An E-reader story

Jorge Gueorguiev Garcia Image
Jorge Gueorguiev Garcia
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I have always liked reading. Maybe because my parents cultivated the habit. They used to read before going to bed, they would buy me books, and their home was always full of books. I did follow in their stead, and throughout the years I have bought a massive amount of books. I love what is inside, I love the outside. Turning a page is an incredible experience, knowing that there is more knowledge or more emotion to be had on the other side.

The Setup

I am going to make 15 years in the U.K. It took me 11 years to buy a house. During those 11 years I moved 9 times. Let me tell you, it was a pain.

What made it far more painful was that half of my boxes were my cumbersome library. Books upon books of both fiction and non-fiction work. Add the fact that couldn't pay for a moving company to do the transport for me, and you could see that it did become an issue.

The Solution

Around the 4th time I moved, I saw for the first time someone reading on an iLiad. What a genius idea. Having your pure text books on it. I could reduce my physical collection by 80% if I only kept hardbooks.

So I went and bought a Hanlin knock off. I could barely afford something better, and I wanted to test the waters before going into a full dive.

Although I loved the idea, the experience was quite bad. Oh, the screen was good, the text crispy, and had no issues reading. The buttons, though, were difficult to use, the menus were a mess, and it would take around 2 seconds to flip a page. After the third book I abandoned its use; it was just not good enough.

The Realization

Around that time, a remote colleague paid a visit into our main offices. He brought with him the newest Sony Reader (I think it was the PRS-600). As my boss had an Amazon Kindle, we decided to put all three together and compare. And I was amazed by the difference in page turning. Both the Kindle and the Sony would flip in barely 0.5 seconds. That made a massive difference in usability.

I bought the Kindle, and started to read non-stop on it.

The Aftermath

Over the next few years, I have moved most of my library into digital. I have kept mostly hardbacks, and all paperbacks have been given away. Maybe at some point, if I have a place big enough, maybe, I will have a nice big library. Til then I can't see me buying many physical copies.

That is all well and good for fiction books, but for my chosen field, software, the e-ink is currently not a great solution. For those, the Safari Online Library (later the Pragmatic Bookshelf as well) and the iPad Retina came to the rescue (I still have to see something that works as well as iBooks on Android devices).

Most of my library is now digital. And the weight of it is null. But an underperforming device nearly stopped the necessary change.

Image: Magnus Manske - Device owned and photo made by Magnus Manske. CC BY-SA 4.0

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