So, after over a year of dithering and over-thinking and hestitating and general procrastination, I am finally the owner of an e-reader.
It was an early – very early – Christmas gift from my partner who realised that if he were to wait until December 25th to give it to me, he would once again be assisting me in lugging approximately 40kgs in books around the globe and getting cross-examined repeatedly by customs officials who don’t believe anyone can read that much and there must be drugs in there somewhere. They always stop people carrying weighty-looking bags with straining straps and unusual pointy bits. Go figure.
This is it – a Sony Reader Wifi Touch. It’s incredibly light, wonderfully clear to read and allows to me look up Google, Wikipedia and the dictionary when I find a word that doesn’t seem cromulent.
It has a few flaws – the billed “red” colour is a more than a bit pink looking and the cover has nowhere to fit the stylus, for example – but it looks simply dashing in its leather cover and – importantly for someone as hamfistedly impatient as me (whacking the pedestrian crossing button makes the lights change faster, right?) – it is quick as a flash to boot up, close down and turn pages.
I am, it must be said, thoroughly in love. I have loaded it with 20 – 20! – big books and it’s still crying out for many more with less than 4% of the storage card used. I can bring all the books I want to read on this trip instead of limiting myself to what I can swap for in hostels and hotels – there is no need to rely on the vagaries of what other travellors have left behind them, condemning myself to reading the middle books in trilogies and endless amounts of Tom Clancy.
Will it replace paper books for me? Probably not. Much like audiobooks, I find there is a time and a place for both. While I am utterly enamoured of the facility to carry massive epic books without lugging their size and weight (Take that, Stephen King! Have at you, Robin Hobb!) around, it still has a few disadvantages over the good old paperback.
You can’t throw them at the wall. You don’t start interesting conversations with other travellers who are intrigued by the cover of Hung Like an Angentine Duck. I’d be nervy taking it to the beach or into a very humid environment. Having it stolen would be a pain, accidentally getting coffee on it would be a disaster, and I feel oddly restrained from belting the local insect life with it.
But for all that, this lightweight gadget is a great travel companion, amusing me though endless long-haul flights and ensuring that both my partner and I arrive at our destination upright and unmolested by customs. If you’d like to save your back – and your partner’s sanity – this Christmas, I can thoroughly recommend having a look at one. Just remember that the red looks, well, a little bit pink.