Sunday, September 4, 2011

Paper or plastic?

I mentioned a while ago that I got a Kobo e-reader, and I thought I'd share some thoughts now that I've had a chance to get used to it. Keep in mind that I have the wireless version that pre-dated the touch, so some of this might be different on the touch.

It's been a few months, and I still have not bought a single ebook. I have bought two paper books. One of them will be passed around a group of friends, but mostly it feels strange to spend money on an ebook. (Yes, I have worked in high tech since 1995. And yes, I do occasionally buy music online. I don't really know why it feels different with a book.)

Having said that, I've never bought many books. I read a lot - if I bought every book I read for $10, I could easily spend $160 - $200 a month on books. And I wouldn't be able to walk in my house. Since I'll read almost anything, I borrow books from the library, friends, and family.

It's definitely not the same experience as a paper book - there are pros and cons to each. Here's what I've found so far.

Paper or plastic?

  • Borrowing library books - Plastic. Much easier, faster, and it can be done from the couch.
  • Returning library books - Plastic. It took me a while to figure out how to do this, but now I love it - especially since Ottawa Public Library only lets you have 10 ebooks out at once.
  • Storage - Plastic. No piles of books around, just one little device. Well, OK, fewer piles of books around.
  • Killing spiders - Paper. Plastic might work for killing spiders, but I suspect it wouldn't work for anything else afterwards.
  • Going back a few pages to reread something - Paper. There's no concept of "It was on the bottom quarter of a left-hand page" with an ereader. And I find turning multiple pages at once really slow.
  • Skipping ahead to make sure an enjoyable character survives the book - Paper. Um, not that I do that.
  • Borrowing books someone else has bought - Paper. If anyone knows how to do this (legally) on an ereader, let me know.
Some books (and again, keep in mind that these are borrowed books, not purchased books) are better formatted than other, and a lot of them are a little too close to the physical book. For example, a lot of ebooks have as their second page an excerpt from the book or some quotes about the author. In a physical book, that gives you some information about whether you'd like the book. In an ebook, it's too late - you already have the book.

I'm really enjoying the Kobo - I'm reading a lot more (even by my standards), but I'm also reading things I might never have come across in a paper book world. I'm also considering figuring out how to make PDFs that work with it so that so that I can move my recipe book onto the Kobo.

Of course, given how splattered some pages in my recipe book are, maybe that's not such a good idea.


  1. I agree completely with everything you have said, and I have the same version of the Kobo as you do, but it is a replacement from my original version which died just before the warranty ran out (phew!)
    I find the battery runs down way faster on this second device than on my first, which didn't have wifi. Even when I turn the wifi off, it is still the same. Have you noticed this too?

    And for lending, I just lent my entire kobo to my Mom for a little while, but I missed having it. Please let me know if you find a legal way to borrow and lend books!

  2. I find the battery runs down quickly if I put it into sleep mode, but lasts a lot longer if I turn off the kobo. I don't keep wireless mode on in general because it just seems like that would be bad for the battery.

    I've borrowed my sister's kobo on occasion, but I feel guilty about it when I do. Since I haven't bought any actual books, she hasn't been interested in borrowing mine. :)