From the beginning, I was always pretty against the whole kindle/e-book phenomenon. I loved physical books too much – the way they smelt, the sound the pages made when you turned them, the feel of one in your hands and the fact that you could collect them and house them in a beautiful, personalised bookcase of your own.
But try carrying two Game of Thrones books in your handbag on the commute to work because you’re worried you’ll finish one on the train. Try climbing five flights of stairs in a dank hostel in Prague, dragging a suitcase of books behind you. What about when you move house (come on now, we’re all clearing renting), and you have to put half your books in storage? You just know you’re going to need to reference one of those. These are some of the book dilemmas that drove me to purchase the dreaded Kindle. I swallowed my pride and opinions (which I’d adamantly voiced to the whole office) and journeyed to the nearest Big W. That night, I went nuts, buying Amazon e-books with ‘one click’ and realised… Ahhh no. This could be dangerous. Over the next few months, I decided I’d made the right decision. Here’s why you should too.
1. All Your Books in the One Place
It’s a personalised, portable library, with the ability to hold thousands of books at once. At any time, you can flick between books to cross-reference, revisit an old favourite or just because! Books seem to wander – your parents’ house, your friend’s bookshelf, your partner’s bedside table… With a Kindle or e-reader, you can rest assured that you’re not leaving anything important behind and you’ll always have access to every book you own.
2. It’s Cheaper
In most instances, you’ll find that e-books cost between 0-$10… On some exceptional occasions they might be about $16, but it’s quite rare. Compare this to the 25-$30 price range of paperbacks and hardcovers and you’ll see why so many people are opting for the e-book option. The Kindle or e-reader varies in price depending on what model you go for, but there are some very affordable options for us penniless writers. I bought the most basic Kindle for $120, but it’s saved me a fortune in books and has actually allowed me to read more, because I’m not debating on whether or not to buy Robert Galbraith’s novel for 35 bucks.
3. It’s Portable
If like me, you sign six-month leases and travel a fair bit, an e-reader is certainly for you. It’s light, small and fits in every single one of my bags and means that I don’t have to worry about boxing up and moving an entire library. It’s also ensured that I keep reading even when I’m on the road, because I’m not weighing up whether or not I can lug around another 500-page novel.
4. It’s Got Features!
You can highlight, make notes, look up definitions and… categorise! It’s got a build in dictionary, a separate folder where all your highlighted text is kept for reference and it syncs wirelessly to your Amazon account as long as you have a Wifi connection. See what I mean about dangerous? Each book opens up to the last page you were on, you can change the font size, go to certain page numbers and view the most popular passages that other readers have highlighted…
5. More and More Books are Going Digital
Whether it’s a particular niche book or a debut novelist, chances are, their work is going to be available in digital form first. The greatest advantage I’ve find though, is that niche titles, particularly writer’s reference materials, are far more widely available and can be in your hands with the click of a button. So much so, that I’ve stopped crawling along the bottom shelves of the four storey Dymocks in the city.
6. It Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have Print as Well!
I have a small bookcase in my apartment that is reserved for life-changing books. It houses the books that are like old friends and the books that I hope one day, my own novels will stand alongside with. I now keep the purchase of print books to one’s that I’ve already read and fallen in love with.
Ironically, Amazon have recently announced a ‘Kindle Matchbook’ scheme, which means that when you buy print book, you get offered the digital version at a discounted rate or free! Check out their press release here.
I didn’t realise how much I wasn’t reading just because of something as simple as ‘my bag will be too heavy’ or ‘what if I take it and then I want to read something else’. As much as I love print books, they just didn’t match my lifestyle anymore. As sad as that was to come to terms with, my Kindle has opened up so many new avenues of knowledge for me, as well as allowed me to make the most of the little time I have read, while still being practical. And I’m sure it can offer you the same benefits.