ebooks vs dead tree – The Republic of Thieves

It was with some excitement that I spotted this tweet earlier

The Republic of Thieves! The third and oh-so-long-awaited book in Scott Lynch’s utterly brilliant Gentlemen Bastard Sequence. I’d read the first two (The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies) many years ago and was thrilled to hear that Scott had written another book. I’d pre-ordered the Kindle version months and months ago.

However, this was a chance to get a copy early (ok, only a day early, but even so…)

I dashed off down to Waterstone’s, up to the first floor science fiction/fantasy section. There it was, as promised in the tweet. I picked it up, read the blurb and had actually got as far as getting my wallet out…

I put it back down.

It’s a big, beefy, 600+ page hardback book. And thus, it’s heavy.

Whilst I absolutely adore the joy of The New Book, and nothing quite beats The New Book Smell, I know that I’d end up carting it around in my bag for a couple of weeks.

The Kindle version? Weighs nothing. Slightly cheaper too, though I’d happily pay full price for it.

And, when it’s finished, the hardback would just live on my shelves, gathering dust. The ebook will sit on my kindle, alongside the ebooks of Locke Lamora and Red Seas. I’d borrowed both off a friend, but bought the ebook later for re-reading.

Looks like my digital shelves will be getting another book.

And if you’ve not read the adventures of Locke Lamora, get cracking! It’s fantastic!

books – ebook vs dead-tree

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap: (from WordPress.com)

How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand?

Now, there’s an interesting question. Subtly different to ‘do you prefer ebooks over paperbacks?’

For a long time I thought about getting an eReader. The ability to carry many books in a small space really appealed – often I’d go on holiday or on a business trip with a selection of books to read, just in case one didn’t take my fancy or I finished one and needed another one whilst I was away.

Finally, for a birthday a couple of years ago, I got a Kindle. I became a shameless convert, loading it up with a wide variety of books. Fiction, non-fiction, some I’d already read in paperback, some new. I probably read more that first year with the Kindle than I had done for a long time beforehand. The convenience, the size, weight were all perfect. The lovely e-ink screen, readable in full sunlight on a beach. It had (still has) a case with a built-in light, so I could read at night. Brilliant. I thought I’d also solved the problem of running out of bookshelf space at home too – after all, my virtual bookshelf was as long as I needed it to be.

Books, pre-ordered weeks or months ago would automagically appear on my Kindle on the day of release. I remember the first time I pre-ordered something, switching the Kindle on at midnight and hitting Sync. There it was – a fresh book, ready to be enjoyed. Bargains to be had too – Amazon often had offers on with books for £1.99 or less. I stocked up for a rainy day. My ebookshelf was getting longer and longer…

There were niggles, of course. Remembering to make sure it was charged up (a minor problem, given the astonishing battery life of the Kindle). The page refresh, which was *just* a shade slower than I’d like it to be. The slightly clunky user interface, and the fingermarks from the kids who expected it to be a touchscreen. 🙂

The biggest problem for me? Sharing books. One of the true joys of reading a dead-tree book is that moment you finish it and want to press it into a friend’s hands, urging them to read it as you just *know* they’ll love it. My brother and I would see each other occasionally and do a book swap – half a dozen paperbacks picked up across the intervening months that we knew each other would enjoy. With the Kindle, that wasn’t possible. Sure, we could recommend books to each other, but both had to buy a copy. Which, I’m sure the publishers (and Amazon) loved. (Yes, I hear Amazon is doing a lending library thing, but having an ebook for 2 weeks just isn’t enough.) We’d lost the discovery, the book that you wouldn’t have bought, but having read one, would happily go and acquire the author’s back catalogue.

The other thing I’ve found is that I missed reading a ‘proper’ book. Knowing how much you had left to read by the ever-decreasing pile of pages under your right thumb. Sorry Amazon, but a ‘percentage read’ just doesn’t give you the same feel. The ability to flick back a few pages to refresh your memory on a scene or plot point – again, the Kindle lets you do that, but frankly, it’s a faff.

And also there’s something just brilliant about holding and reading a physical book. The tactile sensation of flicking through the pages, or peeling back the covers on an unread book is something I don’t ever want to be without.

So, these days I split my time between the ebook and the dead-tree versions. They both have their place, and I wouldn’t be without either.

How about you, dear reader? Are you an ebook convert, or an old-school die-hard? Or, like me, somewhere inbetween?

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