Friday, January 14, 2011

Kobo versus the Good Old-Fashioned Book

I got a Kobo for Christmas. For those of you who may not know, it is an electronic reader that comes loaded with 100 books and that I can add books to for a fraction of the price of buying paper ones at the bookstore. I can also borrow ebooks from the library to read on it. Some say this is the "wave of the future" in books, and it may be true. I'm getting on board, but still not 100% sure I'm convinced.

It was a complete surprise. I had never asked for one because I just wasn't sure whether or not an e-reader was for me. Chris was tentative about buying it for me (I think his primary reason was not wanting to build more bookcases!), and before I opened the package he warned be that I would need to be honest about whether or not I liked it. When I did open it, I was actually surprised by how excited I got over it. I think it was the opportunity to really investigate how I feel about ebooks that got me excited. I mean, I'm the kind of person that walks into a bookstore just to take a deep breath. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books. I love the experience of books. But now I would have a chance to discover exactly what it is that I love the most about that experience.

As I said, the Kobo came loaded with 100 books, primarily classics, that I am thrilled to have at my fingertips. I read a chapter or two of Anne of Green Gables (my favourite) and Little Women (which I am ashamed to say I've never read). But I decided for my first ebook read I would choose something easy and fun, something I knew wouldn't take long and would provide some mindless entertainment. I picked Sophie Kinsella's Mini Shopaholic. I had picked it up at bookstores and Costco before, but since it is still in hardcover it is a bit too pricey for me. The $9.99 ebook price seduced me! I started it in the car and at rest stops on the way home from NB, and I really flew through it, considering I'm not a particularly quick reader. When I finished I realized I really only had one complaint: I couldn't read it in the bathtub!

Yes, of course, I still love the smell of a book. But I honestly didn't miss it while I was reading my ebook. I enjoyed it every bit as much as I've enjoyed all the other Shopaholic books. And the fact is, I don't have to choose. I will always have paper books to read. I have so many good old-fashioned books that I haven't read that I know I'll still be primarily reading paper books for a while. However, the tiny environmentalist in me, the one who reprimands my husband about putting plastic in the trash and remembers to always take my reusable bags shopping, that earth conscious girl knows that if even half the hard core readers in this world bought an e-reader and stopped buying books, newpapers and magazines made of paper we would save a lot of trees. So I'll keep reading paper books. But I am determined not to buy another paper book if it is available as an ebook. And most books are available as ebooks now. I've only found a few that aren't.

I'm sure I'll find other things about the Kobo that frustrate me. Remembering to keep it charged might be a challenge. I will have to be careful not to leave it lying around on the beach. And I will always have to keep a paperback on hand for the bathtub ;). But I think I can live with those minor details. And as for the smell and the feel of a book? Well, Chris told me about a comment he read while researching ebooks before he bought mine. He had read a comment from someone who talked about how important the smell and feel of paper is to the experience of reading a book, and an author responded to the comment by saying something like "I understand what you're saying, but as a book lover I hope you'll acknowledge that the most important component of the experience of reading a book is the actual written word." Can't argue with that.

1 comment:

  1. Are you still loving it as much? It's Feb.1 and I'm catching up on my "reading" !