Sunday Salon: The E-reader Conundrum

Two Sundays ago, I was staring at the check-out page on Woot.com, contemplating a purchase I never thought I’d make, a purchase which that very morning I’d said in a comment thread I was unlikely to make anytime soon. But then a very good deal came along, and I started to rethink. Woot.com (a site that offers one sale each day, usually on some electronic gadget) was selling a Sony Touch E-reader for a mere $99. That price on that reader was enough to make me rethink my own long-held position.

In the end, I decided not to buy it, but spending the day (and the week since) researching e-readers and thinking about my own reading habits has made me much more open to the idea of an e-reader. If that same deal were to come along again, who knows? I may just decide that it’s time.

I’ve never been one of those readers who is in love with the actual printed book. For most books, the printed format is merely a vehicle for getting across a story or an idea. As a voracious reader, I do have some preferences for printed book formats—paperback over hardcover, for example—and I love owning beautiful editions of favorite books. I also love matched sets and publishers who turn their books into things of beauty—like Persephone Books or the Penguin Great Ideas series. But those kinds of books are rarities. For the bulk of my reading, I don’t pay much attention to the physical form. The physical form holds the words that tell the story. That’s what makes it important.

With that philosophy, it seems like I’d be a pretty good candidate for e-reading, but I’ve been extremely resistant to the technology. At the risk of being offensive, I’ll tell you all that the main reason for my resistance has to do with the attitudes of some (some!) of the early advocates of e-reader technology. The glee I’ve seen expressed at the assumed incipient death of the printed book just irritates the heck out of me. Although I’m not married to the printed book form, I simply cannot understand why so many people seem to see its possible end as something to celebrate. (Amy of My Friend Amy and Wendy of Caribou’s Mom both wrote excellent posts this week on some of the pleasures of print.)

Some e-advocates tout the greenness of the e-format, but the jury is still out on whether an e-reader is greener than a printed book. Those who build their argument on the greenness of e-reading lose all credibility with me when they buy multiple readers and upgrade to the latest version at every opportunity. A whole stack of books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper using environmentally friendly inks is surely no less green than multiple e-readers. The green argument only makes sense to me if you’re buying one reader and using it like crazy until it dies.

And the e-reader advocates are doing themselves no favor when they act like spoiled brats over pricing and formats. Have you encountered one-star reviews on Amazon that consist merely of complaints that a book is not available for Kindle or costs over $9.99? I don’t know a whole lot about the economics of book publishing, but I know a bit about the economics of magazine publishing, and I know that printing and distribution are a small part of the cost. The New York Times offers this good run-down of the costs of publishing paper vs. electronic, and it jibes with what I’ve seen in the magazine world. So the whining makes this sliver of e-reading advocates look not just like brats, but like uniformed ones.

However, I know plenty of reasonable people have found e-reading to be a great way to access lots of books that their library may not carry and that they don’t particularly want taking up room on their bookshelves. Sites like Manybooks.net and Project Gutenberg offer tons of free public-domain books, and libraries often loan e-books through Overdrive. Book bloggers and book reviewers can use NetGalley to access electronic versions of upcoming releases. Elaine at Random Jottings recently posted about the pleasure of getting a huge stack of classic novels for her Kindle for next to nothing per book. (She also makes the excellent point that it doesn’t have to be electronic or print; both can coexist peacefully, giving readers a choice.)

Regular Shelf Love readers will probably know that I am forever bewailing the fact that I simply don’t have space for all the books I would like to own or keep on hand for future reading. Being able to pack a massive supply of books onto one small device definitely appeals! Still, with a good library nearby, my membership in bookswap sites, and the opportunity to get the odd review copy now and then, I’m not lacking in easy low- or no-cost access to books I want to read. But I wonder if I would find the experience of e-reading to have some benefits that I don’t get from print.

Andi at Estella’s Revenge posted this week about how the e-reader format actually helps her focus. I can imagine this might be true for me. Like Andi, I’m an obsessive page-flipper. I’m always looking to see how much further I have to go in the book or the chapter. (I have a whole book-marking system for this—because I am weird.) Also, my eyes do sometimes flit around on the page, and I end up skipping paragraphs or reading the same paragraph six times. When I played with a Nook at Barnes and Noble, I really liked how little text you could have on the “page.” Plus, there are days when I have to read lots of small text for work, and my eyes end up tired enough that being able to enlarge the text of my leisure reading would be fabulous!

