While I love the tangibility of physical books, and I believe I will always have a small library (or a big library if I win the lottery!), the reality is that electronic books are far more convenient for me.
Electronic books are cheaper than physical books for the most part. Yeah, I can sometimes get cheap physical books at used bookstores or online or whatever, but most of the time it’s cheaper to buy the electronic version. And it makes sense – there are no overheads for the publisher. You’re not paying for the physical costs of printing a book.
Electronic books weigh less and take up less room. Boy, do they ever! I have a bookshelf in my bedroom that I’d estimate has about 100 books on it, give or take a few. That’s combined, mine and Steve’s. And it includes the books I’ve received from some amazing WDC authors. It takes up half a wall in my bedroom, and has three shelves, with books shelved two deep. In contrast, I have 1,404 books in my Kindle library. It takes up no room at all. I can carry all 1,404 with me everywhere I go. I can decide which one to read on a whim, and it’s right there. I love it.
No one can tell what you’re reading when you read an electronic book. As you know, I only read romance novels. Well, 99%. I’m currently reading a fantasy novel, but there was romance in the first book in the series, so it counts, right? Anyway, romance novels have terrible covers, and worse reputations. And yes, I read some that are non-conventional, such as gay romances and romances with multiple partners. I’m not ashamed of reading those, but on the flip side, I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry on the train judging me, and I certainly don’t need my work colleagues judging me while I read on my lunch break. So yeah, I love the anonymity of electronic books.
I read on my phone. I own a proper Kindle (I think it was a gift) but I don’t use it. I’m not sure why I don’t use it, honestly, other than that I always have my phone on me rather than having to remember to take the Kindle with me. Oh, and my Kindle doesn’t have a backlight. Which is a feature they’re proud of, because it’s better for your eyes, but it makes it harder to read in bed at night with the light off. So yes, I read on my phone. Yes, it’s a small screen. It doesn’t bother me. The only thing that bothers me is that I can get a sore neck sometimes on the train or at lunch, because I’m leaning over to look at it instead of holding it closer to my face.
I used to listen to audio books when I was commuting by car. Sometimes audio books frustrate because it takes SO much longer to listen to a book than to read it at my own pace, but I do love a really great narrator. I’ll be honest, sometimes the audio version is better than the ebook version. Examples are Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, which is narrated by Justine Eyre, and A Restored Man by Jaime Reese which is narrated by Greg Tremblay. Thoroughly enjoyed those. I have also enjoyed narrations by Spencer Goss and Amanda Ronconi. The worst one I ever had was Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker which was narrated by Abby Craden. That was a real quick ‘did not finish’. Ugh. Terrible. Whereas the audio version of Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands, which was narrated by Marianna Palka was hilarious. Marianna did the accents perfectly, but used a hilarious witchy voice for the ‘bad stepmother’ character. It was even funnier because the book literally says that the stepmother has a beautiful voice that didn’t match her personality, and I listened to the narrator read that out right after doing the witchy voice and burst out laughing. God it was funny. To this day, my mother, sisters and I still giggle when someone mentions chicken necks, thanks to that story.
Thinking about Marianna Polka brings me to an interesting thought on audio books. Accents. I’m a New Zealander, and I have a good understanding of some accents, but obviously not all. For instance, I can read a book where a character has a Scottish, English or Australian accent and hear that quite easily in my head. Even knowing that there are multiple variations of those accents, that’s fine. I’m familiar enough with them. I’m not very good at picking where exactly a person is from in Britain by their accent, unlike my father who grew up there, but while reading the dialogue, I can hear the voice in my head. A recent example of that was Misfits and Strays by Garrett Leigh. Two of the characters have Cockney accents, and the other two have more northern English accents. The words and phrases they used were 95% familiar to me. There were a couple of terms I didn’t know but I could easily put them into context. I read both books hearing the characters speak in my head. But when it came to Janvier from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I had no idea. He has a Cajun accent or something, which means nothing to me. Anyway, I listened to the audio book and heard Janvier’s accent, which was awesome. Now I can imagine what he sounds like.
Audio books are more expensive than ebooks though, for obvious reasons. I have an Audible subscription (which I’m actually thinking of stopping now that I can read on the train and I’m not driving to work) so I can get one audio book a month for a reasonable price.
So yup, there you go. Ebooks with a side helping of audio books. But I do admit, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands. That new book smell, or the fragility of an old, well-loved book. Yeah, I’ll always have a little library of special books.