Have I Gone Over to the Bookish Dark Side?

In between eating an obscene amount of homemade Christmas cookies, I’ve been reading–a lot. I would have read regardless of my most recent bookish event, but I admit it, probably not as much. Yes, you might remember an earlier post titled, “Fahrenheit 451: What’s the Temperature at Which E-Books Burn?” In that post, I was undecided about which side of the divide I landed on. Because I had no experience with e-readers and am a lover of books and bookstores, I concluded that my interaction with this new book technology would be relegated to my future and not my present.

However, this has all changed. A recent gift from my mother in the form of a  Kindle Touch has led me to expand and reinterpret my opinion. I made an evaluation considering both sides and I happen to agree with my original opinion: I love paper books and will always love them. If I want a copy of a book that I am very passionate about (for example, a work by Kafka), I will always purchase the book copy, flip back-and-forth through it, underline great passages and make margin notes. For books that I do not require copies of and have no real attachment to, I have decided to put them on the Kindle.

I first started thinking about it when I read the post, On Papers and Electrons, over at Multo (Ghost). Besides the secret trashy book element to an e-reader, adding classics from the public domain was a real winning aspect. So far, I have added 7 books to the Kindle and my grand total: $0. Instead of lugging around my 600+ page copy of The Woman in White with me, I downloaded it and according to the Kindle, am 80% through the entire book. Another feature which I definitely approve of is providing two dictionaries. You tap on a word and can read the definition, which is particularly handy when you are reading a classic work and the term might be archaic.

So, whether or not I have crossed to the dark side might not actually be a quandary worth contemplating over. The important points to take away are that I think with both my collection of paper books and e-books, I will be reading so much more (finally, my life long dream of reading the collected works of Leo Tolstoy on the subway can now be complete!) and saving money. Those public domain books that booksellers usually charge between $3-$10 have become free to me and I can also access the e-book collection of the New York Public Library.

Regardless of what venue you enjoy your books in, I hope you always have happy readings.


  1. Great post. I too have been conflicted about e-readers, but the way they access the public domain is pretty great; anyone with a tablet or even just a smart phone is able to build a library while waiting at the bus station or in a waiting room. There will always be book lovers, and as long as I can read The Trial in print, I’ll have nothing to say about die-hard e-book enthusiasm. You can browse / buy cool indies without stepping out of bed too.

  2. Besides about 15 books in my wishlist, I downloaded:

    > Leaves of Grass
    > Mosses from an Old Manse and other stories
    > The Sorrows of Young Werther
    > The Woman in White
    > 2 works by Freud
    > Myth and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens

  3. As long as you are reading, there is no Dark Side. At least that’s how I think about it. And it’s cool to have the ability to get your hands on some of the older works that you might not have otherwise picked up.

    1. You are 100% right. You’re post about project gutenberg/free ebooks in public domain really stood out to me as well as another post (can’t remember who) that stated that the person read so much more. I think this will help me with dividing fun books to review books.

  4. This post caught my eye, having just referenced Bradbury’s F451 in a post myself. I won a Kobo eReader at my office Christmas party and had similar conflict. I love the printed word. The tactile response to a turned page is so much better than the screen-slide. Interesting that the UX designers still keep the same gesture. It’s so natural.
    I too use it for out of copyright books (currently a couple of Wilde plays),and can see its value when travelling. Beyond that though, I love to see the physical evidence of my travels through the written world being accumulated on my bookshelves.

  5. Firstly, congrats on the Kobo.

    Secondly, I totally understand the travel element. When I was in the Czech Republic in October, I went into a bookshop in the Jewish quarter of Prague and bought a couple of The Trial (Kafka) that is illustrated by a Czech artist. I love the memories it brings up everyday when I see it on my mantle.

  6. It all comes down to preference and taste. Personally, I prefer paperbacks to the e-readers, but that’s for me. 🙂
    Got two new books. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells and The Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith

    Homemade anything is the best. I love cooking and baking.

    1. I definitely have some paperbacks in my scope (you better watch out Crime & Punishment), but, for example, I want to read the new P.D. James. I do not care to own a physical copy (it’s a hardcover to boot), so I’ll probably load it up on the kindle.

  7. I am glad to hear that you have given the e-reader a chance! 🙂

    When I was growing up my dad was constantly reading something which sparked my interest in books. He is very old fashioned and enjoys the smell of the pages and the feeling of the book. I debated getting him a Kindle for a few months because I was afraid he would hate it. I ended up getting one for him, helping him set up an account and download books. Within a month or so I was buying myself one.

    I also enjoy holding the books and the smell of the pages but nothing is more convenient in the world of literature than an e-reader. I love my kindle although, I am usually reading a book I can hold at the same time.

  8. My Kindle gets a lot of use, primarily for the two types of books you mentioned above. First, the book that I want to read but really have no need to own, annotate, etc. (I’m currently reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on my iPad), in this group I include both the trashy fiction along with the books that I simply don’t feel the need to possess. Second are the classics… I have just about all of the Voltaire, Montesquieu and Kant that I could find, as well as collections of Coleridge, Keats, Blake, etc., along with other classics that I just like to have access to.

    I’ve refrained from the e-reader debate because, like I said in a previous post about independent booksellers vs. amazon, I really don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Like you, I will always adore my books and my library, and will continue to add to it at an admittedly crazy pace. That being said, I also love my kindle and iPad and use it with no guilt.

    Great post!

  9. I’m thinking the same way these days–that they are not mutually exclusive. I really like the idea of having my own personal library of classics easily accessible to me in one place (I get an itching to read a Whitman poem or two on a regular basis).

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Great post! I had also been conflicted by e-readers for some time, but I got a Kindle for Christmas and am loving it. I love being able to get the sequels for books within moments of finishing the first one, but I can see how giving me instant gratification with books might be a bad idea. 😛

    1. I’ve been reading so much more over the winter break. It is especially useful for big books, because normally I get tired of holding a very large book and end up putting it down to nap instead. The napping is still there but at least I read more before I give in 🙂

      1. I also think that big books aren’t quite as intimidating on an e-reader. I’ve read a couple 500-ish page books already without even noticing the length while I read. At the same time, I’m not neglecting my physical books either.

    1. Right now I am reading the Hunger Games because a good friend recommended it but I have no need to own a physical copy, so I downloaded it. I also find it very useful because I have to take the subway everywhere and before I was reluctant to lug a big book with me all day.

  11. I was skeptical about the e-reader wave, but I’ve changed my tune. I started reading books related to my field (advertising, marketing) on the Kindle Reader that came on my phone. It’s really convenient and it works well for this type of book .

    As for fiction, I love the feel and the look of old novels.It’s also interesting to think about all the eyes and fingers that have danced on the pages before me. For now, my fiction reading will continue to come from thrift stores, garage sales, and used book stores. Happy New Year!

    1. I’ve updated my opinion as well. I received my kindle this past weekend and have already read 2 books on it, but I am still in the process of reading 2 “traditional” books right now–Kafka’s diaries: one which I would never buy in electronic form.

      I like the idea of old library books and contemplating the many people who have studied them before me or books whose last due date was 30 years prior. An e-reader will never beat this.

  12. I know I’m late on this because I’ve been a terrible blogger, but welcome 🙂 I told you it’s all about finding the balance between both worlds. Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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