So when it comes to e-books, I’m coming around. I’ve done a bit of investigation into different readers and decided—thanks in part to Steph and Tony’s thorough discussion—that I’ll probably go with the Sony should the time come soon. The Kindle is out for me because I don’t want to be locked into buying from Amazon. After playing with a Nook, I could go with that if the right deal were to come along. (Not the color, though, it seems hard on the eyes.) But the Sony’s touch interface seems the most intuitive, and I really like the idea of having a stylus for underlining and notes. I could take or leave the wi-fi option. In fact, Sony’s lack of wi-fi could be a benefit because it would stop me from making impulse purchases and downloads.

With over 200 unread books in my house, I’m not sure that now is the time for me to get an e-reader, but I could change my mind anytime—and another good deal may just do it. Either way, I don’t think I’m likely to ever give up entirely on paper books or on physical bookstores. For some books, though, I think I could easily adapt to the new format.

Edited on Monday night to add: Sometimes I find that I can’t stop thinking about a potential purchase, and it’s easier and less mentally taxing just to buy the thing and be done with it. After two weeks of mulling over an e-reader, I decided earlier today that I need to just stop mulling and get next one I found that suited me at a price I could afford. Tonight, I happened upon a Sony PRS-600 Touch on Ebay for $99. It does everything I want an e-reader to do, and the price was right. Because I’m holding firm on the TBR dare, it may be a while before I do much actual reading on it, but I may use it to read a portable version of one of the more massive tomes on my TBR (The Children’s Book?). We shall see.

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50 Responses to Sunday Salon: The E-reader Conundrum

  1. The inability to see how far I am in a book is actually something that makes me antsy with my ereader! Even though I know what page I’m on, I still like the visual. And the fact that I can’t peek ahead easily might bother me a little, too. :)

    Still, I like it, and I’m definitely someone that can have both, I find benefits to both so I hope printed books stick around.

    I read a study done a year ago or so that said ereaders actually slow reading speed down by about 25%. I don’t know that I’ve experienced that to be true for me, but I found it fascinating.

    Also, all those things about gleeful e-advocates drive me nuts, too! Especially the whining over price points.

    • Teresa says:

      I may very well find that not being able to look ahead will end up annoying me, but I don’t know. I recently had to buy a new DVD player and went with one that was so cheap it didn’t even have a minute counter. I thought it would make me nuts to not know exactly how much time is left in a movie, but I’ve ended up liking it. I think not knowing helps me focus on where I am, not on where I’m going.

      But of course, everyone’s experience and preference is going to be different for something like that.

  2. litlove says:

    All the apocalyptic e-advocates are looking a bit premature, it seems to me. The last survey I saw, in The Telegraph, I think, said that 95% of UK readers still preferred paper. I really don’t like the teeny amount of text you get on your ‘page’ at any one time, and the kindle (which in all fairness is the only device I’ve ever actually held in my hands) has a sludgy gray screen that I didn’t find enticing to look at. It’s not for me, but I’m not against ereaders at all, just think they function best as a useful supplement to the book, not as its replacement.

    • Teresa says:

      I agree that it’s premature. CDs are still around today, even if lots of people (like me) get almost all their through downloads.

      And I sincerely hope that print remains the predominant form while there are still people who don’t have broadband Internet access. I shudder to think of printed books dying out while low-income and rural people can’t get high-speed Internet access for downloading books.

  3. gaskella says:

    I’ve only read one book on my Kindle so far and that was a marathon (Moby Dick), but I did like the experience. I’m still getting used to having to remember to bookmark bits you might want to come back to, as it’s not so easy to flip back a few pages, but I do like the e-ink which is very easy to read.

    The next generation ones will be much better I’m sure – with more optimised text, graphics, touch-screens, colour etc. However the Kindle sits nicely in my bag – I’ve always got books (plural) with me now. At the moment I’m sticking to free downloads of classics too which is good for me!

    • Teresa says:

      I can certainly see how an e-reader would be nice for a doorstop like Moby Dick, especially since so many doorstops also have teeny tiny text.

      One of the things that appeals to me about the Sony (which may not be available in the UK?) is that it has a stylus for note-taking and bookmarking, which would seem more like the printed book.

  4. gaskella says:

    Meant to add that I still prefer paper, but the two media can happily co-exist.

