I’ve had my Nook for about three weeks now (here’s my original mini-review) and I wanted to add some more thoughts. I have a particularly relevant experience to compare and contrast to, since I just finished A Discovery of Witches for a forthcoming review. After three weeks of reading physical and digital books, I’ve come to a conclusion: I prefer reading e-books. I prefer having physical books.
A Discovery of Witches is a big book: 500+ pages, hardcover, a hefty read by any measure. There were many times I wished I could be reading it on my Nook, resting the much lighter digital reader on my lap while in bed, or propped up on the kitchen table while eating, or easily in a single hand while brushing my teeth. The act of flipping pages with a click or a swipe (the Nook’s digital screen and physical buttons allow for either) was missed. I hadn’t realized how nice it was to not think about bookmarks until I found myself needing them once again.
But (and you knew there had to be a ‘but’ coming) now that I’m done reading A Discovery of Witches, I’m easily able to loan it to friends. While reading it, I was able to turn down pages or circle sections to help remember a passage I wanted to note in the review, or go back to later. Sure, it’s possible to place bookmarks and notes on a digital book, but there aren’t (to my knowledge) a good system of exporting them; they’re trapped on the Nook. Likewise, while it’s possible to strip digital books of their copy restrictions (and I would, were I ever to make such a purchase) they aren’t as easily lendable or swappable.
Which brings me back to the act of reading versus the act of having. I’m still not sure if or when I’ll purchase a digital book, because I’m a pack rat. I really like the act of having. As I said before, if buying a physical book came with a free ebook, my book purchases would increase dramatically. And if there’ s a light summer read, something I doubt I’ll want to go back to, I may end up taking the plunge and spending money on it. Likewise, I’m loving all the books I illegally downloaded, in violation of their copyright. The act of reading those is simply bliss. But I’m not yet sure diving full on into ebooks is worth the plunge.
It makes me think of where digital music was ten years ago: The technology was there, but the licensing wasn’t. There were MP3 players (some good, some not-so-good), there were digital music stores, and there was not a particularly large uptake. But those problems were solved, and now (according to my NPR listening, anyway) legal music consumption is up. I really hope book publishers get on the bandwagon soon, though, cuz they have everything to gain.