Back in December of 2011, I very grudgingly decided to purchase an e-reader. A life-long advocate of physical books, I finally decided to give digital reading a try. I knew the benefits: fewer books meant fewer trees were cut down; e-readers provided access to a ton of free or cheap novels and textbooks; carrying a tablet in my bag was a lot easier than lugging around whatever giant hardback I was currently reading. Plus, Best Buys was having a sale. And so I embarked on the world of e-readers.
I hated every minute of it.
I mean that quite literally. I absolutely hated that e-reader. It's currently gathering dust in my old bedroom at my parents' house, and every time I see it I get angry. Even convincing myself that I was helping to save the environment wasn't enough of a reason to use it (though the jury is still out on whether or not e-readers are actually greener than books), and I once made it my mission to produce no more than a jar full of trash a week. Hear that, e-reader? You convinced an environmentalist that cutting down a ton of trees was preferable to using you.
To be clear, I don't just hate my e-reader because I'm some kind of book zealot (though that is partially the reason). I also have some issues with the nature of the e-reader and the problems that go along with that (technical errors, difficulties using them in class, etc.). I get why some people love their e-readers, but for the reasons below I'm sticking with regular books.
1. I can't show off my impressive bookshelf
I take great pride in my bookshelf. Thanks to five years of studying English literature combined with a lifetime of stockpiling used novels, I own A LOT of books. And I like to show them off! I'm not really a #shelfie person, but I do love seeing the looks on my friends' faces the first time they realize how many books I actually own. Plus, I finally figured out a pretty solid organizational system: I group them by region (American lit, Brit lit, world lit, and fantasy) and then by author within that region. I can't do that with an e-reader!
2. I don't have to charge regular books
When I studied abroad, I decided to bite the bullet and buy an e-reader so that I didn't have to pack an extra suitcase filled with books. I knew I would want to read on long trips, but wouldn't have room to pack a bunch of novels in my backpack. Thus, an e-reader seemed like the perfect solution. Until, that is, I was on an 8-hour bus ride between Oxford and Newcastle and my e-reader died right in the middle of the journey. Or the time it went on the fritz during finals season, leaving me without access to all of my required reading. You know what won't lose their charge or bug out on you? BOOKS.
3. It's a pain to try to follow along with other readers
I will give e-books one advantage: they tend to be cheaper than regular novels. And if you're looking to read the classics, a lot of them are available for free, which is awesome! However, if you're a student looking to use your e-reader in class, good luck following along with everyone else. I bought most of my required reading for my e-reader one semester and found myself at a complete lost in class, scrambling to find the corresponding pages that my professor was referring to. Obviously this doesn't matter if you're reading on your own, but if you're using your e-reader in class or as a part of a book club or something more social, I'd recommend getting the actual book.
4. I can never find the sections I'm looking for
This goes hand-in-hand with the section above, but even when I read on my own I often find myself flipping backwards to remind myself of certain developments. For instance, right now I'm finally getting around to reading the A Song of Fire and Ice series, so I'm constantly revisiting past sections. Otherwise I could never keep my story lines straight! I tend to have trouble locating pages and passages on an e-reader; maybe because I'm a very visual learner, I tend to find it easier to look at a stack of pages and remember roughly where the section I'm looking for is. This may be a completely personal problem, but it's one that has always caused me a lot of frustration.
5. After a long day at work, I don't want to look at a screen anymore
My non-Bustle full-time job involves me starting at a computer screen for several hours every day. By the time I come home I just don't want to stare at a screen anymore. So, before I start my nightly writing, I always give myself at least an hour or two with a book to give my eyes a rest (and to catch up on my reading, of course). I worry about the effect too much screen-time will have on my eyes, and do my best to incorporate activities in my day that keep me away from my computer and phone. Relying on an e-reader would mean that almost my only non-screen time would be sleeping and cooking. For the sake of my eyes, I'm sticking with a physical book.
6. I like to lend my books out
If I'm really excited about a book, I want to lend it to everyone that I know. I'm always trying to convince my boyfriend to read my favorite books, and I love swapping novels with my bookworm friends. I just want to share the love! While I know that many e-readers gives you the option of sharing your e-books with others (which is admittedly cool), most of my friends are as anti-e-reader as I am. So, unless all of us book luddites decide to come around, I'm going to have to stick to lending out hard copies.
7. I refuse to abandon libraries
Libraries have been my happy place since I was old enough to have my first library card. I remember my mother telling me, "We both read too much to be able to afford all of the books we want. That's why libraries exist." I have spent hours wondering through libraries, picking up interesting book after interesting book until I have a stack taller than I am. I love randomly scanning a bookshelf and finding a novel that could become my new favorite book. Libraries are a place of infinite possibilities. Sorry, but scrolling through available e-books online just isn't going to cut it.
Images: Dawn Foster/Bustle, Giphy (7)