I’m not a digital book convert in the way the title to this post suggests. However, unlike Lucy (you can read Lucy’s opinions on why she’s not converting to digital books here) I have embraced e-book readers and apps.
Within a year of Amazon’s Kindle being released in the UK, I had been gifted one for Christmas. It was something I had been hinting that I wanted. On Christmas Day I downloaded a few free classics and bought Mira Grant’s Feed, a zombie novel, which I breezed through and thoroughly enjoyed. Here was a novel about the digital news age and here I was reading it on a device that was about to send the UK publishing industry into heart palpitations.
So when I finally got my first smartphone and realised that Amazon had released a Kindle app on Android, I eagerly downloaded it so that I could read my books across several devices. After all: I didn’t always have room for my Kindle, but I almost always had my phone on me. Depending on bag sizes when going out on my commute to and from work or going on long trips, I juggled my reading between by Kindle and my phone and would always keep an eye out for deals on books in my favourite genres or by my favourite authors.
And just like Steam sales, I would often pick up more books than I could possibly read or bought books that I already had in a physical format. Then I got myself an Android tablet and started buying loads of digital comics – I am one of those impulse purchasers I mentioned in my recent piece on Comixology, while continuing to get TPBs (as shown in the top pic).
Convenience vs. price
Notice how I mentioned that sales were often a deciding factor when buying digital books? Generally, for me, there are two things that sway me when it comes to buying digital books or comics: price and whether I need the convenience of instant access. There has been some pretty darn iffy e-book pricing in the past by publishers, as in the price being a tad too similar (if not the same or more) as the physical edition of a book and when something I’ve been after has been priced in this way, I’ll then see if I can get the print edition cheaper or just buy it second hand… unless of course I need the book ASAP, because – research/I’m about to board a train.
Yet there is another place where convenience and price come into the fray… actual, in the flesh bookstores. There are times when my local Waterstones is going to end up as the better investment: buy one, get one half-price being the main one and similar offers. And because I still have to buy physical books for most of my family members when I buy them a book as a present, I can get some pretty good point levels added to my Watertone’s card and stamps to my stamp sheet, which will all end-up being used to buy books on offer that I want.
I can get why Lucy enjoys holding and reading from a physical book, the whole tactile experience, but I suppose space is also an issue. Before e-books became a thing, I would rarely buy books on launch, so I don’t have many hardcover versions of novels. And of the ones that I do have as hard-covers I find two particular problems with them: often they’re too heavy to hold and they take-up too much space. But even the paperback versions of some books should carry their own health warnings.
Early last year, I finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin, which had been my go-to commute book for months and a bed time companion. That book is over 700 pages long, so imagine trying to hold that in the confined space of a train or having that rest on your chest or stomach in bed – nightmare. Instead I’d bought a digital version of it and read it between my Kindle and smartphone and I am so glad that I did. And while I did buy A Dance with Dragons hardcover (it was on offer on launch), I’ve been loath to read it due to its physical size, but I haven’t wanted to re-buy it digitally. About the only useful thing I’ve ever managed to do with it can be seen in my avatar pic on this site.
By the way, if I had physical copies of all the digital comics I’ve read – I’d need to use the spare bedroom to store them.
Two of the things I love about reading books on a Kindle is being to adjust the size and presentation of a book’s text and being able to look-up words for their meaning. I might be an English grad, but that doesn’t mean that I understand every single word in the English language. When you’re reading a fictional text that isn’t something from the Penguin Classics collection (which have extensive footnotes on a lot of the archaic terms used in each novel) and you don’t know what a word means you can just select it and the reader’s dictionary pops-up an explanation. To me, that beats having a great big dictionary beside me at all times.
Why I dig digital books
Living where I do and with the reading habits I have, buying e-books and digital comics makes a lot of sense, a lot of the time. I don’t drive (yet), so I’ve got to pay quite a bit to get near the nearest Waterstones by public transport to a purchase book the same day I decide to buy it. And there’s no comic book store in my nearest town/city (the capital of Cornwall), so I’ve never really gotten into buying singles . Convenience is definitely the main reason why I end-up buying digital versions of books and comics and good deals on price is another.
But they won’t fully replace physical books for me, for the reasons I’ve stated above.