For the past month I’ve had an eReader which I borrowed from the library. I have previously borrowed an eReader from a friend, just to read one novel, but this time I could really sink my teeth into the experience with 4 weeks and 50 possible novels.
At first I thought I was becoming a convert. It was so nice and light, it even fit into my handbag! I looked on my bookshelf at my hardcover edition of Shantaram (which I could use to press flowers) and felt the lightness of the same book in the eReader. There were some very obvious benefits.
Then a funny thing happened; someone asked me who wrote the book I was currently reading. I had no idea. Each time I pick up the eReader it just had its little red leather cover and opened to my last page. I saw the cover only once fleetingly, and because it doesn’t have set pages, there is no heading with the book name and author on each page. For some reason this unnerved me. It seemed wrong.
The next negative came in the form of an out of the blue (literally) thunderstorm that caught everyone unaware. I had to do the dash home from the bus stop hunched over my bag in an attempt to protect the eReader from the rain. I later had a similar problem in a social situation being afraid to leave my bag on the pile in case anyone crushed it. eReaders are much more delicate than books.
The final decision maker for me was the late night dash to finish reading a book when the eReader was due back at the library. It is an exercise in organisation to skip ahead to find out when the next chapter break is without losing your place. I also couldn’t tell if 85% complete meant I had 15% more story to go, or if there was 5% of story to go and 10% of acknowledgements, photos and ‘also in the series’ pages. I like to know these things, it shapes if I’ll go to bed or if I’ll just stay up a bit longer to finish it off.
So despite the convenience, I’m actually looking forward to going back to a real book. A book which you can flip forward and back in, which you can shove violently back into your bag when you realise the bus has just pulled up to your stop, and where it doesn’t matter how many times you squash it, the story is still there.