are ebooks for lightweights?

portobello beach, edinburgh

june 21012, portobello beach, edinburgh

In a couple of weeks I’m getting away from the mist and rain in Edinburgh (hopefully) and going on a wee holiday. In preparation I’ll be downloading some new ebooks for my e-reader because a holiday for me is as much about catching up on my reading as exploring new places and chilling (in the sun, fingers crossed!). I got the e-reader (AKA my Kindle) as a present and never imagined I’d use it. But from the moment I downloaded my first ebook I was hooked: it’s easy to read from, light, handy and the best bit, I can keep literally hundreds, if not thousands, of books on it, which is especially convenient when going on holidays! That said, I still like physical books. Maybe because I can’t resist buying them if I’m in a bookshop (which is quite often). I also like the feel of the paper in my fingers, daft as that may sound – and it’s easier to lend a physical book than an e-book. It had never occurred to me, however, that anyone would think one reading method was superior to the other, until I read an  article in the Guardian. In it the author Jonathan Franzen is quoted as saying that ebooks will have a detrimental effect on the world (no less!) and “serious readers” will always prefer print editions of books. What a statement!

I read  a wide range of different books, including  genre and literary fiction, but I don’t necessarily prefer reading print editions. Does that make me any less of a serious reader? I don’t think so. Am I wrong?  Have I misunderstood what Mr Franzen means by “serious readers”? Do you have a Kindle or e-reader? Do you like using it? If so, do you consider yourself a lightweight when it comes to reading?  If you don’t have an e-reader, will you get one?  If not, why not? It’d be great to hear from you. And to thank you for dropping by, your name will go in a hat and at the end of the month one lucky person will win either a paperback or an ebook copy of The Blue Suitcase, whichever you prefer!

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23 Responses to are ebooks for lightweights?

  1. Kate Adamson says:

    Eh, it’s all words. I mean, I hate hardbacks and much prefer paperbacks, so you could argue that that makes me a less weighty reader too!

    I am happy with the ecosystem of book types I have at the moment
    – Kindle for travel and for books that are only out in hardback (assuming I’m too far down the library queue to get them in a decent time)
    – paperbacks for anything I see myself coming back to a lot of times. Mostly books of poetry and books about poetry at the moment.
    – my lovely library for anything I will only read once or twice and will read at home.

    It makes me really happy that all of these options exist! When I travelled for work, I used to lug a suitcase half-full of books with me. I can’t sleep on planes, so I’d need at least 2 or 3 books on a long flight. The first time I went out to the US west coast with my Kindle was a dance-of-joy moment!

    • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

      Exactly, it’s all words! And it’s great to have so many options. I’m a big library fan too, we are so lucky here in Edinburgh! Thanks for your comment, I too have danced that dance-of-joy on my first longish flight with my Kindle ;o)

      • Kate Adamson says:

        As a Fifer, I should say that we have brilliant libraries on this side of the bridge too! I cut down my books very substantially a couple of moves ago, and one of my criteria was that I wouldn’t keep any popular novels that I know the library has loads of copies of. It’s like outsourcing my book storage 🙂

  2. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    oops, yes, of course! There are great libraries throughout Scotland and UK – West Dumbartonshire Libraries, for example. The other library services are great too. Last week I went to listen to Jonathan Falla and Leila Abuela discuss their books at the Central library here in Edinburgh (as part of refugee week). It was a really interesting talk – and it was free and I even got a glass of wine for my trouble. Vive the libraries!

  3. Hi Marianne, I think my house must sink about 2cm into the ground each year under the weight of books, and I now have a Kindle too. The Kindle is FANTASTIC for travel – pretty much everywhere is a long-haul flight from Australia – UK is 24 hours in a plane! 😉

    I love to read Jane Austen before bed because it has a calming effect, so I have the beautiful Folio hardcover collection as well as Kindle editions of the whole collection. I hate reading reference works on the Kindle – much faster to flick pages when you need to jump from chapter to chapter.

    Strangely enough, I’ve discovered I prefer my Kindle books to be faster-paced and shorter than in paperback (Jane Austen exempted from this of course). For example, I’d rather read PD James on paper than on Kindle; I enjoy it more when I can wallow in the words on paper.

    I probably am a lightweight (I like to enjoy books rather than endure them 😉 ) but regardless, I think everybody’s experience of paper vs ebook will be different. And to those who like to look down their noses at others :-p I prefer to think that ebooks might ultimately have a positive effect on the world, because more people are reading more books than ever!

    • Kate Adamson says:

      I agree that reference books aren’t good on the Kindle. I know you can supposedly make notes, but it just doesn’t work as well as a real-life post-it! Another thing that makes me prefer having real books if they’re ones I’m going to refer to is that I’m much better at remembering ‘it was in that red book, the one that’s kind of tall’ than actually knowing what the book was. Similarly, I tend to remember visually where some information was on the page, what illustration it was near etc.

