Nothing quite like a real book but…


Being a bookseller and book lover, I get quite a lot of apologetic looks and ‘ I’m sorry I’m going to talk about e-books and kindles’ or ‘I’m sorry but I love the Kindle!’ type of comments from family and friends. I want to tell them: ‘Don’t be sorry, you have nothing to apologise for. Bring on the e-books and Kindles!.’

You see, even as I love physical books and brick and mortar bookshops, I see e-books and e-readers as adding rather than subtracting from the world of books and reading: they encourage people who for one reason or another do not read much to read more; they save much time by eliminating the common deliberation of ‘which books should I bring on the trip…is that enough or is that too many’; they save us from back pain by saving us from carting around those big tomes of Russian novels; we can read those racy saucy novels on the tube without having to wrap the book in brown paper (or you could counter by saying how would people know I’m erudite, high brow and sophisticated when they can’t see me ploughing through the works of Marcel Proust?) etc.

When Apple introduced the iPad, I turned my nose up at it and said I didn’t need it; I’ve got my iPhone and MacBook and they met my needs. As that was my pre-simple living and minimalist days, I still joined the queue for the new iPad not because I needed it but because as a tech gadget early adopter, I wanted it. I’ve never looked back since as the iPad created situations and opportunities where it was just the right device to use and made life that much more simpler and enjoyable. With the e-books and e-readers, I again turned up my nose and thought ‘no way’ as they would never replace the physical and tactile experience of browsing in bookshops, picking up a book and flipping through its pages and wondering about the inspiration, experiences and memories it has the potential to unfurl.

I started to change my mind last Christmas when I was given a voucher to spend with John Lewis, a major British retailer. I’m glad to say I had a hard time deciding what to do with the voucher as I didn’t want anything – I have everything I need (I’m getting somewhere with this simple and minimal journey!). I started to look at Nooks and Kindles as I thought it might be useful to get one for a couple of reasons: as a solution to simplify and de-clutter my physical book collection further and ‘what better way to know and then use it to discredit the enemy?’ tool. Through this whole e-reader evaluation journey, I started to realize that e-books and e-readers are great for simplifying my physical library, for having books that I would read only once and not again esp. fiction, and for non-fiction and reference  books which I like to refer to on a regular basis and hence would be useful to have it with me most of the time. Being a prolific reader, it also solved the problem ‘ which book/books should I take with me today’ to make sure that all my various genre moods are satisfied at all times.

I started buying and reading e-books but I didn’t buy an e-reader. I use my iPad as a kindle and occasionally when trying to make use of time while waiting, I even read on my iPhone. Thanks to reading on my iPhone, I discovered the pleasure and efficiency of reading in bite-sized chunks: I’m reading in lesser amounts but more frequently and I end up reading more.

There’s a time and place for everything and that’s certainly true for both books and e-books. However, you can’t do the stuff below with e-books and e-readers can you? There’s nothing quite like a REAL book.


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  1. I still don’t have an eReader, I think about it, but use the library for nearly all my reading needs which is free. I have experimented with the Kindle app for PC but don’t enjoy sitting in front of the computer. That being said I can see the advantages of having one. While I pack lightly for trips I never seem to bring enough books with me and have a hard time choosing which ones to bring.

  2. Great that you have the library option. Unfortunately I do like my books brand new. Totally understand about the discomfort of reading in front of a PC- reading docs is quite different from reading books. Having said that, it might be a device issue- never liked reading a book on laptop but find it ok on a tablet.