I am a big fan of books. I love their smell, I love the sound of turning pages and, most of all, I love their transience: how they are lent, bent and (certainly true of my books) quite well-worn. This makes me a fairly unlikely champion of the new Sony e-reader, then, my replacement Booky Wook on the train, hanging off tube poles and moving up escalators.
I liken the transition to music lovers and ipods in that this is not about the demise of books and the end of folding corners and grubby pages, just as i-pods haven’t ended vinyls and CD collections for people that care about music. I will always collect books. What ipods have done is make music more convenient, more accessible and a more integral part of everyone’s day.
The e-reader makes it easier to multi-task reading on the train; it is a seamless switch from the odd poem to an article to that novel. I can try out authors I might not have invested the money in (at the moment e-books are a cheaper option to new titles and come with a complimentary library) or the space in (my book shelves are over-crowded and beginning to sag slightly).
There’s no wait for paperbacks, no prizing open of stiff spines whilst holding coffee and eating breakfast, no extra weight to indecision as you might normally grab two books on your way out. The e-book lies flat and readable as the perfect commuter companion with a silky screen and inky words.
No, I don’t like the androgyny, I don’t like the hassle of downloading and coordinating books from my computer and I don’t like the slightly soulless transition from one text to another without front covers or new fonts. I do like the convenience, though, and I really like how reading is now an easier part of my day.
Sophie Wardell, Management and Literature Project Assistant