Print vs. E-Reader

Since books and reading are going to be the main focus here, let’s lead off talking about how I read.

I love my Kindle. Print books are the obvious first love. I don’t lean toward one or the other as a whole. However, I’ve developed a curious habit in the years since the Kindle became a regular part of my reading experience. Print copies and e-readers each have a special job to do.

The Kindle is for traveling and on-the-go reading. I have nearly 4,000 books at hand. It’s light and easy to hold. I’ve upgraded to the 10″ model, so it’s a hardcover-sized screen. It’s completely customizable—font, font size, line spacing, margins, brightness. Perfectly suited to my eyes. I read faster without sacrificing comprehension. Reading in the dark is an option if Mrs. Christensen is trying to sleep. The books are cheaper.

Print books are for classics and reading on the deck with a Heineken. Since the Kindle became a habit, my manner of selecting print books has changed. I never used to discriminate, but now, I prefer a good used copy. Used enough to look used, but not in crappy condition. Some creases, fading, and scuffs are not only forgivable, but necessary. The cover has to be just so, with the perfect art. The print and brightness of the paper have to be just so. When all of these variables converge, I’ve found the perfect edition. Cult fiction, classics, and certain non-fiction are my preferred print reads.

Older books should be read in print. Newer books are fine in digital editions. I’ve noticed a similar habit with music. I enjoy listening to LPs once in a while, but it’s odd to me to buy LPs of newer releases. I prefer LPs that were LPs when the only listening option was LPs–Carole King, Gordon Lightfoot, The Beatles, etc. Most titles work best when matched to the technology of its era.

If I’m caught somewhere without either, I’ll use the Kindle app on my phone. Certain people—you know the type—like to complain about people and their screens. But you never know, and it’s nobody’s business anyway. Once in a doctor’s waiting room, a curmudgeon grumbled about everyone being on their phones. “I’m reading Hawthorne,” I told him. So there.

If you’re wondering about the third option, I don’t do audiobooks. Not yet. My mind wanders when someone reads to me. That, and it’s just too damn slow to listen to someone. I know people who do a lot of reading that way, but when it’s time to wear headphones, I’m listening to music.

Perhaps it’s not print vs e-reader so much as right tool for the right job.

Anyway, it’s as good a time as any to love reading. If you want to add me to your reading list, head on over to my books page, and you can get whichever format suits your fancy.

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