Should a Writer Buy an E-Book Reader?

Woman reading

You won’t find the answer in the first paragraph, I am afraid.

I bought a Kindle when I first made up my mind to become an author, almost four years ago. Since I live in Romania and I had to pay for shipping/customs, and at that time it was a big investment for me.

I made it because there’s no convenient way for me to buy books in English. If I order them from the Internet I end up paying more for the shipping. And then I have to go out to the post office each time to pick them up.

Advantages

With the Kindle I grab all those classics that I wanted to read from the web for free. I save a lot of money in the long run.

And then I can also read Wikipedia articles on it. The computer screen is distracting and tiring. The Kindle screen is better for Wikipedia, but only if you read articles from start to finish. Skimming through them with a second generation Kindle is impractical.

There’s one more thing my Kindle helps me with: editing. When I edit I have to read the text in a different format, that is, in some other place than on my notebook screen. I have the screen in front of my eyes for too long, and by too much staring at it I become so used to it that I read the words too fast, and carelessly.

When I reread what I’ve written on my Kindle I discover misspellings and other small errors that have made it through several drafts on my computer.

I use a Kindle for editing because it’s more convenient and less wasteful than printing. I abuse the Add Note and Highlight features and then painstakingly correct every error.

Today I’ve decided to print the last draft of Oliver Colors’ biography. The time has come for me to see the words on paper. So I borrowed my cousin’s printer, which can print one A4 page every two minutes. I needed one whole evening to replace the ink and make it stop staining the pages, and another morning to get the printer working properly. Now I got around 100 pages left to print. It will take me all night.

The affair with the printer made me realize how indispensable my Kindle has become for me. Not a device, but an extension of my body.

Disadvantages

I don’t get paid by anyone to promote e-book readers. My second generation Kindle has many faults.

I dislike the gray screen, dull interface, ugly web browser, rough fonts, slow performance when you want to add many notes or make many highlights in the same document.

I prefer reading a paperback in physical form than on the Kindle screen any day. I like to touch the book, to feel its weight, to smell its ink, to think about the trees that have been sacrificed for it.

I have to admit though that my writing life would be difficult without my e-book reader.

Conclusion

If you’re the kind of writer who types on a laptop and listens to digital audiobooks, like most of us are, then buying an e-book reader is a good idea.

Do you have an e-book reader?

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46 thoughts on “Should a Writer Buy an E-Book Reader?

  1. I use the Kindle app on my iPhone or ipad. Have yet to actually invest in the reader, as I also hate reading on a screen and prefer the caress of a page amongst my fingers:)

    1. I must be a wally because I cannot download that app at all and for the few novels I want to read between poetry books it’s not worth investing in a Kindle. I’ll keep trying.

  2. Although I love the feel of paper, and I have to confess that I am an abusive reader (cracking the spine of the book, folding tops of pages, etc.), I was recently pleasantly surprised at the ease of reading on my smartphone. Paging with my fun has made reading a real pleasure. I don’t have an e-reader, but I do have a tablet and find it heavy and, although the screen is nice and big, it tires my wrists and I don’t really like reading on it all that much. Most often use it for surfing and writing.

  3. I have an ipad, which I also use as an ebook reader. I love how I can f.i. knit for my webshop and read at the same time, since I do not have to keep it open. On the other hand I still have a vast amount of paper books that will never leave.

  4. I haven’t brought myself to read from an E-Reader. I love the experience that I get from a book. A lot of my friends love theirs because they ran out of bookshelf space years ago, and like me, can’t bring themselves to throw out a book. I have ever VC Andrews book that she wrote, even the ones that the ghostwriters put together after her death. I often get laughed at for my teenage choice in literature, but they are all still here on display for everyones ridicule.

  5. This is a great article; however, you failed to mention which Kindle you have. There are very many different models and they each have different features. I am curious as to which one you are writing about specifically.

    1. I have a second generation. I thought I mentioned that, but it seems I have forgotten.

      But that’s not the point, because this is not a review.

      I talked about an e-book reader in general. It doesn’t matter the maker or the model. The editing I describe works on any model.

  6. Brilliant idea for editing. I don’t have an eReader, but changing the size and shape of the Word window on my computer would probably achieve the same effect. On the actual topic…I also like books, paper, ink. Of course, they pile up after a while…

  7. I have a simple, early model Kindle. You can access the internet from it, but I never do because it’s so slow and unwieldy. What I love about my Kindle is that it has made me a much more adventurous reader. I have read a lot of free or 99 cent books from Amazon on my Kindle that I would normally never have given a try in the more expensive paperback form. And though I don’t like how limited you are on the number of loanable books, it’s still convenient when every once in awhile my sister can loan me a book so that I don’t have to buy it. I think I’ll always prefer reading a real book, but my Kindle has been lovely (especially since I can access my account from my smartphone and send something to Kindle on my phone if I don’t have my actual Kindle with me). The idea of editing on Kindle is brilliant; I always notice mistakes more on it and I think I’ll give that method of editing my writing a try.

