In which I’m reading

So the other day a reader asked in passing whether I preferred to read print books or digital, and it got me thinking that the way I read is odd. I have a system that’s quirky but works for me and makes sense–at least in my own head.

My first choice is a print book in a trade edition. I don’t love mass markets because the print is soooooo small. (A common grump amongst those of us over 40.) I don’t love hardcovers because they’re too heavy–especially in the bathtub. I will read those versions if there’s no other way to get hold of a book, but if I have a choice between either of those and trade, it’s trade all the way. There’s significantly more white space than in a mass market which is easier on the eyes.

For my ereader–and I have a Kindle–I download novels. (This avoids the mass market tiny print issue if there’s not a trade edition of a book.) My other use for my Kindle is the out-of-print books that have been digitized and are in the public domain. MANY times I have needed a research book that was difficult to track down or exorbitantly expensive in print, only to find it was free for Kindle. So I snap those up even though I really, really don’t like reading my research on an ereader. I find I retain much more of the material if I can mark it up as I go–some books I read with a pencil in hand at all times to highlight passages I don’t want to forget. When I finish with a research book, it’s usually covered in pencil marks and bristling with tiny post-its. I tend to visualize where I saw something in a book which makes it easy to find later. This is almost impossible with a digital edition, so it’s my last resort for research material.

I also use my Kindle to download samples of books that I later purchase in print form. It’s a quick way to screen books and weed out what doesn’t thrill me as well as a handy reminder of books I wanted to track down at the library or bookstore. (I’m still lamenting the fact that I can’t sort the books into folders!) I also use the Kindle for reading manuscripts that friends send along before publication–the conversion to a Kindle doc is FAR easier than trying to scroll through an attachment to your email or printing out 500 pages of a pal’s book.

And I purchase multiple copies of favorite books just to have them handy in different formats. Some are free–Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, even some Agatha Christie–but others are just too loved to be without. In that category you’d find Dodie Smith, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Sarah Caudwell, Elizabeth Peters, Alan Bradley, and FINALLY Daphne du Maurier. I have print copies of all these authors, but the digital books are a security blanket, ensuring I never have to go without.

And here’s a photo of me actually reading–from SCRIBBLING WOMEN at Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC in June: Lady Jane

What about you, chickens? How do YOU read?


9 thoughts on “In which I’m reading”

  1. Debbie Kemp says:

    I have to say I still like hardcover books the best! I do read books on Kindle for iPad -just read all three of your novellas on iPad! But there is something about holding a big thick book that brings me back to being young again! I can never look ahead! I never understand people who can flip through a book and even-gasp!- read the ending! I am almost at the point where I would like all my books to be in large type! My library has those!

  2. Michelle K says:

    Deanna, you CAN sort your Kindle books into folders. Amazon’ sway is sort of a pain in the butt depending on which Kindle you have, but it’s possible!
    Under Sorting Content and Using Collections
    Dear Author also has a great post about using Calibre to sort your books into collections

  3. Anjali says:

    I love print books! I try to convince myself it’s better for the environment to have the e-books on my kindle and iPAD (and I have a whole bunch of them) but there’s something about the feel and smell of books that’s hard to replicate electronically. I read the Julia Grey bundle on kindle before getting them in paperback because I just *had* to have the collection to one day pass down. My husband has threatened to donate my collection if books continue to show up on my doorstep (so I just try and beat him to the door when the postman comes and stash them in cubbyholes around the house). One day he’ll figure out why the toaster oven really doesn’t work 🙂

  4. Tempest says:

    I love my e-reader. I love the fact that I can carry LOTS of books with me, buy one at a moment’s notice, and adjust the fonts, margins, etc. (My mother, who has eye problems, can actually read more on the e-reader.) However, I do still love physical books as well. (People act like you have to make an irrevocable choice. You CAN date both at the same time.) Plus digital versions mean I can access these books on my phone, computer, tablet, etc. There’s just something very comforting about always having LOTS of books available.

    While there aren’t folders on Kindle, you can organize your books into collections.

  5. Michelle, unfortunately that doesn’t work for a Fire. It’s bizarre because you can do it with other versions, but the Fire requires a third-party app. Seems like it should come standard!

  6. LKT says:

    At this point, I would have to say e-reader, mostly because we ran out of space in our apartment for any more physical books, and I LOVE the fact that when i am on a plane, i have a virtual library of content to choose from. That being said, I do miss the ability to write notes and put sticky’s in my physical books. I’m still trying to figure out how the “marking” process works in kindle…..

  7. Patricia says:

    Trade editions are my first favorite, but only if it’s not a hardback in an author I collect (Deanna!) and I have quite a few of those. I also have some duplicates on my e-reader (I have Nook) and love the fact that some of the outdated are free or very inexpensive. But for me, there really is nothing so fine as sitting with a cup of tea and a print book. They are overwhelming me though and I’ve really got to consider donating a huge amount somewhere. I need a library in my home!

  8. Brigitte says:

    I got a Kobo e-reader two years ago and did a massive book purge at that time, but only those books that probably hadn’t been touched in 10 years. They went to good homes at a charity book sale. I still have all my favourites in paper format (Tolkien, Austen, etc.) as well as on the Kobo and I continue to buy paper books but only for my favourite authors. The Kobo, alas, is now dead after 2 years of daily reading and it’s been replaced with an iPad mini that has a Kobo app, so I still have access to my 100+ ebooks.

  9. Lynne says:

    Deanna – it’s ironic but you read much the same as I do. I love my Kindle for the obscure and out-of-print. I love trade paper for the same reasons you do. And besides being heavy, hardbacks have become way to expensive. I have plenty on the shelves and still buy one occasionally when it’s something I will read more than once. I have discovered that the libraries are carrying more and more e-books, which is also great when I want to read but not spend. And I don’t have to wait for an e-book. And if we didn’t have digital how would I keep up with Julia and Brisbane?? The best thing is that, as avid readers, we have so many options to nurture our desire for books

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