Tuesday, October 19, 2010

E-Books -- An Expat's Necessity?

A Picture of a eBookImage via WikipediaFor a few months now, I've seen colleagues, friends and even traveling relatives carry around either a Kindle or an iPad, and I can no longer ignore what seems to be a growing trend. I need to decide: do I buy into it? (And is it a trend, or will e-books indeed become what MP3 players now are to music?)

If I still lived in Toronto, if I weren't an expat, there's no way I would even be considering this. But an expat I am, so here goes:

  • an immediate expense (especially if I choose the iPad, which is way more than an e-book)
  • new technology = being replaced by improved new technology ... so would my Kindle quickly become 'old' the way the first iPods quickly did?
  • being unable to borrow from and lend books to friends, which is just plain fun
  • guilt: my school's library has a lot of books and magazines, and I should take advantage!
  • Never again having to pack, move and unpack books, as I already have so many times in my life, as I did this summer, and as I undoubtedly will again.
  • Being able to 'buy' a book and start reading it instantly (or so I'm told). This is especially key as English books are not easy to come by in Turkey. Or at least they weren't in Tarsus or Adana. Although they are in Istanbul, as I discovered much to my delight yesterday when I walked into Remzi Kitabevi and the first thing I saw, opposite the entrance, was a huge shelf of recently published English books, including several by Malcolm Gladwell and Elif Shafak's latest novel. Not your standard 'bestseller' fare. So anyway, perhaps this particular point is moot now that we live in Istanbul.
  • English books in Turkey are expensive; e-books cost the same everywhere (I would think! Please let me be right!)
  • Ordering books from amazon.com to Turkey has just gotten more complicated and it has nothing to do with the bookseller.
  • E-book readers really aren't expensive at all, averaging around $150. If I buy 5 English books from a Turkish bookstore, I've spent around that much. 10 if I buy them on a trip home to Canada. But then of course I've got to lug them back with me ...
With all the 'pro' arguments, why haven't I just gone ahead and bought a Kindle? None of the items on my 'con' list are enough to dissuade me. What it comes down to, then, is this: I'm afraid I'd miss the feel of a book in my hand; would miss the smell of books; would miss holding one page between my thumb and forefinger as I read the previous page, anticipating the next; that I wouldn't be able to underline or otherwise mark up passages I find particularly inspiring. And most of all, that I'd miss seeing my collection grow on my shelves, grow until the next big heart-breaking purge.
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  1. Mmm... the whole time I was reading this I kept thinking, "but would you LIKE reading on one of those things?".
    What's the return policy? :)
    P.S. Don't get a cat. :)
    P.P.S. Skype date, please.

  2. Hello,

    I just came across your blog and this post. 'What did you mean "Ordering books from amazon.com to Turkey has just gotten more complicated and it has nothing to do with the bookseller."?

    Would you mind elaborating briefly?