It’s certainly been awhile since I last blogged here. I could tell you it’s because I was writing copy all day for FortisBC all summer, and coming home to proofread reports and articles for my freelance clients. Or because I was hard at work researching organic dining spots. But the real reason is, other than taking sanity-restoring bike rides, I’ve had my nose stuck in a book. An e-book reader.
I waffled about getting an e-reader in the past … you can’t take it where things might get messy (like a cookbook) and most e-readers don’t display highly visual books or magazine layouts very well (tablets are starting to change this, however). Then I got bogged down in deciding what kind to get – in Canada, the big three choices are Kindle, Kobo and Sony Reader. But on my birthday, the choice was made for me when my husband presented my with a lovely pink 5-inch Sony Reader, which I’ve accessorized with a matching pink case with a booklight.
And I am loving his choice. The Kindle is the big name in the e-book game, but you can only buy (some) content from Amazon and they don’t offer library borrowing capability in Canada (yet). The Kobo uses the more universal epub format as well as PDF, but I am personally conflicted on supporting Chapters/Indigo, having been a bookslave in that empire previously. The Sony Reader, as it turns out, offers lots of titles through its online store. And like the Kobo, Sony Reader lets you download public domain books for free from a number of sites (hello, Project Gutenberg) and borrow books from the public library.
Sony just came out with a Wi-Fi edition of the Reader, but I like my non-Internet-connected Reader just dandy. I download books to the software on my computer, plug in the device, and then transfer the content manually. Borrowed library books are automatically returned at the end of the borrowing period (up to 21 days). And as my local library recently found bedbugs in several books and had to shut down and fumigate, I am even happier to borrow virtual books.
The reading experience itself is great: no backlighting on the screen prevents eyestrain, I can zoom the text to granny-size large print, and I can turn pages by flicking my finger across the touch screen. The drawbacks are that all the books are in the same font and the design isn’t optimum – big gaps sometimes appear between words and every once in a while there is a random hyphen in a word, perhaps a line-break hyphen someone forgot to take out when reformatting the print edition. I believe some of these problems have been solved in the newer Wi-Fi Reader; I haven’t had direct experience with Kindle or Kobo.
Frankly, I was worried before about what e-books meant for the publishing industry, but I’m now a convert. And according to most released sales figures and trends, e-books are outselling hard copy versions in many categories. Of course, there’s some hand-wringing over whether everyone can afford a reading device to access the content (maybe that’s a weird Canadian quirk, throwing wet blankets on new exciting ideas and worrying about what it all means), but with e-readers coming down in price and content costing about half as much as hard copy versions, I think they’re here to stay.
I, however, will try not to let that pretty pink device distract me from blogging for so long again. Even if The Night Circus is totally amazing.