Even Bibliophiles Should Give e-Readers A Chance

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

I have a confession: I have an eReader, and I sort of love it. As a self-professed bibliophile, this is a painful admission to make. Have I betrayed my book-loving brethren? Shall I be cast out of used bookstores forever as a wretched blasphemer? I’m sorry; I can’t help it—it’s just so handy sometimes!

Although I am willing to admit that eReaders are not the vile instruments of Satan that some people think they are, I am not a total convert, either. There are certain things about traditional books that are irreplaceable, and I’m not just being sentimental about how they smell (although books do smell wonderful, don’t they?). One major flaw of eBooks, for example, is that you can’t easily lend them to other people. One of the best parts of reading a good book is making all of your loved ones read it, too; eBooks feel rather stingy by comparison, locked inside a single, not-inexpensive device.

That said, I simply can no longer deny that, in some situations, eReaders are just darn useful. You’ll have to pry my regular books from my cold, dead hands—but that doesn’t mean I don’t also keep a Kindle nearby. Here are a few ways that eReaders can make your life a little easier:

1. They save space when you’re traveling

I love to read when I’m on vacation, but with airlines nickel-and-diming every pound of luggage, I can’t travel with an extra suitcase just for books. EReaders are great for traveling when you’re trying to keep things light. You can keep hundreds of books on a single device.

2. No one can see what you’re reading

I am not ashamed to admit that I love trashy romance novels. Go ahead and judge me! I do not care! I also sort of love the uber-cheesy, sextastic, and generally terrible covers that they often sport, but that doesn’t mean I want to be flashing images of naked Fabio all over the subway. With an eReader, I can indulge my taste in time-traveling Viking romances (or, you know, whatever) with no one the wiser.

3. You can rent textbooks

Amazon has started renting electronic editions of some textbooks and scholarly books at very reasonable rates. As any student or academic knows, scholarly works can be crazy expensive, so any way to pay less is worth it. You can also make notes and highlights wherever you’d like, something that tends to be discouraged with library books.

4. You can get old books for free

Books that are out of copyright can be downloaded from sites like Project Gutenberg for free. “Free” is pretty hard to beat. (If I read a classic novel from my eReader and really like it, I’ll often go buy myself a print copy. Is that insane?)

5. You get books instantaneously

If you’re reading a particularly addictive series of books, sometimes there is just no waiting for your next trip to the bookstore or library to pick up the next installment. If you need to know what happens right now!!, eBooks can give you the fix you need.

6. If you have a phone, you have a book.

Electronic books can transfer seamlessly between your eReader, your computer, and your smart phone. This ability comes in very handy when you’re faced with an unexpected wait. Let’s say your doctor’s appointment is running two hours late: annoying, to be sure, but at least you’re not stuck wiling away the hours with 6-year-old copies of Highlights—if you have the Kindle or iBooks app on your phone, you can read whatever you’ve got going on your eReader. The book will even automatically open from the place you left off.

Sure, it still doesn't beat the smell of actually flipping pages, or the comforting thud sound of laying a book on your nightstand before falling asleep, but it's also nothing worth hating.

Images: Sean Kelly, M Sullivan/Flickr (2); Giphy (3)