“I have come to see Google Books as a place of scholarly afterlives, where forgotten authors and discarded projects are enjoying a certain reincarnation.”
I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of eBooks, or eReaders. I really do love the feel and smell of real books, and I’ve seen the evidence in my own experience of retaining more, and getting more richness out of reading a physical book, and turning physical pages. Nothing can replace that. I don’t believe eBooks will ever take the place of real books to any huge extent. I’m not afraid of that happening at all. But I’ve also got no plans to thrown in my lot with the eReader crowd.
But here’s my argument for eReading, and how I”ve benefited from it over the past year. This is a little bit subjective, but I think the argument holds up.
I don’t have a Kindle or iPad. But I have the Kindle app on my iPhone, and I often only download books as I find out about free ones via Twitter (some folks I follow will often notify when there are some cheap or free Kindle deals on good books – Trevin Wax and Tim Challies do this most consistently, I think). Or you can download tons of classics for free, since most older books/classics are public domain. This is really quite awesome.
So, since I have my iPhone with me a lot of the time, if I have some down time by myself waiting for something like take-out, or a dentist appointment, or something along those lines, I can get the phone out and read a a few pages of a book.
My Goodreads account really helped me see the benefits of this. In January of last year I set a goal to read 25 books in 2012. I ended up reading 38, with 12 of those having been eBooks that I plugged through several pages at a time on my Kindle app. A few of those were books I happened to snag when they were made free for a couple days, and a few others were classics that are free all the time – Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and a collection of George MacDonald’s poetry, for example.
So there’s a little argument for keeping your Kindle app (or iBooks) readily available, with a few good books cued up to read if the opportunity presents itself. I loved my reading this past year, and it was unexpectedly made more rich by my little Kindle app.