Teresa’s post on the subject of e-readers caught my attention because something similar to her experience has happened to me too. I wasn’t interested in e-readers at all, until all the sudden it turned out that I was. I’ve said for a while now that I have nothing against e-readers per se and that if I ever felt the need for one, I would get it. But I hadn’t felt the need for one. I love paper books and hate the idea of not being able to do some of the things you can do with regular books: flip through them quickly, share them, admire their beautiful, unique covers, smell them, fill bookcases with them.
I think I will always feel this way. But some of the things you can do with e-readers do appeal to me, one of which is downloading free classics. I spent some time exploring various sites that offer free books (Eva’s post contains links to a number of great sites) and was amazed by what is on offer. I also learned in the last week or so that it’s possible to get review copies of books electronically; Stefanie introduced me to NetGalley, a site where readers can request digital galleys of forthcoming books. I’m also intrigued by the idea of reading magazines on an e-reader.
The truth is, though, that I already own an e-reader: my iPhone. I just haven’t thought of it much as an e-reader; I downloaded book apps a long time ago, but I never took seriously the idea of reading anything that way. The screen seemed too small. However, I was curious enough about NetGalleys to request one of their books to see what reading on an iPhone would be like. and I’m now in the middle of Joyce Carol Oates’s forthcoming memoir A Widow’s Story, all of which I’ve read on the phone. I can also read the book on my computer, of course, but I’ve found I like reading on the phone better; the screen is small, yes, but I can curl up with it much more comfortably on the couch. And the truth is, the small screen doesn’t bother me much. If I were a faster reader, I would get frustrated at having to flip to a new page so often, but at my reading pace, it’s not so bad, and the pages “turn,” or whatever verb is appropriate, very quickly. I can adjust font size, margin size, and screen brightness, and I can bookmark and annotate passages.
But still, having a larger screen would be nice, and hence a new e-reader. (Also, while I can read ePub files on my iPhone, I can’t read PDFs; the font on those documents is much too small and not easily adjusted, as least as far as I know.) I like the way the Kindle looks, but I don’t like Amazon and don’t want to deal with their finickiness about file types. So I’m thinking about either the Nook or the Kobo. I like the idea of doing what a number of people I know do, which is to use the e-reader only for free books. The number of free classics will only increase, and I have a feeling electronic review copies will become more and more popular, so it seems like there will be plenty of free things to read. It’s funny how quickly I can go from not wanting something to thinking it would be a great idea to have it!