I have to admit that I was an e-book skeptic when we initially partnered with OverDrive, our electronic books platform, because their software was clunky and difficult to learn, and I didn’t want to read on a screen any more than I already had to. However, several interface and app updates later, OverDrive is infinitely more intuitive and appealing, and I’ve come around to the myriad benefits of both e-books and e-audiobooks. That’s not to say that I don’t still love physical books; an entire shelf of my home bookcase is dedicated to my current Library stash, and few things please me as much as lining the books up neatly, in descending order by height, and admiring “my” very own Library mini-collection. However, I’ve discovered several instances where the electronic versions of titles work better for me than the physical versions.
Even though you can’t see them lined up on a shelf, one major advantage to electronic titles is their incorporeal nature. In other words, they take up zero room, so if you’re under space constraints, this can be a huge bonus, and your hoarding tendencies can continue to fly under the radar. Also, while I might have space for a doorstopper on my bookshelf (where I can covetously admire its massive spine and gloat over my impending word gluttony), I don’t always have room for such monsters in my purse, especially if it means I’ll have less space for snacks. Enter the e-book! I feel no shame in admitting that I have requested electronic copies of titles we already own physically, because the book was too awkward for me to lug around and/or hold in one hand while I eat lunch (or second breakfast, second lunch, or pre-dinner). While my HR manager might not be too excited to learn about the wrist pain I’ve suffered trying to splay my tiny paw around a paper and glue cinder block, he would probably be relieved to hear that I have mostly solved this problem by transferring said monsters to my Kindle instead.
The only drawback to this method is not being able to showcase when I’m reading something like 1Q84 (900 pages and counting), but I shouldn’t link my ego to my reading choices, anyway, so it’s probably better for my character in the long run. Huh, maybe Amazon should use that for their next ad campaign -- “Kindles build character.” Who cares about a waterproof Kindle when you’ve got that under your belt? (Lies. I care, and desperately want a waterproof Kindle. All the baths!!!) But moving on…
Have you ever planned trips where your first thoughts fixated on the books you wanted to bring and how many of them you could fit into your bags? Not to belittle the tragedy of being stranded on a tropical beach with nothing good to read, but it is hard to justify filling up a suitcase with books, especially when airline baggage fees trend closer to taking out a second mortgage than an affordable, convenient option. An e-reader is the obvious solution to this dilemma, and if you have a tablet, you can even stash a few dozen magazines in there, saving yourself from the financial black hole that is the airport newsstand / headphones / tchotchkes shop. Especially if you use Flipster
or RB Digital from the Library, and get those mags for free!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a shout-out to the e-book’s more popular (at least here) cousin, the e-audiobook. I was late to the audiobook party for a variety of reasons: my commute is short and usually based on two wheels, the narration often felt slow or annoying, and I dislike having to switch CDs in the middle of a paragraph. E-audiobooks literally solve all of these problems. You can listen to samples, speed up the narration, and once you get a digital file going, it will play until the bitter - or battery - end. Although I still can’t sit and listen to an audiobook without doing something else at the same time (why I can’t do this, when I can read a physical book while doing nothing else except maybe sipping tea, is beyond me), I was delighted to discover that I can listen to books while cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, stretching, gardening - anything that doesn’t involve a motor. Oh yes, and baths. All the baths.
But enough about me and my domestic habits. If you haven’t tried digital books or magazines yet, check out our Digital Library collections or stop by one of our friendly service desks to get a virtual walk-through of the offerings. And you will never go (book)hungry again.
Vanessa Velez, Collection Development Librarian