Can a screen ever really compare to the feel of a book?

I don’t often find the time, but when I do, there’s not much I love more than sinking into a good book.  I’ve got a real penchant for non-fiction books, but will happily most things that come across my path, as long as they’re of interest.

The one time that I almost always do manage to make the time to read is whilst we’re away.  Nothing says ‘we’re on holiday’ more than setting up on a comfy sofa or chair and knocking back chapter after chapter, uninterrupted.

What does one do though, when they’ve decided to travel light and they realise that their books would take up as much room as their clothes?  I love reading, but expect that the few clothes that we’ll be taking away are going to be fairly essential (and nobody wants to see me forgo pants in favour of an extra book!)

After years of holding off (because nothing feels quite like a book), I’ve made the leap and bought myself an eReader.  I decided to go with the Kobo Glo in the end.  For a while I considered a Kindle but as the libraries here in New Zealand loan out to Kobos (so I believe), it became a fairly easy decision; I don’t expect to loan many books from the digital catalogue, but I’d like to have the option.  The Kobo Glo ($199 normally, $179 on special) fits squarely in the middle of the current Kobo range.  I knew I wanted one with a backlight (which ruled out the two cheaper ones) and through the two more expensive ones were somewhat tempting, I didn’t see the value the offered for an extra $70 or $120 respectively.  Being the girl that I am, I went with the white and pink one (the blue that I would have liked was out of stock) and though it’s more red than pink, it’s pretty striking.

As a self-confessed tech geek, I’ve always been a bit surprised by my reservations about eReaders but now that I’ve taken the plunge, I totally get it.  I’m not sure I’ll ever go anti-books (I’ve got half a dozen currently winging their way from the Book Depository as I type – and if you’ve not heard of them, head over there right now for all manner of well priced books and free shipping) but for travelling and reading in the dark, I don’t think you can beat one.

It’s incredibly light and takes up less room then even the smallest of novels, appears to hold its charge incredibly well (I’ve had it for a week now and it’s barely dropped at all), is comfortable to read and hold (really not all that different from a book, besides the fact that the ‘paper’ screen is darker than a real book would be, which means I either need to sit in a well-lit room or use the backlight, which isn’t a drama), doesn’t have the brightness that the iPads have (I fooled myself into thinking that I could just read off my iPad but having read a short story on there, quickly decided that wasn’t going to happen again) and holds approximately a bazillion books (though don’t quote me on that).

At this stage, I really can’t see any downfalls, apart from the fact that I’ll have less gorgeous books sitting on my book shelf (though the planet will probably thank me for that) and the question of book pricing.  I’ve always been surprised by the cost of eBooks considering they must be substantially cheaper to make and sell, though hopefully prices will come down as more people move across to this format.

The question of how you source your eBooks is another interesting point to consider.  The book I’m reading now was one that was going to be loaned by a friend.  With that in mind, when is it ok to download one?  Or is it not?  That’s not a question that I’m going to weigh in on, but is something to consider.  I’ve never had an issue with paying for books (or music), but I do appreciate being able to loan them to others should I choose – this is something that isn’t so easily done once we move to electronic copies (unless one ventures into the not-so-legal way of doing things).

Regardless, I’m a little bit in love with my new Kobo and am happy with my choice.

Do you travel with an eReader or do you prefer the more traditional?

PS:  If you’ve got some good book suggestions, please leave a comment.  It’s time to get my new toy loaded up!

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