  5. I wasn’t that fussed either way about ereaders until recently. I’m a lover of physical books (even a creased spine -unless it was me who did the creasing- sends me into cold sweat) and thought I would stay that way. However, I began to see the advantages of also having an ereader (mainly Steph’s post and my boyfriend has an iPad). It also seemed as if everyone I know received a Kindle for Christmas and now I want one! I’d mainly have it for free Classics (it seems to me that more can be found for Kindle but that is based on little research and just an impression I have from some bloggers and my own searches on iBooks). I like the “Real ink” of the Kindle.

    Anyway, like you it will never be an either or thing for me but I am curious, attracted by free books/availability, see advantages of weight/convenience/library for commuting and travelling and will join the club in a few months.

    • Teresa says:

      I think that here in the US, the Sony and the Nook have more books available, but that may just be because they allow for multiple formats–basically anything except Kindle books. And they also both have the same e-ink as the Kindle (except for the Nook color).

      It may well be a year or more before I join the club, but I’m warming to the idea, just not enough to pay full price for any of the readers out there. I’ll just be keeping my eyes out for a deal. (Still having a vague sense of non-buyers remorse for not grabbing the one last weekend!)

  6. Indians are yet to change. We are still on paper reading!

    As I had mentioned last week, I have started a weekly feature on Sunday, Sharing Poetry With You, where I would be sharing any poem that has made an impact on me. It could be a classic one or a contemporary one, and anything in between. Do check out what poem I share today by clicking on Sunday Salon: Sharing Poetry With You. You are invited to convey your thoughts on the poem posted. In one word or many words..your choice!

  7. Jenny says:

    There are aspects of e-readers that seem very, very appealing to me, particularly what Andi’s said (and others have said the same) about its helping her focus, and then of course the fact that the whole of Gutenberg could be put on an e-reader. At the moment cost is a major issue, but assuming that were out of the way, I feel like not being able to flip forward to the end easily would make a major (and not good) difference to the way I read. I love reading the end! I need to read the end! :p

    • Teresa says:

      Yeah, cost is an issue for me. I could afford one if I really wanted it, but I don’t want one enough to pay the full price :)

      I wonder how hard it would be to read the end ahead of time. Perhaps some readers have a way you can select which chapter you want to read? Seems like a survey of e-reader owners is in order!

  8. I am a eReader semi-convert and just posted to day some reasons I prefer eBooks. I still enjoy real books, but the eBooks are having a lot more PROS for me lately.

  9. I love my paper books and would never fully convert to just using an e-Reader but having one as a compliment to my physical library? I could see doing that, though if you’d asked me two months ago I would have sworn that it would never happen. For me, the allure is having access to all the out of print titles (having seen what Elaine and Eva have loaded onto their readers was the tipping point) and being able to travel without having to devote half your suitcase to books. But, even though they are starting to appeal in theory, in practice I haven’t liked any of the eReaders I’ve looked at or held. I just don’t like the feel of them or reading off a screen. We’ll see how the technology progress and maybe something will eventually come about that will tempt me enough to buy it.

    • Teresa says:

      The travel point is a good one. I don’t travel enough for that to be a big issue, but I have had to buy a new book (or two) on vacation because I run out. Or sometimes the books I bring along don’t quite suit me.

  10. Amelia says:

    I just got my ereader in December (found a deal for a basic refurbished Nook for $100, which sold me). I got one because

    1) I mostly read library books, so I wanted something that could handle EPUB

    2) I had just moved to an area where the library hours are abysmal, and I was racking up overdue fines like crazy.

    3) I am one of those people who likes to have a lot of different books to choose from at any given time, and having them in one little package is great.

    I thought I was going to hate the small screen, but as mentioned above, I actually find that it helps me focus. I have been struggling with concentrating on reading the last few years (maybe because I spend a lot of time online), and I think for me it has changed my reading habits. I also like not being able to skip easily (you can if you want to–but it takes a little work) because that is a habit I’ve wished I could break for awhile. The function I need to get better with is bookmarking–for the first time I am reading a book I need to refer back to earlier pages in.

    So I don’t think it’s an either/or–but it can be a great option depending on your preferences, and anything that helps get books into more hands is good by me….

    • Teresa says:

      Interesting to hear another person say it helps with focusing. I really wonder it that would be the case for me. I think it might.

