The first time I heard about the existence of an e-reader was about 2 years ago, and I was completely and utterly against it. Just the whole concept seemed ridiculous to me. Why would you want something, a machine-like thing, that isn’t even a real book? a. it doesn’t look like a book b. it doesn’t smell like a book (yes I’m a book sniffer, and I’m not ashamed to say it) and c. it’s not very pretty. Surely it’ll be more eco-friendly because it’ll save the lives of many trees, but this wasn’t enough to convince me to actually get one. I love everything about books, not just the actual reading part. I love picking them out at the book store, skimming through the pages, looking at all the pretty covers, checking if I like the font that’s being used etc. I could go on for a while. You can do none of this with an e-reader. You buy it, you download books onto it and that’s it. No more excitement.
Yet slowly, I started to get used to the idea that an e-reader might not be such a bad thing after all. For 4 years I travelled between Amsterdam, where I studied as an undergraduate, and rural France, where my parents live, on quite a regular basis. And especially when I went back home for the summer, the packing of all my things was always a problem. Because yes, I do need all of my clothes, and yes, a girl needs a minimum of 6 pairs of shoes, and yes, I do need to bring a bare minimum of 10 books with me to last me the summer. So the choice was simple: either suffer a hernia from logging all my books with me between two different countries, or succumb to an e-reader. The choice wasn’t a very difficult one.
I knew fairly soon that I wanted a Kindle. I thought it looked prettier than the rest of the e-readers on offer, and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. When a friend of mine bought one, and I had a chance to get a good look at it, I knew that was the one I wanted. I opted for the Kindle keyboard, the most advanced model available at the time. It’s simple, black and white, no fancy apps or anything. Just a book, only digital. To protect it I bought a beautiful fake-leather bound cover, which makes it look like a really old book. I loved it (and still do).
I have to admit though that the Kindle does have quite a few advantages over ‘real’ books. It’s very light, and you can easily take it with you everywhere you go. Of course you can take a normal book with you as well, but they’re usually much heavier, and I hate it when my books get damaged from being in my handbag for too long, crammed in with all my other stuff I drag around with me at all times. It can hold all of your favourite books, which is another huge advantage. I currently have 260 books on mine. All the classics are offered as free downloads, which is perfect for a former English major. I love the fact that I have access to all these wonderful books without having to pay a single penny for them.
And then there are the more practical advantages. Because it’s so light you can hold it with one hand while you read. With normal books I usually have to use two hands, unless it’s a hardcover, because I’m a bit clumsy and I get cramps if I try to hold it open single-handedly. With the Kindle you can hold your book in one hand, and a cup of tea in the other while you read. Or a biscuit, whichever you prefer. Or you can put the Kindle in your lap, and hold a cuppa in one hand and a biscuit in the other. Best of both worlds!
My love for my Kindle doesn’t mean that I’ve gone completely digital and have forsaken my beloved paper books. On the contrary, I still buy as many books as I used to. When I’m at home I still prefer a paper book over a digital one, and when I’m travelling I prefer my Kindle. Both have their pros and cons, which is why I’m so happy to have both, because they complement each other perfectly. Like Stephen Fry already said: “Books are no more threatened by Kindles, than stairs are by elevators”, and I’m inclined to agree with him. I will never give up on paper books completely, but I do love my Kindle a lot as well. And if I’m saving a few trees in the process, that’s only a wonderfully added bonus!