Around a year ago, I started reading books for fun again after a nearly 10 year hiatus. I was in school non-stop until I was in my late 20s, so once I finally escaped to freedom, I had no desire to look at another book unless it was necessary for my day job. After about a decade, my book aversion wore off and I started reading again with the help of Mrs. Lite Adventurer who has easy access to an excellent library near her workplace.
I normally did not travel with books in the past because they can take up quite a bit of volume, and more importantly because I found I hardly ever read while on vacation; there was too much other cool stuff to do. But more recently I have found that reading is a nice way to pass the time on long flights, so I began experimenting with taking a book with me again. Perhaps the biggest decision in 2018 for someone who likes to read is whether to go with an e-reader – the Kindle being by far the most popular choice – or to stick with the old fashioned print book that’s stood the test of time for centuries.
- You can carry around a massive library in one relatively small and light device
- Ability to read in the dark without an external light
- Dedicated e-readers like the Kindle have impressive battery life for an electronic device
- Instant access to books without having to go anywhere to physically get them
- Requires occasional charging
- Initial expensive cost compared to a typical paperback
- Not as durable as paper (an accidental drop onto concrete for example)
- E-books are expensive for what you get; in some cases more than the paperback version
- You can’t buy a used e-book for $1 at a garage sale
- Will eventually become obsolete, as does all technology
- And the most important con for me… it simply does not provide the same tactile experience as holding a real book in my hands
Old fashioned book Pros:
- Cheap & durable
- Timeless. A book from 100 years ago can still be usable today.
- Future proof. You buy it once and you’re done. I guarantee that someone who chooses to use an e-reader will eventually upgrade to a newer model.
- Self sufficient. Requires no charging, dongles, or accessories to read.
- Easy to share. You can read it, then give it to a friend if you so choose.
Old fashioned book Cons:
- Books are heavy and take up space
- Prone to water damage. I guess this applies to e-readers too, but you get a book wet and it’s pretty much ruined.
My personal preference between these two options is the old fashioned paperback or hardcover book. I do not like e-readers. I used to own an iPad (the original and then the first generation iPad Air) and tried reading on that, but I hated it. I never actually bought a Kindle but have used ones owned by friends. The screens are very nice and much more appropriate to dedicated reading compared to an iPad or a cell phone, but it still didn’t inspire me enough to go out and buy one.
*A brief aside: I’m not an anti-technology guy, but I do have limits on how much technology I allow to intrude in my life. Before I hit my minimalist phase, I owned a wide variety of electronics which took up a lot of space in my apartment, but I was able to gradually reduce everything to just a few main devices: my laptop computer, my phone, a TV, and some small cameras. I sold my iPad a year ago and haven’t missed it a bit. It’s really nice not having to have a million gadgets sitting around the house, each with its own charger cord and connecting cables.*
I do think that most Kindles and other e-readers will eventually end up in the trash as newer models come out regularly, and I don’t have any interest in getting on that upgrade train. The biggest reason I prefer real books, however, is due to the general feel and experience I get when I settle down with a physical tome. It’s a nice way to temporarily escape from the busy-ness of modern day life, and I can’t replicate this feeling with an e-reader. Just personal preference.
I get most of my reading material from the local library, which solves the issue of clutter. I like books, but do not like the hoard that inevitably builds up over time when one frequently purchases books. The number of works I own is a fraction of what I once had, and they can all fit on a single shelf. These are books that I frequently re-read. Everything else I borrow.
When it comes to traveling with books, my strategy is as follows. If I think I’m going to have enough down time to do some reading, I will take a single book. It is usually a paperback since they are generally smaller and lighter than their hardcover counterparts. And if I finish the book while on vacation, I may leave it there at the hotel lobby or some other public place where someone else can pick it up and enjoy it after me.