Mind the Gap weekly writing challenge: Books vs eBooks

This week’s Mind the Gap: How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand?

I have a Kindle which was given to me as a gift last fall. It is the most basic Kindle, but I find it convenient for carrying to work or on trips, where I can have a lot of books or magazines stored, yet it is small and lightweight. For travel, I would say an eReader is essential these days – two years ago I went to Spain and while there, I purchased some books. Plus I still had the books I’d brought with me because I didn’t want to leave them behind. I ended up having to pay extra for overweight luggage due to having so many books!

If I buy children’s books for school, of course I would have to buy the physical books, but a lot of weight could still be saved because I had downloaded my personal reading material onto my Kindle.

That said, I still prefer actual physical books. There are many advantages: First, on a Kindle, you can’t see what page you are on. It just has a line on the bottom with a percentage, so for example, I’ve read 18% of the book I’m currently reading. This makes it difficult if I want to go back and refer to something I read earlier in the book. I do this a lot!  I also don’t get to see the cover of the book and I can’t flip through it before I buy it either. In fact, I don’t even remember the name of the book I’m currently reading! I just turn on the Kindle and it goes straight to the page where I left off.

Highlighting is possible on a Kindle, and in some more deluxe types you can actually write margin notes, but although it says how to do this in the tutorial, I can’t get that feature to work. I also want to shut off the highlighting by other people, but I can’t do that – I can only turn off the number of people who highlighted that passage.

In a physical book, you have pictures sometimes, you can use post-it notes to mark favorite or important parts, and you can do your own note-taking or underlining (I always use pencil!). Also, a physical book can be a conversation starter. Maybe I’m waiting for a train or a bus, or I’m on a commuter train, in a doctor’s office, or wherever people entertain themselves while waiting. Someone might see the cover of my book and inquire about it, or I may see theirs and ask them about it. Maybe that person is reading a book I’ve been meaning to read myself, but have forgotten or never got around to it. This is a good chance to chat a little about the book, spark interest, and then remember to buy or borrow it. I might borrow it from that person, if she or he is a friend, and then I don’t have to buy it. If I like it well enough, though, then I might buy my own copy.

Which of these captures your interest?
Which of these captures your interest?

Books take up more space, either in luggage or on a shelf, it’s true, but what could be more relaxing than spending an afternoon browsing in a bookstore or library? And I still like to sit in bed at night, a book propped on my knees. And last of all, the books I most cherish remain on my shelves, so that I can take them down again, reread them, or just enjoy remembering them.

One of my several bookshelves
One of my several bookshelves

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