Old School Reading: On Paper

As a Kindle devotee, I’ve been reading e-books nearly exclusively since December 2010 when my husband gave me one for my birthday. Even before that I was happily using the Kindle app on my little iPod because it was just so easy to zip through a book in e-format. I did discover that electronic is not so great for non-fiction–there’s no easy way to flip back and forth to and from the endnotes–but it’s a dream for fiction.

By happenstance, I’m in the middle of reading a non-e-book, the second book in a row in paper format. In the case of the first one, I was at a fabulous indy bookstore, The Avid Reader, in Davis, California. I mentioned to the bookseller that I was a local author, and I told her about Tankborn. She promised to get at least one copy in stock. It seemed only right that I buy a book at the store, and when I spotted a trade paperback edition of Jasper Fforde’s One of Our Thursdays is Missing, I snapped it up. If you haven’t read any of Jasper Fforde’s delightful Thursday Next books, you must check them out. Start with The Eyre Affair. It’s a wacky fantasy that draws heavily on Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

After finishing One of Our Thursdays is Missing, I moved on to a hardcover edition of Mette Ivie Harrison’s YA fantasy The Princess and the Hound. I met Mette at the Life, the Universe and Everything conference in Orem, Utah. We shared a fabulous Thai dinner one night, then she was kind enough to drive me to the airport to catch my flight home. Along the way to SLC airport, we agreed to exchange author’s copies of our books. She sent me The Princess and the Hound and I sent her a couple of my backlist romance novels. I’m loving Mette’s book with its very unique take on magic. It’s a very hard to put down story. And isn’t that a gorgeous cover?

What I’m rediscovering about reading hardcopy is that it has some definite advantages over the electronic versions. First, it’s far easier to see where I am in the book (somehow, the percentage on the Kindle doesn’t cue me quite the same way). I think I emotionally pace myself as I read, thinking differently about the story at, say, the half-way point than I do three-quarters through. It’s easy to flip through to find how many pages to the end of the chapter so I can decide whether to keep reading or to turn out the light and go to sleep. It’s a piece of cake to turn back to some previous part of the book to recall who a character was or to refresh my memory if it’s been a day since I last read the book.

There are downsides to paper too. A paper book is heavier than the Kindle, particularly the hardcover. I like to be able to hold a book in one hand (sometimes I’m doing something with the other, like eat lunch) and that’s easier with the Kindle. It’s easier to turn the pages on the Kindle. And if I set the Kindle down, it might timeout, but it will keep my place. A paper book will often close itself if I have to set it down quickly. If I haven’t stuffed a bookmark in there, I have to search for where I left off.

So I suspect I’ll still be reading the bulk of my books on my Kindle. But I’ve realized I enjoy reading the occasional paper book. Particularly when it’s autographed by the author, like Mette’s, or full of clever illustrations, like Jasper Fforde’s. It’s lovely to have the option though, to go either way.

What do you think? Die-hard reader of books on paper? Or are you loving using an e-reader? Drop me a comment and let me know.

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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