      1. That’s funny you should mention that, my mom is a teacher and we were discussing after I read this post how amazing the dictionary is on the Kindle. We think it’d be wonderful if kids could have Kindles in the classroom to read class books on, and we were talking about how much easier it would be for kids to improve their vocabulary with the dictionary on the Kindle!

  8. I love my Kindle, it is the best thing I own. I travel and move around a lot so I have given away most of my books anyway as I’ve had long periods with no where to put them. It’s wonderful having so many books in a little spot.

  9. I confess to being a reluctant kindle user. I would never have bought myself one, but since it was a gift I started using it. I now find it to be indispensable. So many books in one small device! And I can change the type size when needed.

  10. I have the first generation of Nook. I bought it because I don’t like seeing how many pages left when I’m reading physical books and yes the idea of getting the book instantly. Altough in the end I regret not getting the physical books and there is a book store here that sells used books much cheaper.

  11. Oh, you. Why does this post not surprise me? 😉

    I suppose I haven’t invested in a Kindle because I’m just not very technologically savvy. In the generation of iPhones and smartphones, I still have an old flip phone. I prefer reading a real book, and, as I haven’t had much time to read in recent years (or, at least haven’t made it a priority—tsk tsk) and have never had trouble finding English books, investing in a Kindle just didn’t make sense.

    A Kindle *would* be incredibly nice, however, when traveling, and the idea of reading/editing your work on something other than your laptop makes WONDERFUL sense. I didn’t know you could do that, honestly. (Told you I’m not technologically savvy!)

    I am better off for knowing you, dear hatted boy. Thank you!

  12. Good information to have if I ever take the plunge of and ereader. Right now I have an abhorrence to them just out of principal, but the editing on them sounds like a really nice feature.

  13. I became enamored of e-readers years ago when I bought a Gemstar (no longer being made, sadly). I love that e-reader even though it’s much heavier than a Kindle. For one thing, it worked: backlight, memory card, stylus for highlighting. And it still works, but the software and hardware is no longer supported. I have a Kindle but never thought of using it in a writerly fashion. Actually I regret buying it because soon after, Amazon came out with the Kindle Fire and then substantially dropped the price on the Kindle I had already bought. And soon after I bought an iPad and thought, “gee, all I needed was to download the app?!” Sigh. But I have read books on my e-readers and recently bought a Kobo in part because it is sold through independent bookstores. I’m taking a long time to say that what I like most about e-readers is their convenience (being able to take several books with me on a trip). I still buy printed books because I enjoy the feel and weight of them. Some publishers have preserved the art of book-making so that the book can be a thing of beauty in and of itself. But I often buy the e-versions too as a “back-up” so if I need to refer to a book, but don’t have it with me, I can just pull out my iPad and Kobo and access it there.

  14. I have been using a Kobo Glo since last December. Living in a remote spot, getting to a bookshop (if one can still be found!) is awkward. Buying paper online costs more to deliver than goes to the author and publisher. Buying e-books is a reasonable alternative, and there are numerous libraries online, such as Project Guttenberg, which offer a huge amount of good material at no cost. An unforseen benefit of the e-reader is the ability to travel with not just one book, but an entire library.
    Speaking of libraries, many of our local libraries allow one to borrow books online. The digital rights management software (DRM) ‘times out’ at the end of the loan, so I don’t have to remember to take the book back in order to avoid a fine!
    True, I have to recharge the beast from time to time (fortnightly) but I can use the same charger as my phone. Charging also occurs when I transfer books from my laptop.
    I use an application called ‘Calibre’ to manage my e-books, in a bewildering variety of file formats: better than the Kobo application, in many ways. I was delighted to find that I can print books from this application, too; it means that I can still take parts of books with me when I take a bath! The backlight on the Glo enables me to read while my partner sleeps, or even when outdoors in bright sunshine.
    While I love the sound and feel of books old and new, the electronic variety allows me to read without breaking the bank.
    The notion of using the e-reader as a device to assist in review and editing hadn’t ocurred to me; I will have to try that.
    I chose Kobo over Kindle because it does not tie me in to a single vendor, lock me down with DRM, or limit the file formats that I can read. I chose an e-reader over an application on my phone because while it only does one job, it does it very well.
    Kia kaha =]

  15. I use the Nook app on my Nexus7 instead of a Kindle. The pages look and turn like a real virtual book! If it weren’t for the Nook I may have never rediscovered reading. My vision has made it difficult to read printed pages for many years now. But, by being able to read all those wonderful free classics you mentioned, I found my love of writing re-kindled (no pun intended). So I think an e-reader is important, especially to this writer.

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