Books vs. e-readers, the jury’s out

In the publishing world, we often anguish about “the future of print.” So it was with a slight sense of guilt that, in January, I bought myself an e-reader. I reasoned that an e-book would be lighter to tote back and forth on my daily commute to work—or anywhere else. And I quickly discovered that I liked the darn thing. I especially liked that I could look up the definitions of words with the click of a button. (Nerd alert!)

Then three things happened.

1. I finished my first e-book ( Ann Patchett’s  State of Wonder). The end seemed to come suddenly, because all the way through I hadn’t been able to tell how far along I was. The reader provides a percentage-completed stat as you go, but it’s just not the same as eyeballing the pages before and after the grocery receipt that normally serves as a bookmark.

2. I couldn’t put the book away. Not because I was particularly attached to it. Not because there was no space on the bookshelf next to Patchett’s first book, the lyrical Bel Canto. I couldn’t shelve it because there was nothing to shelve. I was struck with an unexpected sense of loss. Call it library pride.

3.  I couldn’t loan it to my friends. (See #2 above.)

I’ve now loaded a second book on my e-reader, the lauded Freakonomics which I’ve heard so much about. How far have I read? Hard to say.

There’s much to like about e-readers and good, old-fashioned paper books. Fact is, as a reader, I love them both.



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