      The ability to handle e-pub is essential for me too. That’s why I’d only consider the Nook or the Sony, and Sony has the edge because of the stylus and touchscreen. But for the right price, I’d go Nook.

  11. Frances says:

    Apple junkie that I am, I still think that the iPad is the way to go not only for its functionality as an e-reader but for all the other things it does. For instance, I am not overly concerned about the green issues of book production but my magazine and newspaper consumption do make my green self pause for a moment. And they look great, read great on the iPad. And the iPad functions like a mini computer for many things you need on a daily basis and you can easily slip it in your bag.

    You know that unlike you, I am slavishly devoted to printed material – the design of it, its provenance, etc. etc. But I do think all the options to read are incredibly exciting too. The book is not dying. It is just being re-invented. And this has brought about some of the most amazing book design as we begin to differentiate between book as content and book as object even more than in the past.

    • Teresa says:

      I’m not an Apple junkie at all, but for a long time I didn’t see the point of an e-reader as opposed to a tablet like the iPad. Why buy a device that just does the one thing? But I’ve changed my mind totally on that. I think if I had the iPad, I’d be too easily distracted by all the other stuff I could do. I can power down my laptop and put it away if it’s keeping me from reading; not so if I’m reading on an iPad. But, really, I think it’s great that there are so many options!

  12. I find digital books have a niche market that doesn’t include me; I always have my mobile, a book, and my iPod on me on a regular day—another electronic device would just make me feel vulnerable if my bag got stolen.

    • Teresa says:

      I hadn’t thought about that. Then again, everyone around here is so loaded down with devices–and really nice ones–that any thief who got my bag would be pretty sad about the cheapness of whatever I’m carrying since I usually get the bottom-end version of everything electronic!

  13. I’ve been swearing for months that I’d never get an e-reader but I like your arguments both in favor and against. I might consider it someday but I honestly don’t believe print books are endangered — as a librarian, I’ve thought about how long it would take to digitize an entire library! And your point about low-income and under-served populations is a strong one — so many people can hardly afford internet access and computers, it’s ludicrous to believe they’ll be switching to e-readers.

    I personally love the tactile feeling of a book, and illustrations, particularly in children’s books, would never be the same on a computer screen. We have central heating, yet people still have fireplaces. I can’t imagine paper books are going away in the foreseeable future.

    • Teresa says:

      I don’t think they’re in much danger, either. Even if fewer books are printed in the future, there’ll still be plenty already out there.

      And yes, the e-advocates annoy me partly because they really don’t seem to have an conception of people who aren’t connected. It was only in the last year that my mother could switch from dial-up to broadband, and it wasn’t entirely a question of affordability. Broadband simply wasn’t there, even if she’d been willing to pay a high price for it, which she wasn’t.

  14. Wendy says:

    This is a really balanced, very informative post (and thank you for the link to my post about this topic too!). I agree that the “greeness” of e-books is yet to be proven and it not a great argument to eschew paper for digital. I’ve heard good points on both sides of the issue, but like you, I’m still not ready to go e-book. I don’t think we will see paper go entirely by the wayside – I just can’t fathom that (maybe it is pure denial, but it doesn’t seem that the reading public will let their paper books go away without a fight…and even publishers don’t seem ready to throw in the towel on paper…and as you point out, the economics are not that clear cut either). Thanks for all the links in your post…I”m planning to go read them now :)

    • Teresa says:

      Thanks, Wendy! I really enjoyed your post, and it came at the perfect time, since I’d been thinking about this a lot.

      Even if I get an e-reader, I know I’ll still be reading print books sometimes. It’s just the “read and release” books I wouldn’t keep anyway that I’d read electronically.

  15. Sylvie says:

    Great post. You capture many of my feelings on the subject. I used to live with an early adopter who worked for Amazon, so I tried the Kindle the first week it was out and rejected it for many of the reason mentioned here. However, having just picked up a mass-market paperback from our workshelf, I can see how an e-reader would appeal to readers used to that format (from the poor quality paper to the tight spine, it drove me crazy).

    Plus, I’d rather tote along a few extra books on vacation than more chargers.

