Essay

Why I Started Reading E-Books (And Why You Should Too!)

Devanshi Jain

December 1, 2017

Most readers fall under one of two categories – those who read only print books and others who read only e-books. For the longest time, I was strictly in the “no way am I ever going to shift to e-books” camp. My reasons were simple- the sensory experiences of reading print books: I enjoy the smell of paper, especially that of old books. I love to look at the cover, often buying a more expensive edition of the same book because the cover is prettier or more appropriate. The familiar rustle of paper as I turn the pages and immerse myself in the book is one of the sweetest sounds I’ve heard.

Exchanging books with friends, borrowing from libraries, and straining to see what others are reading by trying to sneak a peek at the cover are all physical experiences I associate with books. It is also these physical experiences that help me emotionally connect with books.

With printed books, I feel like I actually have something tangible- something to display and add character to my room. I have thousands of books littered around my house, which remind me of what I’ve read or still have to read.

When I walk into someone’s house, I make a beeline for their bookshelf, run my fingers along the spines and usually end up finding at least one book I’ve already read. We then talk about memories associated with that particular book or how it has made a difference in our lives. We discuss the merits of books we’ve read, extrapolate theories and respectfully debate the themes discussed. Not only do I emotionally connect to books but also use them as a conduit to forge connections with others.

Losing a favourite book, donating or even swapping one I no longer want, is an emotional experience. However, I think nothing of deleting a book off my iPad with the touch of a button.

Having said that, e-books cannot be dismissed, largely for the convenience they offer.

Over the past few years, due to my largely nomadic lifestyle, I have had to shift to e-books in order to always have a book at hand. I started off by lugging a few books with me everywhere I went but found myself out of reading material fairly soon. As someone who needs to read every day, this was unacceptable and e-books were a practical solution. I could download hundreds of titles, never run out of books to read and also be able to carry my favourites with me. I began by reading on my phone but now use the Kindle app on my iPad as the larger screen is easier on the eyes.

What I like most about reading e-books is access to thousands of books, which are not available in print. The Kindle store has some great self-published books and with my subscription to Kindle Unlimited, I can experiment freely.

I have discovered some fantastic reads through trial and error. Whether it is the noir detective series by Renée Pawlish, reminiscent of The Maltese Falcon or Clara Benson’s mystery novels set in a Downtown Abbey-esque setting, replete with trademark British humour. Then, there is the whole new genre of cosy mysteries, typically set in a small town with the protagonist unwittingly stumbling onto murders and then going about solving them. Intended as feel-good mysteries, despite dealing with the darker side of humanity, they are my go-to when I want to read something light and quick with a simple plot.

However, I still prefer to read certain books only on paper. I am better at making connections and at retaining what I read on paper. In a study, where subjects were given a 1000-1200 word text to read with no restriction on how long they can take to read it, participants who read it on paper were able to remember the information better than those who read it on a screen. Personally, I find it more useful to read reference material, non-fiction and books with complex plots on paper.

For me, it is no longer a question of which one I prefer but about how I can make both a part of my life. Here are some tips if you want to explore e-books:

  1. You don’t need to own a Kindle to read e-books. You can download the Kindle app onto any, or all of your screens and read on it. You can also shift seamlessly between devices.
  2. Start by reading some light fiction instead of a complex book like The Fountainhead.
  3. Sign up for Bookbub or The Fussy Librarian to receive a daily newsletter notifying you of deals on popular books in the genres of your choice. Sometimes, you can even get these e-books for free!
  4. Once you’re a few books in and ready for a bigger commitment, sign up for Kindle Unlimited and explore the catalogue to borrow obscure books and authors you’ve never heard of.

Give e-books a chance and make them a part of your life. Not only will you save a lot of money but you will also be able to carry around 1000s of books with you! Remember, print books and e-books are not mutually exclusive- you don’t have to pick sides; instead, pick what works for you based on the situation.

Do you prefer to read printed books or e-books? Why? Have you tried reading an e-book? How was your experience? Tell us more!

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Devanshi Jain

Devanshi Jain

Devanshi has been reading ever since she can remember. What started off as an obsession with Enid Blyton, slowly morphed into a love for mystery and fantasy. Even her choice of career as a lawyer was heavily influenced by the works of Erle Stanley Gardner and John Grisham. After quitting law, and while backpacking around India, she read books on entrepreneurship, taught herself web design and delved into social media marketing. She doesn’t go anywhere without a book.

She is the founding editor of The Curious Reader.