How my iPad Mini 2 turned me into even more of a reading fiend

It wasn’t so long ago that I was full of angst over whether I should get an e-reader. Having set a challenge for myself of reading at least 20 books in a year, and finding it awfully hard at times, I wasn’t sure if an e-reader would make life easier or just take me farther away from the printed page. My first job–ever–was as a page in a library, shelving books, and I truly enjoy the tactile experience of holding a book, turning the pages, and reading the book as the author intended. Still, it’s hard when you run into storage issues, as we have. We have seven 7-foot-tall Ikea bookcases filled to the gills with books, stacked up and shelved so thickly that there’s barely any space for new additions (and that doesn’t even include the bookcases in our living room or the kids’ rooms, all of which are also full).

Last Fall, I bought an iPad Mini 2 after much internal deliberation of iPad Mini versus Kindle Fire HDX. Ultimately, I didn’t want something as large as a traditional iPad, but I wasn’t impressed with the Kindle native app–and the iPad Mini seemed to be the most compatible with my environment (where I already have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro). Staying with an Apple product also meant little to no learning curve.

I took my iPad Mini 2 with me on a trip to California, and it seduced me immediately. I wasn’t excited by the movie options on the plane but–lo and behold!–I had downloaded “Captain America: Winter Soldier” onto my iPad Mini 2 before I left the house, so I was able to watch that on my way westward. Reading became simply a matter of flipping open the case, jumping into the Kindle app, and going for as long as my eyes would stay open. Even before I could finish my current book, Amazon was RIGHT THERE with an email offering a free book (their “Kindle First” program) or deeply discounted Kindle books (often $1.99-3.99 per book). Unsure of what I wanted for Hanukkah or Christmas, I asked for Amazon gift cards to feed my addiction.

Using Goodreads to track everything, as I aimed to get to 23 books this year, I’ve found myself flying through my reading list. Not having to wait to go to the bookstore (or stare endlessly at our shelves of books to see what I’m up for reading from dh’s collection), I’ve been consuming books at a nearly alarming pace. We’re just barely three months into the new year and already I’ve finished 12 books. That’s incredible.

There’s a part of me that pines for the days when I read paper books. I still have some, and occasionally I’ll get handed a new one to read (or there will be a book coming out that I insist on acquiring in print), but our storage problems and the far too few barriers to acquiring more e-books have sucked me into the e-reader lifestyle all too easily. There’s a part of me that rationalizes this as, “Well, at least I’m still reading and at least I’m still supporting the writers that I like and discovering new writers more easily”, although it’s hard for me to imagine how much of the $1.99-$4.99 that I typically spend per e-book actually makes its way back to the author. Then again, I don’t know how much of a $9.99-$29.99 printed book gets back to the author, either, so it’s possible that it’s all just publisher and bookseller margin with roughly the same pennies thrown at the writer.

I also have a terrible time justifying spending much more than this on e-books. After all, it’s an electronic file that’s distributed to thousands of people without the additional cost of printing presses, binding machines, and shipping/freight. So, really, perhaps $1.99 is closer to what the publisher actually spends per item (based on a projected number of units sold), before you factor in the costs of the book’s physical presence?

I don’t know. There’s a lot I don’t get about all of this, but what I do know is that I’m reading almost incessantly. I’ll probably be posting some more book reviews than I previously had–and anyone who wants to see what I wrote about any of the books I’ve read thus far is welcome to check out my Goodreads feed. Some of the ones I’ve read have been really good. Some have been meh. I’m discovering more about my personal tastes and how they have or haven’t changed in the last few years, like how I will occasionally read what could be classified as “chick lit”, but I still shun traditional romance as derivative pandering. Sci-Fi/Fantasy will always be a sweet spot with me, but I also love biographies, and historical fiction is an area I’m interested in exploring more.

At $1.99 per book, the barrier to entry is low. And now I’m sucked in, exactly as I’d feared. It’s almost as if I should set a goal to read a certain number of paper books per year, just to make sure I don’t completely and literally lose touch with that medium.

