When e-readers first came onto the scene I scoffed and declared that books are books and should be read as such — physically flipping through pages, folding corners over, breathing in that book-y, paper-y smell, feeling the heft in your hand. You can’t get that from a screen, I said. Who would by an e-reader?
Somewhere around Day 3 of my Christmas holiday I started to get stir-crazy. I had exhausted the internet. There was nothing left to read. I wanted a book. But there is only one bookstore in town, and while I don’t have a problem with Christians, religion is not really my favourite reading subject. So I started thinking about e-readers.
See, I also love newspapers. I love the smudgy newsprint, the satisfying rustle as I flip through pages, the routine and interaction of “I’m finished with the front section, want to trade for business?” I grew up with the Toronto Star as a household staple. Journalism runs in my blood. I’m a freakin’ reporter — and I rarely get my hands dirty with ink. I read at laest 95% of my news online these days. I don’t even read Matt’s newspaper in person and it’s freely available to me — I read it online.
Worse yet, I read it online on my tiny little iPhone screen. And it doesn’t bother me, other than that it’s tiny. With that realization, and the realization that I don’t read books anymore because I have to pay to ship them in, and wait at least a week for their arrival, at which point I rip through them in one night rather than savouring the experience… I decided to buy an e-reader.
Matt kept trying to convince me to get a tablet, but I was equally steadfast in my assurance that I just wanted something that was as close to a real book as possible — I didn’t want to go on the internet, I didn’t want 3G, I just wanted a bigger, better, brighter screen to look at, and the capability to download books instantly. I did a bit of research and landed on the Kobo Glo.
And… I love it. I think I love it more than real books (sacrilege!). Okay, that might be a bit much, but I have to admit that it is more practical and useful than a real book, to me. Here’s why:
- I can adjust the font and font size. When my eyes hurt, I size up the font and it’s easier to read. And, the technology makes it look very similar to real paper — that was Matt’s first statement upon seeing it. It’s uncanny.
- I can keep a running wishlist of the books I want to read, right on the device, as I think of them. When I want to buy them I just have to click a button and there it is!
- Just using internal memory, I can carry around a thousand books on something that is roughly the size of a paperback (but way thinner).
- The backlit screen is very bright, for reading in the dark, but it isn’t intrusive.
- I can annotate, highlight, translate and look up definitions of words and phrases and entire paragraphs, which is something I am surprisingly doing a lot, now that I have the capability. I’m loathe to write in the margins of a real book but with the Kobo I can do it in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of reading — and I can go back and search through all of those annotations in the future.
- I’m a total stats nerd and I love seeing that I am xx% through a book, that it’s taking me xx minutes to get through an average chapter and that at that pace I should be done the book in however long. This is all stuff I would have no concept of with a real book (which is arguably a con, for some people, not a pro).
- I can go online if I really want to (even though it’s all in black and white).
- Ontario libraries rent out e-books with a valid library card number!
And a few photos, of course!
Left – The Kobo Glo compared with my iPhone 4, for scale. Right, from top – I bought a green leather case for it and it seems to be doing the trick! I picked out the blue Kobo but they also come in pink, silver and black (I think). The last photo shows the thickness of the device.
Left is the Kobo with the light turned off, and right, at full brightness. This was during daylight hours, inside my living room with no other lighting except the window.
Left – A close-up photo of the e-Ink. Right, from top – The slider is the power/sleep button, which is controlled by how long you hold it over, and the button next to it is for the light. The slot on the side is for a microSD card, with a max of 32 GB bringing the storage up to something like 30,000 books. On the bottom there’s a port to plug the Kobo into a computer, and a reset button.
There are, of course, a few cons:
- Maybe I’m used to my iPhone correcting all of my inaccurate keystrokes but I’m having a hard time using the keyboard unless I use it very, very deliberately and carefully.
- I can’t seem to add books to my wishlist from the online Kobo store which is annoying because it’s way faster to look up books with an actual computer equipped with a real keyboard.
- In order to save money on shipping books I had to shell out the $130 cost of the Kobo.
- The screen seems to get dingy easily.
- There’s a feature where you get rewards and badges for doing certain things (fully reading a book, buying a new book, etc.) which is probably motivating for some people, but for me it feels weird — reading is not like unlocking Xbox achievements!
I’m surprised, though, with how much I’m really enjoying my e-reader. I’m looking forward to filling my downtime, travelling or waiting for people or not wanting to watch TV, with reading, instead of aimlessly flipping around on my iPhone. I realize I’m trading one device for another, but books make me feel like I’m expanding my mind more than melting it.
Does anyone else use an e-reader? And, more importantly — any good book recommendations? I like memoirs and non-fiction but I’m trying to get back into fiction, too.