Even though the world around me has been soundly enamoured with digital reading devices for some time, I have held back. I was suspicious of these strange, new beasts. I imagine this is how my Dad felt the first time he saw an mp3 player. However, having had a tablet in my life for just over a month, I thought it was high time to let the world know about my new relationship and to let you know whether it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Here are some things I have learned in my journey to becoming a digital reader…
1. It’s absolutely made for comics
The thing that tipped me over the edge with tablets was definitely comics. I could see that reading books digitally had a certain usefulness to it, but comics, a medium I love, are transformed when you have a tablet.
Having come back to comics after few years, I realised I couldn’t buy single issues anymore. Single issues comics are a fleeting and timely medium, often collected into a volume after the fact, but unlike most other forms of popular culture, they’re produced so flimsily that they basically fall apart if you spend any time with them. This means you have two options: (a) you bag and board every single comic you buy and implement a rigid filing system so you can find them again, or (b) wait, and buy the collected volumes when they come out.
The tablet/ereader gives you that sorely needed option (c). It’s honestly brilliant. I’m not particularly techy, so I won’t tell you how the screen resolution and graphics card lovingly depict the art you so love. It just works to read comics on a tablet. It’s intuitive, it’s nice and it just makes sense.
Comics to read right now on your tablet:
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Saga by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Batgirl by Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart
2. Night time reading? No problem!
Like all great leaps forward in technology, reading with a tablet or Kindle gives you powers and abilities above your puny human limitations. Like, for example, reading in the dark! All tablets (and Kindles from the Paperwhite up) are backlit which means in low light or even no light, you can read to your heart’s content. In the back seat of a dark car? Partner asleep beside you? Er, waiting for a gig to start? No problem!
I can only imagine what 10-year-old me would have done with this sort of power.
Creepy books to read in the dark on your tablet:
American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
3. With great power comes great responsibility…
…to your eyes. The ugly dark side to the amazing reading powers a tablet will give you is the accompanied headaches. In the name of science, I read a few books on my tablet, and though the reading experience was very intuitive, I spent the day with a permanent headache. Reading on a tablet really does strain your eyes, so you can’t go for mammoth reading marathons like you might with a paper book. I’d recommend shorter reads or books with a speedy plot so you can get through them quickly and then rest your peepers. However, most tablets come with screen settings and there are apps that will change your tablet’s light to a more eye-friendly hue as the light in your room dims; another great feature of tablets!
Books you can fly through on your tablet to avoid headaches:
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’ Neill
The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester
4. Neither a borrower nor a lender be
The saddest thing for me about reading on a tablet is that I can’t lend or gift the books I own to others. I know some people are precious about their book collections, but not I. I love to lend books and share the books I love with others. I’ve only read a few books on my tablet and I have already said ‘I’m so sorry I can’t lend this to you’ more times than I can count.
Books you’ll wish you could lend to your friends, but you CAN’T:
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
City of Bohane by Kevin Barry (which I still have not read because it is on my mother’s Kindle, and not mine).
5. Paper books are still the best
Regardless of everything a reading device can do for me, paper books are still the champions of the book world. Nothing really beats the reading experience of a real book. I mean, if it ain’t broke… you know the rest. With a real book, you can read without straining your eyes, you can flick back and revisit earlier pages, you can read in the dark (get a torch!) and you can share your books with anyone and everyone (well, if you want). I mean, if you think about it, is there anything a paper book can’t do?*
Paperbacks you can curl up with again and again:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
Pop Co by Scarlett Thomas
*I realise there are many things a paper book can’t do.
Image credit: Tablets by Martin Voltri