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve read a fair number of poorly produced mass-market books and the e-paper is much nicer than those. But you make a good point about chargers. And there’s the question of charging an e-reader when traveling overseas where the plug isn’t compatible. Hmm…

  16. Emily says:

    The issue of having so little text on a “page” is actually my number-one turn-off with most e-readers, Teresa, so it’s interesting to hear that for some folks that’s a plus! I just love the feeling of biting into a nice meaty page of text, and reading on such a small screen with such large print is just massively unsatisfying to me. (I’m same way about books that are printed with 2+ spacing between the lines in order to make a novella look like a novel. It just makes me feel like I’m getting less substance, regardless of the actual content.)

    I’m also resistant to the idea of paying for something I won’t own; if I buy a book I want full ownership rights over that copy, which means the ability to loan, re-sell, or give it away if I so choose, and that loans are unlimited in duration and number.

    So, I guess the bottom line for me is that a combination of device and product that appeals to me has not yet appeared. But I do find the evolving industry quite interesting to follow!

    • Teresa says:

      That’s funny because I absolutely love a book with wide margins and a lot of leading between lines. Ahh, blessed white space is my first thought every time!

      I know what you mean about the ownership question. I’ve gotten used to the way things work with downloaded music, and I’ve found I don’t mind that. If I were to get an e-reader, though, I’d mostly use it for free public domain stuff, which is easy enough to download again, and temporary downloads from the library and Netgalley. If I wanted to own it forever, I’d probably still get a paper copy.

  17. Pingback: Thinking of E-Readers | Of Books and Bicycles

  18. Jenny says:

    I love reading e-books but I agree it will never take the spot of reading an actual book. Not being able to see ahead is one of the main things I don’t like. But I like being able to access/buy books right when I’m in the mood to read it and like how no matter how big the book is in real life it’s not heavy at all.

    • Teresa says:

      I really do wonder how much the ability to not see ahead would annoy me. Could go either way, I imagine.

      And yes on being able to carry around a big book. I have a couple of monsters on my TBR shelf and even just borrowing the e-book from the library for carrying around could be a good thing.

  19. Jenny says:

    It’s the travel dimension I like. I don’t travel often (about three times a year) but when I do, I agonize about the six or seven (or sometimes more) books I want to take with me. They are heavy and cumbersome and take up a lot of suitcase real estate. Yet it seems silly to have an e-reader just for traveling three times a year. Maybe they could rent them out at libraries?

    • Teresa says:

      I only take one or two plane trips and year, and I have had to go through that. And an e-reader would mean more choice while I’m there because I could carry a selection.

      I do think I’ve read about libraries lending out e-readers. The iPhone reading apps would be another option. I couldn’t deal with the backlit screen, but Dorothy (in her post linked above) seemed to like reading on it.

  20. Manny says:

    I bought a Kindle about a month ago and while I have not read a long book on it yet, I can see some of the negatives, and they have already been mention: disorientation due to not knowing how long the book is or how far one has to go to the end of the chapter or sometimes even how many chapters. I am also an extensive note writer in my books and while it is possible to write notes with the Kindle, it’s not easy. The reason I got the Kindle was because my house is bursting at the seems with my books and my wife insisted I try to consolodate and ebooks is the only way I can think of without throwing out much loved books. This was an interesting blog. Thanks.

    • Teresa says:

      The bursting at the seams problem is definitely one of the big things making me consider an e-reader. And yeah, I like taking notes sometimes, and from what I can tell, the Sony might have the best way of doing that.

  21. softdrink says:

    Like Jenny, I love my nook for its convenience when traveling, as well as its 24/7 connection to a bookstore (which can also be a bit dangerous at times). But it will never completely replace paper. I enjoy reading on it, but I enjoy browsing bookstores and buying books in print, too.

    • Teresa says:

      If I traveled more, I’d be quicker to buy one, I think. And LOL on the dangerous 24/7 connection. As I said in my post, I think the lack of wifi might be an advantage of the Sony. I can’t handle the temptation!

  22. Trish says:

    This certainly is the topic of the hour, isn’t it! I wrote my Sunday Salon post a few weeks ago about how the thought of losing ebooks saddens me for what we lose in passing things down generationally. Though I learned in the comments that there are some people who don’t quite that same value–which is understandable. I read Andi’s post earlier this week about how reading ebooks is actually helping her read quicker and I admit the thought really fascinates me–especially as I’m a bit of a slow reader.

