Has the Ebook Reader Changed my Reading Habits?

opus When I bought my first eBook reader, an Opus, in December, I felt both like a pioneer – eBook readers are not at all common in Germany yet, and I’d only seen one in the flesh before, on a train in England – and, at the same time, like a dinosaur, because already the media were prophesying instant death for all eBook readers due to the advent of the iPad. (Well, I have only seen one iPad in the flesh so far, on a train in Germany.) I was excited and curious when I got my new gadget: Would I really use it enough to justify handing over a considerable amount of money? Would it be as easy to handle as a paper book? How would I deal buying eBooks online? Would my reading habits change?

Well, after six months I know more.

The verdict is still out on whether I really use it enough to justify the acquisition. I use it quite a lot, but I still read a number of paper books besides. The reader is very kind to my bookshelves, as I buy a lot of books in eBook format now, especially those by new authors, and am thrilled that exciting new publications like those from Carina Press are readily available to me. At the same time, as regards books by favorite authors like Julia Quinn or Linnea Sinclair, I still buy paper copies, partly because this way I can share them with my father and niece, the other romance readers in this family, who don’t own readers. eBooks are almost as expensive as paper books, so I can’t really claim I’ve saved any money by buying them.

The Opus is delightfully easy to handle. I was warned in online forums that it crashes easily, but mine has never done so. It takes a few seconds to boot up, which may displease impatient readers, but then it’s quick. The Opus is also delightful in that you can create folders. By now, I’ve got about 150 books on it, and the folders are very helpful. I can choose between 12 font sizes, so whatever the book’s original format is, I can find a font size to suit me.

Reading is slightly slower than with a paper book, with the very short interruptions that are caused by turning a leaf. However, trying to speed matters up, I catch myself reading only half of the last sentence on a page and already pressing the button, hoping I can conjecture what is going on from what happens next (which means that sometimes, I must go back for relevant information). This mostly works, so using the reader does not slow me down dramatically.

Reading on the Opus can become exhausting on the thumbs. I can turn pages with both my left and right thumb, and I switch while reading as soon as one thumb tires, but I need to take a break after about 1 ½ books (on a single day). So I try to take turn between reading ebooks and paper books, to rest my thumbs.

The manner in which I read has changed quite drastically. Confession time: With paper books, I skim ahead a lot, reading bits and snippets in advance – very often I read the ending early on. Ahem. With eBooks, I never do. I start on page one, and I have never read an ending before I actually got there. My reading is far more disciplined. However, I hardly ever get stuck in a book I just pick up on an impulse and start to browse in. eBooks are also comparatively awkward for rereading favorite scenes, which I love to do with books I really like. When I review an Bbook and have to look up a scene, I use the copies I have on my PC, never the reader.

Accessability of books … well. There are good eBookstores in a number of countries (USA, UK, Canada) that I use consistently, and they offer a wide range of books. Downloading is child’s play, and I have never had the slightest difficulties. On the other hand, I am seriously displeased with all that fuss about formats. Although the Opus can read PDF, it works far better with Epub, and not all eBookstores (I’m looking at you, Fictionwise) have this format available for the majority of books. Another problem is that some recent publications are not available as eBooks at all.

My moment of epiphany with the Opus happened in January, after I’d only owned it for a month or so. I was lying in my bed, reading Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery, when I caught my left hand moving to the bottom right corner of the reader, as if to turn a paper page. If I can get so completely engrossed, it just doesn’t matter what medium I use for reading.

What are your experiences and impressions with eBooks and eBook readers? Have they influenced your reading?

- Rike Horstmann

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13 Responses to “Has the Ebook Reader Changed my Reading Habits?”

  1. Laura says:

    Yes, it has. I read all the time, even in line at the grocery. When I go on vacation my carry on isn’t stuffed with books I may or may not get to. This last beach vacation I actually took the ereader into the water with a handy waterproof pouch. My husband is relieved because our house is no longer being filled with books. :o )

  2. Katie Mack says:

    Yes, my e-reader has definitely changed my reading habits. I absolutely love my e-reader, and have moved to buying all the books I read in ebook format. (I don’t have anybody IRL with my same reading tastes.)

