In praise of paper free reading

clip_image002Confession time – I am a bibliophile; a “bookworm” since the age of three when my mother taught me to read.  There are piles of books all over my house – my dream would be to have my own library where my precious collection falls easy to hand instead of being here somewhere, if only I can remember where.

However, I’m increasingly abandoning the delights of traditional books in favour of multi-media options, notably digital books via iBooks and Amazon Kindle online stores and audiobooks (more for in-car listening, but also on the iPad and other devices).

At present, I find business/PR books available using these media to be rather disappointing (few available and often badly read audio versions) – although the ability to load pdf documents onto the iPad is a great support for the masses of academic journal articles I need to read for my PhD.

But it is the novel that has transferred best onto my iPad and in-car system.  I love being able to download a new book and flick-read through the pages.  Likewise, a long journey (I’ve just returned from visiting my mum in the Pyrenees which is a 12 hour drive in each direction) is made much more pleasurable when listening to a top actor telling me an engaging story.

However, the prices charged for both digital and audio books are outrageous – often more than buying the “real” book would cost.  I tend to buy CD-versions of audio books, as it isn’t much cheaper to download them and save onto CDs myself. 

Another gripe is that there is little evidence of integrating or maximising the potential of digital media yet.  I’d love my ebooks to include photographs (which are often in the print but not the digital version), even video and music/sound where appropriate.

When travelling, avoiding packing heavy books is a great advantage – although the iPad did complain about getting overheated a few times (but its screen was easier to read in the sun than my laptop).  A print book is also better for reading during flight take-off/landing and in the bath of course.

I also find that listening to a good book actually makes me want to read the print version – so I’m not sure this new habit is replacing my old one either.  This trip I listened to the series of Shardlake Tudor stories written by C.J. Sansom.  So far, I’ve enjoyed Dissolution, Dark Fire and Sovereign with Revelation to follow on my next four hour journey.  The box set was recommended by the sales assistant in Waterstone‘s and they are brilliantly read by Anton Lesser.  With Amazon offering the paperbacks at £4 each can I resist re-reading them though?  And there’s the 5th book, Heartstone, due out on 2 September – so easy to pre-order with the others with 1-Click!

But, why can’t I buy a full set, so I can have the digital, audio and print book as a single package?  Is this verging on bibliomania?  Am I en route for the madness of Don Quixote?

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2 thoughts on “In praise of paper free reading

  1. Are you en route for the madness of Don Quixote? If you are you love and live life to the full. I’ve arrived – just like he did: awkwardly – and it’s fun.

  2. i’m just sitting on minehead beach listening to the memoirs of an invisible man on my ipod. I found it on itunes and downloaded it for free. It was in the south florida university section of itunesu. They have recorded many old classics. Not brilliantly recorded but easy to listen to. Well reccommended.

    John

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