      Another advantage of Kindle that I’m definitely seeing with relatives is its ability to make anything into a large-print book! I do like being able to optimise the text size to my own preference.

      • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

        yes, making the print bigger is a big plus, especially if you’ve misplaced your glasses ;o)

    • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

      Hi Belinda, lovely to get your thoughts. I agree, it’s each to their own and the more opportunities there are to read, the better: e-book, paper, hardback comic, e-zine etc, as Kate says, it’s all words, and I like choices. Btw I recently read that ebook sales in the US have taken over sales of hard book covers (and the world as we know it has not collapsed because of it). I also agree with you about reference books, it does seem easier to flick back and forwards to the right page, gleaning extra bits and pieces of information in the process. Cheers:)

  4. The other thing my Kindle is really handy for is reading my Work in Progress… I write in Scrivener so it’s easy to compile the manuscript for Kindle and then transfer it across via USB. It looks quite different on the Kindle screen, and helps me see things I wouldn’t see on the laptop or even in a printout.

    But this probably isn’t helping the case as I suspect my WIP would definitely come under the “lightweight” category. 😉 Just a good old fashioned thriller with a modest body count.

  5. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    Hi Belinda, someone else told me you could do this but as yet I’ve not tried it out. Also, someone else has recommended Scrivener. It sounds like time to check both these things out! Thanks. As for your WIP coming under the lightweight category, well, I like to think of the Mark Twain quote when it comes to judging writing: “My books are like water; those of great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.” :o))

    • Marianne, Scrivener has revolutionised the way I write my lightweight books. ;-D Any longform work in fact. I’m not much given to gushing, but my goodness gracious me I love that program. If you download the free trial and do the inbuilt tutorial, it will give you a feel for whether it’s for you or not.

  6. Kate Adamson says:

    Have you seen Mary Beard’s blog post ‘Moving the Books on the Titanic’?

    • Just read it, what a great post. Some gems in the comments too… I loved the “literary diaspora” of the person whose books are in the custody of various friends and family. But an interesting naivete about ereaders in general among the commenters.

    • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

      Also just read it! Great! Comments interesting too! Funnily enough I have also been trying to have a bit of a book tidy up (hem, I think it comes safely under the heading of procrastination, but anyway …). I don’t have the volume of Mary Beard’s books but my book shelves are overflowing and I am seriously thinking of “outsourcing” the majority of my books to the charity shops and buying them back if and when I want them. I don’t why I am keeping them, especially the ones I didn’t even like much. I sometimes wonder if collecting books can be a mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ;o)

      • Kate Adamson says:

        ‘Book people’ tend to be massively scathing when you talk about getting rid of books, but recently I’ve seen it as editing my collection down so that everything I have is something that I’ve positively chosen to own. Curated, I guess.
        I think academic books (as, presumably, a big chunk of Mary Beard’s are) are very different because of the need to flick through them, and the difficulty in acquiring extra copies. But for general reading of general titles, there’s an awful lot that I don’t need to own myself. Really, I just need to keep reference titles (and not even all of them, given the internet), hard-to-find American and/or out of print books and THE BEST novels and non-fiction which I am still re-reading a load of times, or need to be able to foist on people!

        • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

          Yes, I agree, academic-cum-reference books are needed. I especially love my writing text books and dictionaries and thesauri, even though there are very good online ones. I also tend to make notes on reference books and don’t suppose anyone would want them after me! ha! Like you say, it’s the more general kind of books that could go to the charity book shops. I wonder why it is that we want to keep so many, if it’s not OCD, is it snob value?

          • Kate Adamson says:

            I think it’s there’s a really strong belief in most of us that ‘books are different’ and ‘you can’t throw out books’. Not sure it’s snob value, more how we were taught to think about books (although there is also a part of me that thinks I will be judged for only having two bookcases now so maybe the snobby bit is not irrelevant!)

            I’ve found it difficult to find a satisfactory free thesaurus online and went back to my Collins one from my schooldays the other day!

  7. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    Rudyard Kipling said, “words are, of course, the most powerful drug known to mankind” and while he said it a while ago, i think it’s till pretty much true – the written word being no exception. So, yes, books deserve respect, and I certainly wouldn’t want to burn any (!) but I think passing some on so others can read them is a pretty good way for books to be treated. Anything and everything, including those book sculptures ( did you talk about them in a blog, or was that someone else?) is better than pulping them, which is what happens to an awful lot of books.
    Only two bookshelves, eh? And you a poet too ;o)

  8. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    ha ha ha, nicely said:-)

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