    I’ve always been one to have a book with me wherever I go, just in case something happens and I have some reading time. I love that my small e-reader can fit easily in my purse and that I have access to my entire library of books everywhere I go.

    I find that my e-reader is easier to hold than a paper book (my hands used to cramp after a while), and I love that I can now read and eat at the same time without juggling a book in my hands.

    But one of the best things about my e-reader? Nobody can see the covers of the books I’m reading. I’m not shy about the fact that I read romances, but it’s hard to convince others that the books aren’t all about sex when most of the covers are so sexualized.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’m constantly reading now. My kids call my reader my “friend” – It’s always with me and I love catching pages here and there while managing all the kid activities. If I become disinterested in a book, I don’t hesitate to stop and pull up another title and revisit another day when the mood is better. I purchased a reader for my 10 year old son last summer – he must have happily read 20 books. Being able to increase the font and have a special twist to reading helped him develop the reading habit a lot. I love Calibre for keeping track of my reading – I amend the summaries with my own opinion and enjoy having my reading data so organized. And, of course, I’m here at AAR to get all my recommendations so my reading ratings on Calibre are high! Thank You!

  4. Jean Wan says:

    I don’t have an ereader, but I read a lot of my library books online now, and when I get an e-reader it will be for the almost exclusive usage as such, because I don’t buy many new books. I find the same as you, Rike, in that I don’t skim as much, and I certainly don’t flip ahead any more.

  5. Lori L says:

    I love my Kindle. I found I was buying may more books per month, at least until the Agency pricing. Now I am a little more particular. I do check the library first. I read a library book over the weekend and my daughter said to me: “ooh you’re reading a real book!” I have also reached down to turn the page.

  6. EC says:

    I LOVE my ebook reader!!! I take it everywhere with me just in case I get a few minutes. It has gone to Europe, South Africa and on a driving trip. I love it! More and more libraries are coming up with ebooks which are great because there is no late fees for those of us who forget to return the books.

  7. Carla Kelly says:

    Like others, I still read paper books, along with ebooks. A friend of mine whose Kindle I admired said she checks Amazon’s used books, and if they are still cheaper, even with postage, she’ll buy the used book, rather than the ebook. I also like the super convenience of packing for a trip without pulling my arms out of the sockets with the books I used to lug around. I especially appreciate the older books that are available for practically pennies. I’m currently enjoying the Cranford stories, which I think cost me $1.99 or less on Kindle. So good.

    I live in the giggleweeds (coal mining side of Utah), and the book download is a wee bit slower, but oh well. The Kindle was a good purchase. No complaints.

  8. renee says:

    I too love my e reader. I have a sony and I tell my family it is the best gift they ever gave me. I read everywhere I go, and I like reading multiple books at one time so the reader allows for my reading mulitple books at a time without needing to carry multiple books with me :) . Also, I also like the fact that no one sees the covers. Some of the covers would prevent me from buying the book if I did not know that they were not accurate reflections of the quality of the book. The only drawback is the recent change in pricing due to Agency pricing. There are some authors like Lisa Kleypas that I like alot whose books are now on the Sony book store more expensive than the paperback version. I find that offensive (probably too strong a word :) and have changed some of my buying choices accordingly.

  9. Carrie says:

    My Kindle has changed my reading somewhat. I still actually prefer paper books since I, like you, enjoy re-reading scenes. Plus, I do like to read ahead at times and confess to reading the ending quite frequently. It’s not all that much of a spoiler because, let’s face it, 99% of all romance books have HEAs, so you KNOW their going to get together. But I digress…another reason I like being able to flip back is that I read books very quickly and sometimes don’t catch some details that I later find are important. I don’t catch someone’s name, job, or relationship to H/h. Or, since I love suspense, I miss a detail, a time-line question, or dialog nuance that later becomes important. I like to be able to go back and verify the detail. (Or unfortunately, sometimes verify that I didn’t miss a detail and the author has screwed up!) My kindle means I read page 1 to end with little variance. Lastly on this topic, I love grabbing a favorite book off the shelf and randomly re-reading parts, or reading a favorite scene. I do this all the time with Linnea Sinclair’s books. Again, kindle won’t allow me do that as easily.

