I had told Smita and Shilpa two of my great blog buddies that I would do a post on e-readers because I was seriously convinced that I would buy one. Now that I have got a tablet for myself with primary objective of switching my reading digitally; I feel that I am ready to do a post as I have experienced the digital reading first hand.
It was a very tough decision to let go the habit of buying the physical books and switch to digital formats. As a matter of fact I remember in one of the posts I had written that I would never like to switch to digital reading but then people change over time. As any change you bring about there are both positive and negative aspects of switching your reading digital. To provide an objective perspective I will enlist the advantages and disadvantages of reading the books digitally.
1- Space: The space crunch especially for people living in the apartments is a perennial problem. Just to highlight the economic impact, ideally a physical book takes around 0.25 SQFT of space and the rentals in Bangalore around Rs. 15/SQFT/month, keeping a book for a month costs Rs. 3.75. For a person like me who has a collection close to 500 books presently, I am paying close to 2000 bucks for keeping the books. This was the major motivation for me to make the switch, after exhausting almost all the space I had in my home for books I didn’t have place to keep the new ones.
2- Convenience: A tablet or a reader can hold multiple books at the same time so you can carry all of them with ease while travelling. You save yourself from the task of selecting what books to carry when you are on the move; also it reduces the baggage weight which is of paramount importance in flights. There have been times that I actually had to discard books on the airport because airlines were expecting me to pay Rs 300/Kg for the excess baggage.
3- Privacy: A lot of times while reading you would not want the world to know what you are reading. Online reading ensures that anybody passing by doesn’t know what you are reading. I got a lot of weird stares from people in general when I was reading 50 Shades of Grey, so digital reading might save me some unwanted attention.
4- Maintenance: Keeping the books and shelves clean when you have so many books is a herculean tasks which is not required for the tablets. Also disposing books is also not an issue you can simply archive and retrieve when you want to read again.
5- Multiple Devices: I have multiple devices like a smart phone, tablet and a laptop whatever I am reading is available and synced on all the devices. So no matter where I am I would have my reading material. There have been times when I have gone for a meeting and had to wait for the other person. I wasn’t carrying my tablet but I continued my reading on the phone and once I reach home I can continue the book from where I left on my phone.
6- Reference & Sharing: You can easily bookmark pages, refer to dictionaries and share lines/quotes directly with just few clicks which make the reading a more fulfilling experience. In physical books to do all this you have to ear mark books, sit with a dictionary and a computer which is cumbersome.
1- Look & Feel: It takes a bit of time and effort to get adjusted to reading on the digital formats. For me the Sepia mode on the tablet worked very well. However, if you still feel that you don’t like the backlit displays try Kindle Paperwhite (in India it is available for Demo in Croma) which is closest to the real paper.
2- Handling: The tablets and e-readers are electronic devices and their handling has to be more delicate compared to books.
3- Lending: I am not sure if this is a advantage or a disadvantage but being digital you cannot share or lend your books J
4- Lack of Books: This is a problem when it comes to Indian Authors, not all titles are available online. Sometimes the Indian books are ridiculously priced too, for example Sidin’s latest book “Who Let The Dork Out” was initially priced at 10.58$ while the physical on flipkart is Rs. 121. Though later the prices were rationalized at 2$ but this kind of discrepancies exist.
5- Charging: The digital format requires charging of the devices at regular interval. Though there are some Kindle devices which last for a month with a single charge but overall most devices need constant charging. The devices I have used are fine if you charge them once in couple of days and I haven’t been left stranded without charge till now, so I guess it is not a deal breaker.