Saturday, April 2, 2011

iPad vs. book

I was on vacation recently and read 10 books while away…8 being on my iPad. This is the first time I’ve done this. I mean I’ve tested opening the books and read one or two pages, but on the whole, it was the first true e-reading experience. And, I loved it. I used to travel with 4-5 paperback books that took up VALUABLE space in my suitcase (I have learned the hard way about packing so I pack VERY light now). Depending on the length of the trip, sometimes I would run out of books. So, I would head to local bookstore and buy some, which is money I could have been spending on crappy touristy trinkets. Also, as I finish the books, I leave them “on the road,” either in hotel libraries or I give them to fellow readers. So, basically, I’m spending money and forgoing luggage space on throwaway books. NOT ANYMORE! With my thin, lightweight iPad, I can pack on as many electronic books as I can store (thousands). And it ALWAYS takes up the same amount of space in my bag. And I have a plethora of choices…iBooks, Kindle (with the iPad app), NOOK (also with an app), Google Books, and, of course, books I downloaded from the library through both the Overdrive Media Console and the Bluefire apps. The prices of all of these books vary (the library ones were free, naturally) but spending money on books I will leave in my hotel room is even worse.

So basically, that’s my tale of love for my iPad and for e-books while on vacation.
At home, will I read books on my iPad from now on? I don’t think so…even with loving it as much as I do. Let me explain why.

First of all, there is the security factor that I have never been conscious of with books. Who cares if someone steals my $7.99 paperback…or even a library book for that matter, which might be $28.99. But, with my $499 iPad, I was constantly worried about this. I travel alone and when I was reading in a pub or restaurant, I would have to pack up my iPad, take it with me to the bathroom and then unpack it when I got back. When I used to have just a paperback on the table, I would leave it right out in the open while using the facilities.

Secondly, I was constantly afraid of getting the iPad wet. I was in England for most of my trip and we all know how English weather is…wet and damp. Yes, water is not a book’s best friend but again, a paperback getting drenched would be about an $8 hardship. Once more, the iPad’s price tag was getting in the way of my completely, unadulterated reading enjoyment.

Then, I had heard stories about how glare is a big problem for the iPad, whereas not a problem for people with non-glare “e-readers” such as the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble NOOK and the Sony Reader. When I was in St. Mark’s Square in Venice at an outdoor café and the sun was shining, I found out exactly how BIG this problem was. Quite big. I mean I could see the screen, but at times, it required a lot of adjustment. I had to increase the font size, increase the brightness of the screen and then just keep repositioning the iPad until I found the best position to see as much of the screen as possible. Suffice it to say, I didn’t sit at many outdoor cafés on sunny days.

Lastly, the most problematic experience with my iPad was when it just stopped working all of a sudden. I was away on a daytrip so I had to wait until I got back to my hotel to try charging it (even though when it conked out, it had about 60% of its charge left) to see if that brought it back to life. Nothing. So, I had to wait two days until I moved to a larger town where they had an authorized Apple service location. So, what did I do? I bought a book. A regular, ordinary, timeless, cheap book. With a book, there is never a “technical difficulty.” And if you lose it or it gets damaged, it doesn’t force you to take out a second mortgage to replace it.
Yes, the Apple service place was able to get my iPad up and running again (they had no clue what happened to it) so I was able to finish my trip reading off the iPad without having to exhaust Waterstones of their entire supply of Chick Lit and British Mysteries. But, until they devise something foolproof, while I’m at home, I will stick with a good ol’ fashioned book.