For a long time, I eschewed ebooks and e-ink reading devices such as the Kindle or the Kobo. I was a print purist. A physical book has that weight, smell, and special something that makes it special.
Or so I thought.
Then, a couple of years ago, I saw the Kobo Clara HD on sale at JB HiFi. It wasn’t a huge discount ($30), but I decided to give it a go for whatever reason. I’m not sure if I’d call the decision life-changing, but it certainly changed the way I read books.
Firstly, why did I choose a Kobo over an Amazon Kindle? Because I despise the idea of lining Jeff Bezos’ pockets with any of my hard-earned dollars. As simple as that. But the Kobo had some other advantages too: easy sideloading of epubs, Overdrive support for borrowing ebooks from a public library, and a screen light that transitions out the blues as it approaches evening, which can help you get a better night’s sleep (I think the Kindle has since copied this feature).
(In the interest of fairness — I should note that the Amazon Kindle Store does have a slightly more extensive collection of ebooks — particularly older books. E.g. Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven and Pournelle is not available on the Kobo store whatsoever, but it is on the Kindle).
But actually, a couple of years on, the biggest reason why I have stuck with mainly reading ebooks on my Kobo is simply this: you can get virtually any book you want instantly, and often cheaper than buying it in print. The second reason is the Kobo is so light in hand; it’s very comfortable to read on it. The third reason is that I like my font size to be a bit bigger than the average paperback novel, and ebooks allow you to adjust the font size to your liking.
All in all, I’ve drunk the ebook kool-aid.
Initially, I thought the Kobo’s support for transferring your own epub files was a big plus. However, it turns out I rarely sideload epubs because very few publishers sell DRM free downloads of their books. Instead, you have to buy it through an online store, such as Kobo, Amazon, Google Books or Apple Books. Once you buy a book through a store, you can only read it on one of their apps or devices. So buyer beware, you’re Kobo books can only be read on a Kobo or via the Kobo app.
Reading a print book still brings me a lot of pleasure, and it's nice to mix things up once in a while.
At this point, you might ask: why not simply read ebooks on my iPad? Ebook readers such as the Kobo and Kindle use a unique e-ink screen, mimicking actual paper. An iPad emits light out towards your eye. An e-ink screen requires light to shine onto it — just like real paper. Yes, they have screen lights, but these are designed to imitate a reading lamp rather than an eye-burning LCD.
Occasionally, I do go back to a print book. For example, I found a secondhand copy of Peter F. Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star. There is something very satisfying about digging into a weighty tome, feeling the physical pages turn on an epic adventure. Also, I like having a bookshelf. It’s lovely to see a shelf or two packed with books. And since my library has a better print collection than ebook collection, I will sometimes borrow a physical book.
Reading a print book still brings me a lot of pleasure, and it’s nice to mix things up once in a while. However, there is one other significant advantage the Kobo has. I’ve been reading my way through the Star Trek line of post-Nemesis books — and it would be virtually impossible to get all those books in print form. I’d have to buy them secondhand from overseas, and some of them are now quite rare and therefore sell for $100+. Even the more modestly price copies sell for about $20, whereas the Kobo store sells them usually for $6 - $7. Given the price difference, read ten books and the Kobo has paid for itself.
There you have it. I’m a convert. I’m an ebook/Kobo evangelist. What’s your opinion on ebooks v print books? Let me know in the comments below.