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I got on the e-reader bandwagon fairly early: I purchased my Amazon Kindle back in the spring of 2009, more than 8 years ago, and I’ve never looked back. In fact, I’ve converted my family to being Kindle users too. My husband reads his Kindle on the way to and from work on the train. My two kids (ages 11 and 10) both read nearly-exclusively on their Kindles as well (the exception being books from school or received as gifts from friends).
Now look, I get it: like most bibliophiles, I have savoured the weight of a book in my hand, the delicate feel of the pages beneath my fingertips, and the smell of the paper. It’s a beautiful sensory thing that can’t be underestimated. But you know what? I gave it up and I don’t regret it. And you won’t either once you experience all the benefits to switching to an e-reader.
When I bought my Kindle eight years ago, the main driver at the time was to eliminate clutter. Books, as much as I love them, do add clutter to a home no matter the systems you create to manage it. We had ample bookshelves but they would regularly become full and I had to constantly purge to make more room. My bedside table would always have a large stack of books on it, as would the floor beneath. The latter was the case whether I purchased the books or borrowed them from the library. For an avid reader, there will always be more than one book in the queue; hence, the stacks of books.
Now don’t get me wrong: I am not a neat-freak in any way. I actually WISH I were. My house is always full of various types of clutter: craft supplies, toys, games, clothes, etc. But clutter in the form of books was a type of clutter I could manage more effectively than simply making neater stacks or putting up more shelves. I could do away with the clutter completely, while still enjoying all the books I ever wanted. That simply wasn’t possible with other types of clutter we had in the form of toys, etc. So to me, it was a no-brainer.
Now, instead of having a stack of 4 – 5 books on each night stand, each person in my household has one Kindle (charging when not in use), with any number of books in the queue for that person to read once they are done their current book. One slim little Kindle each. And my bookshelves? They are still fairly full with books we want to keep but the contents aren’t on constant rotation anymore; the books that are there are there to stay.
Now I know that instant gratification isn’t always a good thing but in the case of books, it certainly is! I can’t emphasize how much I love being able to connect to the Amazon Kindle store after I’ve finished a book and immediately download the next one in a series, or search other titles by the same author and have them in my hands in a flash. Especially in the case of a series that you’ve just discovered, it allows you to stay in the author’s fictional world nearly uninterrupted. Unlike the library where there may be several holds on the book before you, you don’t have to wait and be patient. And yes, I know patience is a virtue but I strongly argue that in the case of reading, it’s completely unnecessary!
My children have always looked forward to getting the Scholastic book order forms from school, and interestingly enough, they still do! But now, instead of ordering through Scholastic, they peruse the order form and note what books they want next for their Kindles. If I’m feeling generous, we download them right then and there.
My children are very close in age and tend to enjoy the same books. They will often read a series together at the same time. I know it’s not a huge hardship for one to have to wait until the other is finished a book, but it is wonderfully convenient for them to both read the same book at the same time.
The Kindle’s slim profile and huge capacity allows you to go anywhere with ease.
My husband uses public transit to go to and from work each day, and he reads his Kindle on the way. He tends to read non-fiction which, in his pre-Kindle days, involved some pretty hefty books. He much prefers the lightweight Kindle for that reason, but also because he always has another book in the queue if he happens to finish his current one while in transit.
Since I purchased my Kindle back in 2009, my trusty little e-reader has accompanied me to China (twice), Hawaii, California (several times), Savannah, Georgia, and various places throughout Canada. I used to have to pack several novels for each trip, taking up precious space and weight. Now, I simply pre-load my Kindle with a ton of books, toss it in my carry-on, and I’m good to go! And the best part is that if I run out of books on my trip, I can just download more in an instant.
Easy on the eyes
From time to time, I’ve resorted to reading a book (or part thereof) on the Kindle app of my iPhone. While I’m happy to have access to my current novel on my phone (synced to my spot on my Kindle), it’s not easy on the eyes. Before long, I have to rest my eyes from the light or the screen glare. This is never the case with the Kindle itself. The screen is just like paper to my eyes.
No over-due fees or walks of shame!
Okay, so I have to confess that I’m not a good library user. When I’ve used the library in the past, I would often rack up late fees despite the handy feature they have of being able to extend your loan online. The problem was that I’d borrow a book, then get distracted by different books (from a friend or ones I purchased), and then before you know it, the library one would be past due. I really have no excuse for not extending the loan; I just wasn’t on top if it. Every time I borrowed from the library I’d vow to do better. And then I wouldn’t!
This is our family stack of Kindles. My Kindle with its red, worn cover, is at the bottom, topped by Ren’s (black cover), Claire’s (yellow cover decorated with washi tape and stickers) and lastly, Paul’s.
After 8 years of using my Kindle, I can unreservedly say that I do not regret making the switch. While I do fondly remember the sensations of turning pages and smelling the paper, I also now love clicking to turn my page (I think my kids have the swipe function on their newer Kindles?), and seeing a new title suddenly appear on my home page after purchasing a book.
Besides, the thing with books is that you get lost in them. Those momentary sensations of touch and smell, however wonderful, are just that: momentary. The words, the story, the emotions evoked by the author … that is what draws you in and stays with you. Not the physical thing you hold.
If you’ve been thinking about trying an e-reader, I encourage you to go for it. My ancient, second-generation Kindle is obviously obsolete these days or I’d point you to it. There are a few different options nowadays for Kindles, depending on whether you want a built-in light, 3G (in addition to the standard Wi-Fi), a charging cover, etc. They range from $79.99 up to $399.99 Canadian.
If I were to purchase a new one now, I’d go with the Kindle Paperwhite because it has a built-in light. (I sometimes like to read after Paul falls asleep.) Follow this link to see the Paperwhite on Amazon.ca: Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
For the basic e-reader (no light, no 3G), I think the entry-level Kindle e-reader is awesome and has a great price point ($79.99). This is the version my kids have: Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi
Do you already own an e-reader? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Please comment and tell me if I neglected to mention any of their advantages.
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