To Kindle or Nook or Not?

by julie swanson

I’ve been torn about whether to get an e-reader. I like reading from real books with paper pages that smell good and that you can highlight on and where you can write notes in the margins. I’ve been told you can highlight and make notes on some readers as well. But what happens if the power goes out, for a long time? If we have all our books as virtual things, and nothing in hard copy, then if catastrophe strikes and the power grids go down, there go all my books and notes. We still need real books, and libraries and bookstores with shelves and shelves of them.

But Steve has expressed an interest in an e-reader, and when I lie in bed with my carpal tunnel bothering me because I’m holding up a heavy book, or when I travel and can’t fit in all the books I want to, the idea of a thin, light little reader really is appealing. Not only that, but if I might publish electronically someday, it only makes sense to see how things read electronically, how that format looks, how stories come across that way. What do they do with maps on endpapers (no more, I imagine, just included as illustrations?), and how do illustrations and book covers and back covers (again, maybe these are no more) look and work? I don’t know! I’ve never even borrowed someone’s e-reader. I’ve been stubborn. I want books, hardcopy books to stay alive and well, so I support them by buying them.

But I decided to get Steve a reader for Christmas, and I’m anxious to borrow it and see what it’s like. Maybe I’ll love it–at least for traveling and reading in bed at night when my fingers/hands give out. I did a lot of research and ultimately decided on a Kindle Paperwhite. I like that it has a light that allows you to read in the dark, but that it’s not so bright (and it’s adjustable) that you’d disturb the person lying beside you. I like that you can read outside in the sun with it, unlike most other computer and reader screens. We already have iPhones and laptops, so I didn’t see the need to pay more (not just to buy it, but the monthly/forever wireless access fee) for yet another way to access the internet, watch movies, do art… We don’t play computer games. All we need is a lightweight, basic reader that we can use no matter what kind of lighting we might find ourselves in. The Kindle Paperwhite fit the bill. I went to the store and held one before I ordered it and it was unbelievably light. Seems there is a Nook product that is very close in price and just about everything else, except that the Nook has ‘hotspots’ because the lighting is a bit uneven.

Did I say I was getting this for Steve? Shhh…