I don’t know why I feel so guilty for using an e-reader, but there is definitely a part of me that feels like I’m cheating on the printed page. It’s a first-world problem, to be sure, and one I’m not likely to resolve anytime soon. I adore my iPad Mini 2 (and not just for its e-reading capabilities), so this is likely the path I’ll tread for years to come, if not the rest of my life.

Ereader analysis paralysis

The future of my reading?

Let me start this off by saying that I don’t love ereaders. I love READING. My very first paying job ever – at the tender age of 13yrs and 9mos old – was shelving books in our local library. Books hold a very special place in my heart. So why would I consider buying an ereader, and why would I even have angst over ereader vs tablet?

The short version of the long story is that I received a tablet to review (forthcoming!), and I used it as an ereader for the copy of Divergent that I got free when we bought tickets to the movie. I used it on a couple of trips, and while I won’t say that I got hooked on ereaders as a useful tool, I would say that they have some merit (the same way an iPod is far more convenient than walking around with a stack of CD’s). But the screen resolution on this particular tablet isn’t really optimal for reading, so I wanted to see what else is out there. Any device I consider WILL NOT completely replace reading paper books – but for free books, ones that I don’t intend to purchase in paper form, this could be helpful. It’s also nice not to have to carry a stack of books when I’m traveling, which I’m doing more frequently now.

What’s on the consideration list:

  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
  • Amazon Kindle Fire
  • iPad Mini
  • …{generic Android tablet}

Kindle Paperwhite reviews are fairly positive, and the e-ink display I saw at our local Best Buy was very easy to read. [SHOUT OUT to Best Buy for showrooming Amazon Kindles – it makes it a lot easier to decide when you can SEE a product in person!] Big pluses appear to be: backlighting, touchscreen, e-ink display (lower eyestrain), and reasonable price. You can spend a few extra $$ to get a version that doesn’t have any ads, which is totally worth the expense, in my mind. Minuses: screen size is really small by comparison to a tablet and there’s NO color. AT ALL. I realize it’s a silly thing to some, but the color on dust jackets and book covers DOES attract my attention to a new read; it’s hard for that magic to work when I can’t see the color.

Kindle Fire is a little more expensive than its e-ink cousin, but it has the benefit of having color (yeay!). Pluses are bigger screen size, color, and the ability to do other things besides just reading; after all, it’s a tablet! Minuses are potential for eyestrain or that annoying thing where the screen screws up your sleeping, as well as a higher price tag.

It would seem logical, as I type this on my MacBook Pro, with my iPhone sitting to my left, that the right choice would have to be an iPad Mini, right? Well, maybe. Big pluses here in terms of it being able to do plenty of other things and its connectivity to the things that make me ME in the Apple world. Minuses are pretty much the same as those for the Amazon Kindle Fire, in terms of potential eyestrain/circadian rhythm disruption, but the price tag is MUCH higher, and that’s really something that gives me pause. How did a simple “Hey, ereaders aren’t so bad!” turn into “Let’s spend $400 on a new Apple device!”?

And then we have {generic Android tablet}. I saw an Acer tablet, for example, that was priced comparably to the Kindles and it looked basically like a souped-up version of the tablet I received for review, with a nice crisp display and a lightweight, compact body. Pluses are similar to the iPad Mini, in that it can do other stuff; also, I’m now more used to the Kindle app than the native Kindle interface (which I actually found a bit overwhelming with all its “TAP HERE AND THINGS HAPPEN” action), so the learning curve is lower. On the other hand, I haven’t heard that Android devices get the updates and upgrades that iOS devices receive, which makes me wonder if {generic android tablet} is disposable technology.

So, I’m stumped. I really like the Kindle store – the variety of options and pricing fit me really well – but I’m not sure which direction I should take.

*waves cash in the air and waits for personal shopper to appear*