    So what I buy for the kindle are specially priced book, books solely available on kindle (or ebook), and steamier reads that I don’t want to inadvertently end up in younger hands. That means the kindle has helped me read books unavailable in paper, and to read outside my usual genres and even comfort zone.

    And I have to admit not having to think about the covers is a real plus for me. I really dislike romance book covers for the most part, and it actually means there are places I won’t take my pbk books because of the covers. Like to read between the classes I teach for a homeschooling group. :-) (I home school and my children take classes there, but some people are a little more conservative than I am. They’re my friends and I don’t really want to make them uncomfortable. Therefore I consider the covers of my books before I take them.)

  10. I have been researching eReaders for quite a few years. I have always been an avid reader and most often I am reading two to three books at one time along with a magazine or two. I was holding out because I wanted a color screen, so I couldn’t wait to see what Apple was going to come out with, but even though I am a big Apple follower I was not as impressed with the iPad as I had hoped. Since I already have two iPods, classic and touch. I bought the Sony Reader shortly prior to the release of the iPad. I have been in love with it from the very first day. I carry it every where I go and find that I read a little bit more than before because I can pull it out at any time and any where, even if for a few minutes of reading.
    What I like mostly about the Sony is that it is expandable, where most others are not, so I can have as many books as I can buy memory cards. My bookcases are happy, even though I still buy traditional books, but I don’t buy near as many. I am still hoping that someone will come up with a color screen as Apple has because reading newspapers and magazines will be more attractive. If the iPad was expandable and was as versatile as the Sony, I would buy it immediately regardless of the cost. So I am really hoping that Apple will realize these restrictions and do something about it for sure.
    However, the eReader is the best thing that I have purchased in some time and I do recommend them for anyone that is an avid reader. The sony is also good with pdf documents and that is another one of those things that I love about the Sony. Also with the sony, you are not limited to where you can purchase your books, there are several sites that I go to and often times they are cheaper on another site other than the Sony site.

    Thank you for this opportunity to share.

  11. renee says:

    Tonya, as I mentioned earlier, I have a sony, too. I have done most of my purchasing straight from the sony site. What other sites do you frequent?

  12. Pat H says:

    I love my Kindle, and it has absolutely changed my reading. I have over 300 books on it, and love the way I can search for a particular book by putting in the name of the protagonist, or a particular line I remember, or some other searchable word or phrase from the book.

    Like someone else above mentioned, I’ve started reading books all the way through without looking at the end as much–though I have gone to the “location” feature and skipped ahead (after bookmarking where I was).

    One of my favorite parts of the Kindle is the sample which most of the time lets me read the first chapter or so before deciding to buy. It’s just like standing in a bookstore doing the same thing only now I can do it 24/7 from wherever I am.

    I also like the fact that I can upload books in Mobi format, so I’m not limited to Amazon’s selections. I downloaded a free Mobi translator which takes Word and other types of documents and turns them into Mobi which I can then put onto my Kindle. There’s also a free Kindle translator that I’ve used once or twice on books to get them from the Web to Kindle.

    My husband’s least favorite feature is that I can buy books 24/7 now instead of waiting to go to a bookstore or the library. If I finish a part of a series, I can instantly start reading the next book without having to write down the information, carry it around with me, and eventually get the next book (usually after I’ve forgotten what was in the first book!).

    So, yes, the Kindle has made me a happier reader. What would I like to see added to it? A simple rating program so that after I finish a book I can give it one to five stars and maybe a little comments spot so I could write “First of a very good series” or some little comment that would show up in the book list (with the star/s) and wouldn’t have to be added as an extra comment.

  13. Sunny Sunday says:

    [...] Rike Horstmann has a timely (for me) post at the All About Romance blog. She asks: Has the Ebook Reader Changed My Reading Habits? My answer in brief: “Yes!” I read more and I tend to have more than one book on the go [...]

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