them as objects to own, or whether there’s more to it, I’m honestly not sure. I definitely love my library, filled with books I have read and loved, with little collections by favourite authors. I like to look at those shelves and remember reading each of those titles. I appreciate a well-made book – a hardback with designed endpapers, head and tail bands and cloth cover (such as anything made by the Folio Society) is a truly beautiful thing. But I also have many a cheap paperback that I hold dear.

On the negative side of ebooks, there’s the DRM/ownership issue. Strictly, you are long-term renting most digital products rather than buying permanent ownership. I figure once I’ve paid for a book I should have the right to lend it to my friends, leave it to my children or give it away to a library or charity shop. I know this is still being figured out and everyone seems to have just accepted the switch in music, but I’m just not convinced. I mean, when I meet my favourite authors what will I get them to sign?

And let’s not forget bookshops. I love going to physical bookshops, and while I don’t think Amazon is entirely evil, I would prefer not to be completely limited to buying from them. So maybe an e-reader other than a Kindle is the solution, as the whole epub versus mobi thing does mean with any other e-reader I could at least buy from other digital vendors, and apparently a growing number of US bookshops are selling ebooks in store (they upload the book to a cloud account) so hopefully UK bookshops will follow suit.

So for now I’m largely downloading free ebooks from Project Gutenberg and continuing to buy physical books. But I really do like reading on the Kindle, so maybe that will change in time.

Do you use an e-reader? Have you tried a few different ones? Let me know your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “On owning an e-reader

  1. Susan October 28, 2013 at 3:40 am

    I have an older Kindle, which I use mostly to read the New York Times periodically. I have read a few books on the Kindle, but I guess I still like holding & reading a physical book best. I think Kindles are nice though!

  2. talkie_tim October 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Hmm, I wonder if this ruling will have any effect on DRM on eBooks? If they turned down the argument that software is licensed indefinitely, then it is owned, and if software can be owned, then maybe eBooks are, too.

  3. Kate Gardner November 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Susan I have wondered about subscribing to something through the Kindle. Can you get a Kindle version of the New Yorker? That might suit me well.

    Tim I wonder. It would certainly be a start.

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