An old-fashioned reader in a digital world

Technology is fab, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it tries a little too hard. The other week the Sony PRS-500 Reader was finally released in the UK (it has been available in the States since 2006; in Canada since April 2008) - and I don't know why I've stressed finally because for this Pipe Dreamer, I honestly can't see the point of it. Or, as I should correct, for me I can't see the point of it.

Sure, it weighs a friendly-carrying weight of 250g (less than a paperback!! as Sony enthusiastically claims), and it can hold around 160 e-books, but is it a book? No, no it's not. I don't need another device in my life, and I especially don't need the option of 160 titles when I'm on the go. I flick enough through the thousands of songs on my player, books are meant to be read, they are not meant to be flicked through.

But think of all those books you can take on holiday to the beach with you!!

My book beach reads usually get sand in them and soak in some water - trust me, I won't want that to happen to a £199 player + cost of eBooks considering my track record of breaking electronic goods. Oh, and eBooks aren't cheaper than normal books, no sirree. So, you want me to fork out £200 on top of the cost of the physical book... ?! No way José, even if you will give me a free CD with 100 Classical eBooks on them. Do you not realise people often forget their paperbacks on the tube? It could get expensive for them, and I'm not sure if insurance covers "absent-mindedness".

I will give some schnapps* to Sony though (and all those other companies with e-Paper devices on the market). Especially because of its size and the space it saves. I can relate as someone whose jam-packed "main" bookcase currently houses around 550 books (another 800 or so are stored away in the attic) - the Reader is ideal for me to continue my reading frenzy, without the need for an extension on the house. I'm sure some people will adore their Reader.

But me? I love books too much. Actual real books. I can pick up my favourite books and they will instantly transport me, not just to the world the author has created, but to the world I read the book in - whether it was curled up in bed, on a beach in Brazil, or on a train. The locations I read books in can be as important as the book plots when it comes to forming a memory of the book. I just don't think I could get that sense from something electronic, so I'll be sticking to my paperbacks. Sorry Sony.

How about everyone else? Are you addicted to your eBooks, or do you prefer real books?

* Schnapps, meaning give credit to - must be said in a Nordic-German twang, with a drawn out a - in case you were wondering.


  1. Elle, I am sooo with you on this one. I currently have over 20 books i haven't read scattered across my room. They take up so much space, but I like the pretty covers and the different sizes of them, and the fact that they are actually THERE. They're not just stored on a piece of electronic equipment, devoid of a pretty shell. Nope, they can keep their readers, I don't want one!

  2. Argh, I have SO MANY books. About 300, and I never exit Waterstones without a new book or two (or three). My to-be-read pile is immense. But that's what I love about books - the covers, the feel of them, and the joy of shopping for new books. I love spending time in bookstores just browsing and looking through the pages. Like Paula said - they are THERE.

    (Not only that, but I'm also guilty of reading in the bath). :P No use for a Reader there!

    The Reader is a good idea for certain people but not for real book lovers. It may hold so much but there's no replacement for 'real' books whatsoever.