Yes, that’s a bold statement to make – I know. But I seriously think it is. What? The e-reader. It’s absolutely magnificent, a very fine piece of technology, and simply one of the most practical and useful devices of the last few decades. Whoever came up with the idea of an e-reader, deserves some sort of ‘you are totally awesome’ award. I just quickly googled the e-reader inventor and Bob Brown was the first (already in the 1930’s!) to come up with the idea of readies which are regarded as the precursors of the e-readers. As we all know, readies never made it out here and it wasn’t until 2004 when Sony introduced the Sony Librie. The first e-reader as we basically know them now. Many companies hopped on the e-book bandwagon and in 2014 we have plenty of digital readers to choose from: Kobo, Sony readers, Pocketbook, Onyx, Barnes & Nobles’ Nooks, Amazon’s Kindle. And I’m probably forgetting a few here.
I have long resisted the e-reader. I was (I am!) a huge book worm. I love having a physical book in my hands, feeling the pages with my fingertips, page through the chapters, and the smell of books. An e-reader would take that all away. Sure, you have something physical in your hands, but it’s nothing more than a thin black thing, some sort of computer, a gadget. Not a real book. In general it takes me a little while to get into any digital novelties. Guess I am not a big tech-nerd. I did not understand the hype around the iPhone until I used one (not mine) for the first time (and I was sold – got my own the next day) and we only recently bought our first iPad.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine insisted to borrow me her Kindle that I started to like it. It was easy to use, compact (it’s portable! You can take it everywhere! And it fits in the pocket of your coat!) and a lot more pleasant for the eyes than I imagined. But it was a trip overseas (over-overseas that is – all the way to New Zealand) that persuaded me into buying one. I was traveling alone, with a big backpack, hopping from island to island and from hostel to hostel with my running shoes, flip-flops, a couple of outfits, a swimsuit, a medical aid kit, my favorite toiletries (I am a woman after all), and a small pile of books. That pile wasn’t that small actually with a Lonely Planet of both New Zealand and Sydney (I was traveling to Sydney afterwards), a novel by Alice Munro (Too Much Happiness – highly recommended), and a funny travel diary of an English bloke touring New Zealand (A Land of Two Halves – to get a better feel of the country). Why carry all these books on top of all the other (rather more necessary) things I was already killing my back with, when there is a small and very affordable device that can carry hundreds of books and still weight a mere few grams (213 grams to be more exact)? I didn’t like carrying physical books anymore when it was a struggle to fit them in my luggage every couple of days. So I made sure I read Munro’s book asap and actually gave it away. I gave it away. For free. At some bed and breakfast in Christchurch. I never give books away, I even keep (most of) the books I disliked because I treasure my reads so much. I kept the other ones though – more or less because I had to. The travel guides b/c they come in pretty handy when discovering new places and the book b/c someone lend it to me and I had to bring it back. In one piece. I would have probably ripped it in two if I was allowed to – so I could spread the weight over the left and right side of my pack.
When I landed back in Paris, I almost immediately surfed my way to Amazon and three days later a beautiful Kindle Paperwhite arrived in my mailbox. Oh, the joy! Because she is a pure bliss in the life of a book fanatic. An e-reader solved all my book-transport and space issues at once. I never have to think anymore which book I want to take for a read on the metro: I can take all my e-books along. Superabfabulous. I did go a little crazy on ordering digi-books (they are all just one click away – a little dangerous at times), from cook books to novels, (auto)biographies, and dictionaries – but after using it for almost two months, I can honestly say that the e-reader is the best invention since the internet. I know the proverb usually says something is the greatest thing since sliced bread but I don’t think sliced bread is that great. You don’t need sliced bread, you can break of pieces and still eat it – sliced or not. The internet on the other hand changed our lives dramatically – the whole world and everything you ever wanted to know (and not know) is out there at the click of a mouse (and touch screens even make a mouse unnecessary). And yes, a digital life has its downsides (I won’t go into that here) but it is amazeballs that I can stay in touch with people around the globe every second of the day without physically being with them. Or find out who invented the e-reader without having to go to a library or be a know-it-all genius. Sure, mankind has probably discovered greater things in life than the internet or the digital book (HIV medication to name an example), but the e-reader made my life a little simpler and my back and shoulders a lot more happy. And that qualifies as pretty brilliant to me.