I’m a technology junkie. I’ll admit that as I sit here at my desk with my iPad, Kindle Fire, Tab E, iPhone, iPod, Apple watch, FitBit, Macbook—and these are only the gadgets within my reach at the moment. I like technology. People often ask my advice on such things. Last week, I told Nick I was going to write a post on ereaders—and over the weekend a friend asked me about the value of a Kindle. It’s kismet.
I was slow to hop on the ereader train. I adore the sensual nature of books—the feel, the smell. I can think of nothing better than curling up with a pot of tea and a good book, lost in the world the author has created, the whisper of the page as it turns drawing me deeper into an alternative reality. Nothing. But my life isn’t one of leisure and such moments are reserved for wintery days, which forces the cancellation of classes.
Much of my reading is done on the go: In long lines at the grocery store; waiting for someone because I’m the ride; waiting for laundry; for my nails to dry; while students are writing; in traffic jams; in meetings I have to attend but have little or nothing to do with me; in long lines at DMV; on a plane; on a train; at appointments of all sorts. I never go anywhere without having reading material available to me. Ever. Books, magazines (The Economist, The New Yorker, and The Sun being favorites), newspapers (the NYT, the Washington Post). Gadgetry has made this easier for me. Pulling out the latest science fiction novel may not be appropriate whilst sitting in a meeting with one’s superiors. But few eyebrows are raised when I am looking at my iPad. And there are other benefits; I have at my disposal, at all times, the complete works of Shakespeare, Poe, Austen, Yeats, Tolkien, Butcher, Emerson, Dickens, Vonnegut, Heaney, Gaiman, Pratchett, Swift, Adams…
I could go on, but you get the idea. I have a bad back and it is difficult for me to carry any one of these collections, The Riverside Shakespeare being a particular challenge. And yet, I always have them all with me. I have the OED and the Oxford Bible. In essence, I have a whole library with me at all times—it’s a magical feeling. But one that takes getting used to. And I have.
I started with an iPad 1, oh so many years ago. It had all the whistles and bells. I tried iBooks, but was underwhelmed by the interface, the complexity of ordering books, the cost. I downloaded the Kindle app on to my iPad and dove in. No need for an external light source, no heavy thing to carry. Sold. The Kindle app is very adaptable. I can open it on all of the aforementioned devices and pick up on the current page—they sync. So that long line at DMV is rendered irrelevant, I just pull out my phone and read. I confess reading on my phone is not my preferred option. But it is an option. I read almost exclusively in my Kindle app, usually on my iPad Air (the iPad 1 is still here and still works—but—technology junkie).
So, let’s start with that, iPad (or multi-use tablet, so iPad, Tab-E, and Kindle Fire). It’s convenient. As I use my iPad for email, grade books, textbooks, calendar, banking, weather, GPS, graphing calculator, and weather services no one questions when I have it open, anywhere without arousing suspicion, I could also use the Fire and Tab-E the same way. The Kindle interface is smooth and flexible. I am able to increase or decrease the font, depending upon how tired I am, or how discreet I need to be. It is an excellent multi-purpose device. The one drawback, and it is fairly significant, is that it reflects in sunlight. It is difficult—nearly impossible—to read from an iPad whilst sitting in the sun. This isn’t particularly irksome to me, because if you find me sitting in the sun, you can assume I have been abducted by aliens and this is some sort of substitute or hypnotized version of me. I am decidedly too Irish to sit in the sun, and I certainly could not sit long enough to read a book without needing medical attention. So, there’s that. But if you read whilst soaking up rays, the iPad is not a good choice for you.
But then neither is any sort of tablet, the Samsung, and Kindle Fire have this same drawback. The only viable option for sun worshippers is a Kindle Paperwhite. It does not have a reflective screen. It also doesn’t have the backlight the other devices have (which, for me, is a drawback—I couldn’t read in bed without a light). Another upside to the paperwhite is that the screen doesn’t collect fingerprints. And it doesn’t multitask (again, this does not win it points for me). It is a book reader. That’s what it does; you load books on it and read them. No app necessary. Well, sort of. When reading a library book one has to connect the Paperwhite to a computer to which said book has been downloaded and then transfer it to the device.
When using any multi-use tablet, one simply installs OverDrive (the library access app) and reads from within a browser. Books cannot be overdue, as they simply disappear from your device when you pass the due date. But! When you renew, the app remembers where you left off. Good stuff.
I always recommend a multi-use tablet to people, get your money’s worth. Read your email and your current book in the same place. Read in bed without disturbing anyone else. And you shouldn’t be sitting in the sun anyway; it’s bad for you! It’ll make your skin age faster and possibly cause cancer. Make good choices.
Now, I do still own books—and I have books that I want to have the sensual physical book experience with. Some books just need weight, smell, whispering pages. But for the voracious reader, an ebook reader is a godsend. Get one. Join the twenty-first century.
Imagine Picard reading his tablet way before tablets were a thing… Opening Hamlet on it glancing at the replicator and saying, “Earl Grey, hot.” – Perfect choice with a good book, paper or otherwise. Yup, reading ebooks is living in the future!