Digital intruder

I have always enjoyed the simple pleasure of picking up a physical book. Turning the pages and slowly letting a story unravel. A few years ago I added to my collection of physical books a digital intruder—the e-reader. Feared by its analog cousins for more than a decade, it still hasn’t managed to make physical books a thing of the past. It has many benefits, but also clear drawbacks. Quoting Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association:

“I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects” Source

My Device

The first e-reader I got was the Kobo Glo HD (link to the newer Aura, same format). It has served me well for 5 years. It has a 6” inch screen which makes it small enough to fit in a jacket or even jeans back pocket. Compared to a Kindle it’s not as locked into a specific ecosystem. I just upgraded to Boox Poke2 (link to the bigger Nova2, great for note taking and sketches. Poke2 available in the official Boox Shop).

boox Boox Poke2

It is one of the few available models on the market that still have the smaller size (it’s even thinner than the Glo HD). The reason for the upgrade was backlight. Glo HD only had the cold light and even at 1% brightness it was disruptive for sleep when reading in bed (melatonin increases from blue light exposure). The Boox Poke2 has dynamic warm light.

Pros and cons

Pros

Cons

The curse of availability

The sheer amount of books available at your fingertips is both a blessing and a curse. It can quickly lead to content overload. Before you know it, you have 89 books on the device that you just have to read right now. This is distracting and might cause a certain stress or even guilt for not getting to them all.

It’s similar to the difference between physical CDs and today’s streaming services. Back in the days the physical medium favored playing the albums on repeat, learning the lyrics (while flipping through the cover case) until every song was engraved into memory. Today, streaming services encourage us to jump from playlist to playlist, searching for the next instant hit.

As our attention span shortens, the ease with which you can jump from book to book in the e-reader can become an obstacle to experiencing true joy in reading.

The best of both worlds

For recommendations on what to load your e-reader with, check out my post on books for productivity