Slow living, fast reading: Why I read ebooks instead of “real” books
I’m a bit of a bookworm. I always have been, ever since I first learned to read. I was always that kid walking around with her nose stuck in a book – and I mean that literally too. My dad always warned me I was going to hurt myself doing that. Knock on wood, so far so good with remaining reading-injury-free. (I’ve just jinxed myself, of course.)
I also tended to read more than one book on the go. Whatever we were supposed to be reading for high school English had a high chance of not being that interesting to me (curse you, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!) so I would read the mandatory book because I had to while simultaneously reading whatever *I* wanted to enjoy.
A few years back I managed to get in contact with my favorite English teacher from high school and in his email he mentioned that he seemed to recall quite clearly that whenever my work was done I would whip out a paperback copy of something or other and read quietly at my desk.
These days I don’t read quite as voraciously as I used to and I don’t have the brain space to read two or three books all at the same time (if I try that I tend to forget what’s going on in which story). I do still love to read though and I tend to be a little bit panicky if I don’t have something that I actually WANT to read on hand.
Some people have been known to make fun of me for reading ebooks instead of “real” books and there are a ton of book snobs on the internet who turn up their noses at digital book options. I don’t care. First I had a Kindle, then when that died I moved on to using Google Play Books to read digitally instead. And you know, sure, I do love to hold a book in my hands and read the old fashioned way but there are a few reasons I choose digital over print much of the time.
Why I read ebooks instead of “real” books (most of the time)
I can carry around multiple books at once without weighing myself down
Have you ever tried to pack 25 books and carry it around on the off chance that you might suddenly want to read one? Yeah, good luck to you and your shoulders. Even though I carry a backpack to work, I really wouldn’t want to be carrying multiple books in there. It’s a little bit much. But right now I have about 30 books sitting in my digital library. I can carry them all in my phone and/or my tablet and they don’t weigh any more than the device they are stored on. That’s pretty nice. (This is also useful if you’re moving; I have moved an insane number of boxes of books in my life. This is way easier to lug around.)
If I give up on my current book, I probably have at least ten more right there
Once upon a time I used to really try to force myself to finish a book even if I hated it or thought it was boring as hell. It probably stems from my hopeless optimism that maybe a craptacular book will suddenly become amazing by the next chapter. Many years ago I realized that this is incredibly stupid. If you’re not being graded on it in English class then it’s just not necessary. Life is short; I don’t have the time to sit and slog through a book that is not interesting to me. I have a to-read list that is enormous and grows bigger rather than smaller all the time. If a book is not working for me, then I’m done with it.
It’s nice for me to be sitting at work on my break and to be able to stop reading a shitty book and start a new one in its place on the spot instead of having to wait until I go home.
I can hear about a book, decide I want it, order it, and start it immediately
People who love to read also seek out other people who love to read. When we do, we talk about what we’re reading and more than once I have thought, “ooh, I must read that too!” I also work upstairs from a book store (this is not healthy for me) and I look at the books on display at least a couple of times every week. I almost always come away with a title that I want to read.
In either of these cases, I can go online and order that book, download it straight to my device, and start reading it all within a matter of mere minutes. It’s fantastic.
I can borrow books from the library without worry
I’ve been using the Overdrive app lately which connects to your local library (I believe it works in North America, but may be available in other parts of the world too). I can log in to my library and seek out a book to read from their digital collection. If it’s available I “check it out” and download it immediately. Once I’m done I can simply click to return or else it will just disappear once it expires. If the book isn’t available on the spot then I can place a hold on it. Whenever it’s ready for me I get an email advising me that such-and-such a book has been automatically checked out for me and I can go grab it. I never have to worry about a fine because I don’t have to physically take anything back, and I don’t have the inconvenience of having to rush to the library for a pickup because a hold comes in at an inopportune time.
I use the app now for my library books AND for my own collection.
It is SO much easier on my eyes
This is probably the big one for me.
I love holding a book in my hands and turning the pages. I really do. But I’m not getting any younger and neither are my eyes which were always bad to begin with. I just hooked up my laptop to a 32″ screen TV recently and I’m already marveling at how much easier it is to read and write on such a large screen. See, books are static. If the type is really tiny it makes it much harder for me to read. This is especially true at night after a long day – and that’s when I tend to do most of my reading, at night in bed with a cup of tea, before going to sleep. If my eyes are tired then I end up squinting and often give up and stop reading sooner than I might like.
On the other hand, if I’m reading an ebook on my tablet then I have the option to increase the font size. Yes, it makes me feel really old to have to bump up the text and to have to “turn the page” more often because fewer words now fit on the page, but I don’t care. At least I’m reading. Which leads me to my next and final point.
Reading is reading is reading
I don’t see any reason to feel bad about not reading a physical book. I’m still reading. The method may be different but the story is still exactly the same whether it’s ink on a page or e-ink on a screen. I still get the same start, middle, and end to the book as someone with a paperback copy.
I can think of other reasons to enjoy digital reading too, to be honest
It’s cheaper. As much as I might want to support an author that I love, I am not made of money and ebooks are almost always cheaper.
I hate hardcover books. They’re heavy and cumbersome to hold, but if I want to read a book that’s brand new I’m probably stuck with hardcover. But not if I purchase a downloadable copy! (Also, hardcovers are way expensive, see point above.)
Some people think there’s a bit of a separation between slow living and digital living but I don’t. By using ebooks to get access to books quickly and easily, I’m more readily able to curl up in bed with a great story any time I want. That sounds like slow living to me!
(And holding a tablet to read in bed when you’re tired is much easier than holding a heavy hardcover!)
How about you? Are you a fan of ebooks or do you refuse to read them?
PS I’m currently reading The Child Finder on my library app and it is pretty good. My favorite books so far this year were the Unwind series by Neal Shusterman (all four books in the series were AMAZING and I liked them more than The Hunger Games or Divergent – yay dystopian series!) and They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera. Despite the spoiler-iffic title, I’ve been recommending the latter to everyone who enjoys reading in any capacity.