(More on) e-books and me

I dropped this comment into Tor.com‘s “Bells, Whistles, & Books: Going Paperless” thread:

I’m no longer a library user and probably shouldn’t weigh into the digital vs print argument in that context, so I won’t. (Except to say that disposing of the existing p-books is incredibly wasteful and short-sighted: I’m sure that many of these books don’t have a digital counterpart.)

Some of my reasons for choosing e-books over p-books are enumerated in a comment I made on Dear Author and which is reproduced in my blog, and I won’t repeat them here.

I have been a reader for some 40 years and have a huge p-book storage and organization problem which would be even worse if my collection hadn’t been severely culled several times to keep the costs of moving house (internationally) to a minimum. I decided this year to move to e-books and chose the Sony PRS-700 (despite some concerns about display quality), and I’ll address some of the points in the OP and comments upthread from the perspective of a Sony user.

Six months on I find that I don’t miss the tactile experience at all, probably because the Sony is as close to a real book as an electronic device can get: it’s about the same size and weight of a hardback and I can hold it and turn the pages (i.e. press the page buttons) with one hand.

The page number is displayed onscreen (x of y pages), and if I don’t want to flick pages one by one I use the touchscreen and either use the slider or enter the exact page number.

I can resize the text if I want.

I can read several books at once, and when I return to any book, it opens to the page I was reading last.

There are no distractions: the Reader is merely a book-like device with an unused MP3 feature: no WiFi, no Web, no email. Just text and black-and-white images. It does have to be recharged, but each charge lasts more than a week with a 4-5 hour, 7-day usage pattern (I don’t use the backlight).

My books don’t disappear. There is no remote update on the Sony — the Kindle’s weak point — and if there was I’d deactivate it. I have multiple “repaired” backups on CD. I use Calibre (discussion/tips&tricks) to manage my ebook database, convert formats and transfer files between my desktop PC and the Sony.

I’ve bought books at a faster rate than ever before: 87 in the six months since I bought the reader. I get more books for the buck because I don’t have to pay the shipping charges any more, either directly or indirectly.

I don’t intend to dispose of my p-book library, but as long as I can find e-versions of the books I want, e- is the way for me.

Note: This is a slightly updated version of the original post.


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