What I think of e-readers after actually using one.

4 Mar

This is using Cal’s Kindle, the normal, cheap-o one–not a touch screen, with the screen about the size of a mass market paperback’s pages. I recognize that different e-readers have different features, so if you read something below and can advise that a different e-reader doesn’t compare with something I’ve said, please do so!


1. The screen. The screen did not hurt my eyes like I thought it would. There WAS sometimes a glare when reading by lamplight, which was annoying, but not a big enough issue for me with this book to complain about it. I was reading mostly during the day, and natural light was fine.

2. Insta-delivery of books is pretty cool. I enjoy that.

3. Carrying ALL the books with you wherever you go. This would have been pretty convenient if I’d had one before I left home and somehow managed to afford an e-copy of all the books in my library. I’ve been missing some of them. This would also be good for when Cal and I go to Europe and can’t afford to have space in our backpacks taken up by however many books I can read in a month.


1. The buttons on the side to “turn” the pages. On the kindle, there is a big button on either side with a little button on top of it. The big button is to go forward, the little button is to go back. My problem with this is in two parts. a) I kept accidentally clicking the buttons when, say, turning it on, or simply just sitting there. And woops, there goes my page. b) When such a thing happens you could click one of the buttons to make it go whichever way, right? Easy as. But for some reason it’s hardwired into my brain that clicking the RIGHT buttons makes it go forward, while clicking the LEFT buttons makes it go back. None of this big button/little button stuff. So I’d accidentally go forward a page and then click the left big button a few times trying to find where I was supposed to be, only to realize that I was going forward even more.

2. The above wouldn’t such a huge issue if there were any gosh-darned page numbers on the thing! Particularly those times when I turned it on and accidentally clicked the button, I often had no idea where I was and had to ruffle through trying to figure out where I left off. You can’t put a bookmark in it, it just remembers where you were–whether you got there accidentally or not! (Not that I use bookmarks in books, anyway–because I have a great memory for page numbers — which this doesn’t have!)

3. There is no way that I discovered to find out how close you are to the end of a chapter, unless you click through the pages a bunch of times and click back. I prefer ending my reading session at the end of a chapter (this would ALSO make it a lot easier to figure out where I needed to start when I accidentally click the buttons turning it on). I suppose you could say you have to rifle through pages in a real book too, but when you’re done rifling through 20 pages trying to find the end of the chapter, then you just flip ’em back into place and continue reading. I mean, I would consider it pretty dim not to keep a finger/bookmark/cat on the page you were reading while you’re doing that, anyway.

4. Having to recharge a “book” seems pretty stupid to me.

5. It does not smell of book.

6. It does not feel of book.

7. There is no pretty cover for people to exclaim, “What’s that you’re reading??” and strike up an interesting conversation with people. Normally I hate it when people ask me what’s that you’re reading?? But when they do it with books it’s because the cover looks like something they’d like to read and you can tell them about it. When they do it with Kindle they have nothing to go off of, so when you answer and they find out that it isn’t Hemingway’s Complete Works and get all disappointed, you’re left in some social awkwardness hoping he gets off the bus really soon.

8. The pricing of a large number of the e-books that I looked up was roughly that of a paperback, but you don’t get the physical book. As a writer, I think I would demand that of my own books if they go digital. However, as a reader, it seems silly to me to pay the same price for something that you can’t hold and display on a shelf. I do see quite a few deals, so I suppose you just have to hit it at the right time.

9. You can’t just browse e-books as you might books–I don’t mean in a bookstore, but even online, it isn’t the same. Not with Amazon’s “everyone and their brother can get published, here you go” scheme. No offense to anyone who self-publishes, but you have to admit it’s a dangerous thing to give people free reign of the industry. I found several interesting looking e-books which I was smart enough to take a peek at before buying. Absolutely riddled with typos, the first pages looking like something I wrote when I was twelve… it was awful. So instead, I had to look through my Goodreads “to-read” list and see if there was a kindle edition available. (Note: mostly, there wasn’t.)


1. Travel, as stated above. I’ll actually buy my own before Europe (or we might get a bigger tablet of some description so that we don’t have to bring our laptops and can Skype with that). It’s a lot smaller than a bunch of books and therefore more convenient to people living out of a single backpack for a month or more.

2. Those times few and far between when I’ve run out of new books and various bookstores and libraries are closed and I don’t feel like rereading what’s on my shelves. Assuming I can find an e-edition of various titles, this seems like it will be convenient.

However, this will NOT be an all the time thing. I was going absolutely mad. Perhaps you get used to the buttons. But if I can’t get used to them after reading an entire book (nearly 500 print-pages long!), I really don’t know that I’ll ever get used to them. Perhaps other e-readers don’t have such stupidly placed buttons. Others can advise me on that below.


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