Posted by: Corri van de Stege | August 9, 2011

e-reader downloads: the traveller’s companion to crowded trains and station platforms

e-reader and books

saving on storage

Although in principle blackberries and laptops should keep you busy working even when travelling the reality is that it is not always easy to make telephone calls in overcrowded trains or from noisy station platforms.  It’s not that easy either to try to be creative, write bids and reports whilst someone next to you is poking their elbows into your side and your laptop is perched on your knees whilst you try to keep track of your handbag, your laptop bag, your overnight bag and also need to search through various documents to try to find the exact requirement or to remind yourself of what it was all about.

E-readers are just the job: you hold them and you switch yourself off from all the mayhem around you and become involved in the story, whatever story, that you’re currently reading.  The good thing is that if you are not in the mood for that particular book or story currently open in front of you, you only lift your thumb and press a couple of times to find an alternative.  You don’t have to move, can turn your back to that elbow poking person next to you and ignore the rest of the world.  You’re lost to time and everyone around you – it is the most sane way of getting from A to B on crowded trains in my view.  At night, staying over in another nondescript hotel, trying to go to sleep in another strange bed, you again revert to that little reader that’s taking up minimal space in your bag or pocket and read yourself to sleep.

I do a lot of reading that way nowadays and so I work through large numbers of novels, literary novels and genre, depending on my mood.  It’s becoming another one of those essential gadgets and you wonder how you managed to do before without it, like you used to do without  smart phones, laptops, blackberries, iPods and, although I haven’t acquired one (yet?), ipads.

I remember how we all giggled on the tennis court, aeons ago, when a member of the team suddenly dropped his tennis racket to haul out this bulky first generation mobile phone and started a loud conversation, impressing on all and sundry around how busy and important he was, and we had to wait for him to end his conversation before we could pick up the game again.  We swore that we would never become so idiotic as to be conducting telephone conversations in public.  How times have changed!

After extolling the superiority of hard copy and the need to physically interact with what I was reading, I am now a complete convert to the e-reader, even if with one or two exceptions as I mentioned before.  There are still non-fiction books that I would rather have in physical format so that I can browse, curl pages and put markers in them for ease of reference – I know the e-readers have note taking facilities but it’s not the same.  However, as far as novels are concerned, I now have some 100 stacked up and they don’t take up more space than an ordinary and very thin paperback copy.   Hopefully, I can keep them this way for a long time, stored also in the library on my computer.  And yes, I still have one of the earlier Sony e-readers, but am contemplating switching to the Kindle wireless model – so that I can download whatever I want wherever I am.  Any thoughts on that?



  1. Ah, the e-reader…I love reading about other converts, too, because I didn’t think I could part with the printed page. But we don’t have to! like you, i still “own” books that belong on the shelf as reference or comfortable go-to’s and the very important note-taking/annotation you mention, too. Love doing that.

    As for moving/updating to another e-reader, I was just reading Consumer Reports on them. I have a color Nook. I love it. It suits me, especially for the night-time reading (it’s backlit feature) and because I’m a magazine reader as well as books. And mags look great in color.
    However, the color Nook battery will only get you 8 hours.
    You likely could do with far more battery endurance than that, given your travel schedule. You won’t want to be charging your e-reader that often. For that reason, and for the lightness of it AND for its “beach reading” capability, I would think you might like the Kindle. It goes 60 days on its battery. It’s a bit lighter than the Nook (although there is a b&w Nook which will also get you long battery life).

    Essentially, I’d say it’s between the 2. But somehow, you might be a “kindler”.
    I’m a Barnes and Nobler – no particular reason, just am. The Nook also offers “Free book Friday” which can be hit or miss. Sometimes the free book is great, sometimes, not.

    You will love whatever you get – no question of that.

  2. I am a Sony Reader girl too – definitely the way to go for being on the go. I still buy ‘ordinary’ books too – some are not available in electronic format, are cheaper or like so, I want to flick back and forth.
    My mother suggested to get a Kindle as well (they’re going to be sold in Australia soon), but I’m not sure…I suppose the convenience of being able to download is good, but you need to be able to be sure that you can do it (eg. I think Mum is thinking of the Aussie outback, probably unlikely to support 3G).

  3. Oh – thanks so much for the advice: I tell myself that I am working through the rest of my books on my Sony e-reader (plus all the ‘hard’ copies lying around) and that I will then get another one, probably a Kindle. The trouble with my Sony is that it suffered from lying around in a mudbath when in Singapore and has never completely recovered. That means it’s not as clear anymroe as it should be and ‘turning’ pages is subject to glitches. So I think I will take your advice and go for the Kindle, once I get round to it and feel justified in laying my Sony to rest – or rather, for it to become my dormant library of books that I have read. I haven’t been able to get hold of all the Barnes andNoble offer here.

    Sam: I’m sure Kindle books are as accessible as Sony downloads: I find that Amazone offers better deals and also that more and more authors seem to go with the Kindle rather than making their books available for Sony. Maybe I’m wrong? Not sure how easy or difficult it is in Australia. Good to see you around though!

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