    One of these days I think there will be much less resistance amongst us all to read electronically. I’ve even seen leaps and bounds in the blogosphere in the past year–seems its more common to find someone who owns an ereader of sorts than not. But I do think we lose something with the loss of paper. And those who argue that books aren’t going anywhere? One day, one day I fear they will. It’s only natural evolution. How many people have an 8track or even cassette player anymore? Even CDs are becoming less and less prevalent as people get their audio electronically. Ohhhh. Gonna go hug a book. ;)

    • Teresa says:

      I remember that post! It was a good one.

      I guess one of the reasons I don’t think paper books are going to go away entirely is that book readers seem far more attracted to the form that music listeners ever were to 8-tracks and cassettes. At worst, I imagine print books would become collectors items, sort of like vinyl is today. I think it will be a long time before that happens, though, but perhaps I’m in denial.

      My worry that print books will become prohibitively expensive because as numbers of books in a print run go down, costs per book go up. At what point will consumers start to feel that? I don’t know. For me, the single most important thing is that books be available in whatever form. But I’m into what’s inside the book, not the book itself–I totally get that not everyone is the same on that score.

  23. Steph says:

    Having had my ereader now for a while, I will say that it hasn’t changed my reading life all that much. It’s made it much easier for me to acquire books without clutter which I appreciate, but I still gravitate towards printed books, probably because I have so many of those that I want to work through! I love the portability of my ereader so it is great for trips, and I love that with the Sony it’s so easy to borrow books from my library. But I certainly agree that it doesn’t have to be an either or proposition – ereaders and “real” books can happily coexist.

    Also, I have no regrets whatsoever with my Sony ereader. Sometimes I lust after the nook color because it’s so pretty, but ultimately I’m so much happier with my Sony. The battery life is PHENOMENAL, it’s super light, and it has great computer integration software. I don’t regret not having wifi or any of those fancy things on it – the fact that it has a touchscreen is more than good enough for me!

    • Teresa says:

      If I were to buy an ereader today, I think it would be a long while before I ended up using it a lot, only because, like you, I have so many books on hand that I want to work through.

      And I’m glad to hear the Sony is still working for you. I’m leaning strongly in that direction because of the touchscreen and the pointy stick. Those seem way more important than wifi.

  24. Stefanie says:

    I’ve got a Kindle2 and like it a lot. I have had it for two years and not bought a single book yet, sticking to free classics has been good enough for me. The only thing I am disappointed in is that I can’t borrow ebooks from my library because it doesn’t support the ePub format. I’m hoping Amazon changes that sometime.

    • Teresa says:

      I’m pretty sure I could read forever just from Project Gutenberg! And the non-ePub format is pretty much a deal-breaker for me, which is why I’m not considering the Kindle. If Amazon were to change its policy, I’d consider it.

  25. Vasilly says:

    I’m a huge book person. I love the look and feel of a printed book. I prefer paperback over hardcover, love a good, creative cover, and enjoy seeing a great font. I even love the smell of new books! But I found myself buying a Kobo yesterday. Why? The $99 price tag is part of the reason. I wanted something affordable. Another reason is because of the many books that NetGalley offers. Many of the books are published by university presses and are very expensive to buy. Three books from an university press equals one Kobo. If I like a book I request and read from NetGalley, I can buy it knowing that I’m not wasting money.

    I think the people who are happy at the thought of books existing aren’t book people at all but technology people. I think those are the people who want an e-reader to be everything else too.

    Another great thing about buying an e-reader is the fact that I can know afford to support indie bookstores. I can’t afford buying a hardcover book at full price from an indie but buying it at half the price as an e-reader from an indie bookstore is something I can do. I’m still not giving up printed books at all though.

    • Teresa says:

      That Kobo deal was tempting. I very nearly went out to Borders yesterday to try one out but in the end decided to go with a used Sony from eBay.

      I think you’re absolutely right that the people who express glee at the decline of the book aren’t book people. And I also think a lot of these tech types really can’t conceive of people who don’t have the kind of online access they do.

      The Google bookstore linked to indies was another thing that did start to make me think more about e-readers. I don’t know that I’ll use it, but it’s nice that the option is there.

  26. Kathleen says:

    When I had an upcoming trip to Germany a few years ago and was looking forward to 11 hours in coach, I finally bit the bullet and bought a Kindle. It was lightweight, didn’t take up any room in my carry on, and I had access to lots of books that I preloaded for the trip. Ever since I find the Kindle is the only way to travel. I still only read printed books at home (for the most part).

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