How do you read?

Ten years ago, maybe even five, this wasn’t even a question. Books were books and you read them. Now people read via ereaders, tablets, phones and all sorts of other techy ways. And paper, of course.

My medium of choice is my kindle. I really, really love it. It’s light, small, easy on the eyes, and doesn’t have the inbuilt distraction of the internet. If you desperately need the internet, it does include an experimental browser, but it’s hard work. It’s like reading a paper book but much more convenient.

My second choice option is my phone. Mostly I only use this if I’m waiting somewhere and didn’t bring my kindle. I can access all my kindle books and read them on it. The screen is small and bright. It’s easy to use for short periods of time but not as a primary reading device.

Third choice is paper books. I am shocked by this. I thought I would be a die-hard paper book fan, and indeed there are a fair number of paper books in my house. Almost all my new purchases are digital, though, and I actually find reading on the kindle easier. I only need one hand and turning pages is less intrusive if I’m knitting or something.

What I don’t have and don’t want is a tablet. I have a laptop for work and a netbook that I like to use for travel or in bed, and so on. It’s small enough to fit in my handbag, but has a proper keyboard and all the normal software that I use. I often use it, rather than the big laptop, for writing on, because it doesn’t require me to be sitting at a desk.

Sadly, it seems likely that both the ereader and the netbook are going to become victims of the tablet’s success. And in theory, I can see why. It would fulfil many of the functions that my kindle and netbook have. But I can’t see myself enjoying using one as much as I enjoy them. The kindle is designed for only one thing – reading books – and it is brilliantly designed for that. The netbook is multi-functional and more useful to me than a tablet. I don’t want the compromise option that does everything a little bit worse.

What about you? How do you prefer to read?


  • My work requires me to read scanned documents on a computer screen all day long, and I have some vision problems, so my vision is pretty well shot by the end of the day. I love my Kindle. I love e-ink in general because of the lack of backlighting that bothers my eyes so much. I love being able to increase the typeface size when I need to. If I can’t read it on my Kindle, it doesn’t get read. I haven’t read a paper book – other than the Bible – in five years. The only reason I still have a wall of shelving full of books is sheer sentimentality.

    There’s also the arthritis factor. I’m older and have a lot of arthritis in my hands, so holding open a paperback book or holding the weight of a hardback is simply misery after 20 minutes or so. I’ve tried various book-holding gadgets but I read very quickly and they’re more trouble than they’re worth.

    I prefer a dedicated ereader for the very reason you mention. It doesn’t occur to me to hop onto the internet to check the weather, baseball scores, or latest cat video when I’m reading from my ancient Kindle.

    I, too, worry about the day when everything is a backlighted tablet and e-ink is no longer available. I’m hoping that e-ink readers and dedicated ereaders continue to be sufficiently popular that a person will always be able to find one.

  • I’m totally with you, Marilyn. I spend most of my work time on a computer screen, too, and the Kindle is a blessed relief. I have a Bible on my Kindle, too, and I find that for devotional reading, I much prefer it to the paper version. It’s handier when travelling, as well. It’s not brilliant for looking up a particular verse quickly, though. You can do it, but it’s slower than by hand.

  • I’m increasingly reading only my Kindle. I agree with all you say about it. It’s light, it’s easy to use, easy to read on.

    I didn’t pay for mine as it was a present but I reckon if I had it would have paid for itself by now by having slightly cheaper books and the occasional free one.

    I still buy books I think I’ll want to refer to in 5-10 years in paper because I’m concerned about device lifecycles and forward compatibility and all that.

    • I do worry a bit about longevity of the ebooks I buy, but probably not as much as I should. I have Calibre which I use to switch formats of ebooks, and as a storage facility for them independent of the cloud. If it gets to the point where I can’t read them any longer, then there will be some I’ll need to replace in paper, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.