April 26, 2015 by Wayne.
Right off the bat, I should point out that e-book readers are, for the most part, rarely preferably to regular tree-born books. For me, at least.
So why even e-book
There are, however, a couple of scenarios where an e-reader does have the upper hand. I used to carry around a book in my bag/mobile office, and by the time I was done with it, it was usually pretty beaten up. With an e-reader, you get to avoid fucking up your precious books. Plus you get to carry a whole bunch of books without breaking your back.
It’s also great when you go travelling or when you’re headed away from home for a bit. There’s typically lots of downtime, and it helps to be able to pop out an e-book without having to lug around all the excess weight. Plus if you’re going somewhere interesting, you’re probably going to haul back some “real” books right? No point bringing extra ones on the journey there.
Why not get a tablet that has like apps and shit and can also read e-buk
Reading off an LCD screen is really stressful for the eyes. You have to take constant breaks to ease the strain, plus install shit like f.lux to dampen the negative effects it has on your sleep cycle. By contrast, e-readers have the good ol e-ink screens that mimic ol-school books. Can’t beat that. Unless you get an e-reader with a backlight, in which case yeah you can kind of beat regular books.
Also, having a single-purpose gadget works tremendously well to cut down on the whole short-attention-span jumping-around we tend to do on computers and tablets. Basically, it’s like a book. You can’t do much else with a book other than read it. And it works.
Plus battery on this shiz lasts for a month or so.
What else can I do with it though
Well, you could rig up Instapaper, Pocket etc. to send articles to the Kindle. I haven’t tried the function out yet, and I’m not sure if it sends over articles as a collected digest or as individual ebooks. But I do know that with the proper Calibre plugin, you can sync it so the article’s deleted from Instapaper once it’s sent over to the reader. Pretty convenient.
Other than that, you have direct Goodreads access from the ebook itself. Handy if you’re still using the service, which I’m not. Also, there are some cool functions within the Kindle that let you look up definitions, find context, search wikipedia – stuff like that.
So it IS better than a regular book, if you set aside nostalgia and the “feel” of reading paper pulp and stuff like that
Well, not exactly.
Reference books, for instance, is an interesting topic to highlight. Mainly because you can highlight on most e-readers, and add notes and stuff, but it’s a lot harder to cross-reference than with a bunch of physical books. When I’m studying, I typically draw from a variety of sources and cross-ref them, plus flip to previous pages constantly. All that’s much easier to do with actual books (other than having to lug all that weight around). You could do it with a Kindle, sure, but it’s very annoying.
Hmm, what else.
Oh yeah, there’s the refresh thing too. Basically, it’s not going to be as smooth and seamless to flip a page as it is with a tablet since the display doesn’t continuously refresh. You get used to it though.
And there’s the issue of putting together collections, especially in Kindle. I find that it’s best to make a Calibre library, put that on Dropbox so it’s synced across computers, and just drop in ebooks and convert them if need be. Also, grab some of the cool extensions and add-ons available for Calibre. One of them lets you organize Kindle collections from within Calibre itself. Now all that is great, but it adds another level of friction to the reading experience. On the other hand, you can grab free ebooks from various sources (legal or otherwise), so it’s probably a worthwhile trade-off.
Pictures and photos and stuff don’t render particularly well on the Kindle, so bear that in mind too.
So should I get the Kindle
Probably, yeah. I don’t have the money to buy all 60 Zizek books (or whatever crazy amount he has), but I’m able to slowly work through them thanks to torrents. At the end of the day, I’ll probably end up a couple of physical copies once I can afford them too, since I like stocking my bookshelves. You don’t quite have the same degree of sampling and trying for physical books.
At the end of the day, it’s not an either-or situation (most things in life rarely are). I have a Kindle and it’s been a great accessory, but it’s not here to replace my books. I have a substantial collection of amazing books, and all signs point towards me expanding that collection throughout my life. The Kindle’s just really convenient – and really good at what it does.
So yeah. Get the Kindle.