Since the advent of the e-reader a few years ago, I’ve heartily stood my ground as a defender of the traditional book, arguing for the merits of tactility, the sensation of turning that last page, and—from a print designer’s standpoint—the smell of ink on the page (it’s not weird, I promise!). I swore up and down that the day I purchased an e-reader would be the day I ate my hat, because my break in that tradition would mean I was one more step removed from simpler times of churning butter and making my own soap. (Maybe Laura Ingalls Wilder Day had too much of an effect on me in elementary school…)
And then, the unthinkable happened: I caved.
In two months of traveling Europe in 2008, I worked my way through 13 books, some of which I purchased along the way. I couldn’t just toss them out, either: I was there on a research grant, and I needed most of them for work.
But it was just too much. I almost threw out my back lugging my mini-library around airports and train stations. You’re not supposed to throw out your back at 22.
Earlier this year, I bought a Barnes & Noble Nook with some leftover gift cards (thank you, former students!), and I have to say: I haven’t looked back. In the first month, I read upwards of 1,500 pages of material—twice my normal pace—because I could take the Nook anywhere. It slips easily into a coat pocket, and I can swap books without resorting to the bookshelf at home. And gone are the days of writing down the titles of books I want to read—I can just download the sample and purchase the full book later on. (Unfortunately, my library and my bank account grow inversely proportionate to each other.)
Still, there remains an excitement about now being able to travel light and far, with little more than a frisbee-like contraption that keeps my mental pistons firing. So the next time I’m on assignment, I won’t have to bring a back brace.
Did I totally wuss out? Do you want to berate me for turning my back on traditional books? Please don’t :( But really, I’d like to hear your thoughts on books vs. e-readers.