Life Is Not A Beach With An E-Reader

As the beach season comes into full swing, I’ve been thinking a great deal about e-readers. (I’m a geek, I have a weird thought process, okay?)

I always read more during the summer months, and part of the fun is getting old used and rather beat up paperbacks, kicking back, and not worrying how much sun and sand will affect those pages. But buying an e-reader pretty much means that all my paperback spending money is going to downloads, and not to physical books. Not that I’m buying one, but I am thinking about the options.

See, the thing is, I’m even wary about bringing library books to the beach, let alone something like an e-reader. With this price war, though, Nooks now at $149 and Kindles $189, they’re quickly becoming some of the cheapest and most intriguing gadgets on the market. Which would stand to reason that they’re the sort of thing we’d want to carry around with us, even if some of them aren’t particularly built for multitasking. (Which, honestly, is the primary reason I’ve held out so long.)

But my favorite part about paperback books is that I don’t have to worry about them at all. Sure, they’re not exactly environmental friendly, but all my favorite books are paperbacks, worn with time and dog-eared.

It seems that there’s some kind of disconnect in the e-reader market; to me, e-readers are like very nice hardcover books (in a way, expense wise) and difficult to just chuck in your purse and go for a trip. It’s not a lack of portability, but a general concern about electronics in dangerous situations (my purse is a perilous place!). What’s going to fill that paperback niche?

How about you, Geeks Are Sexy readers? I figure we’re one of the main target demographics in this situation. Do any of you have e-readers? Do you risk bringing them down to the beach/camp/out of doors in general? Do you just rely on warranties? Accessories? Or do you think that something new needs to be created to fill the gap between casual reading and climate-controlled reading? The future of reading may very well be in our hands.

[Photo CC libicocco – via Flickr]

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43 Responses to Life Is Not A Beach With An E-Reader

  1. I just bought a nook (wi-fi only) last week. My decision was influenced by a coworker who purchased a refurbed Sony eReader. What got me to decide was that the e-Ink screens were very nice to look at. Sure, it's only 16 color gray, but big deal – it's meant for reading text and those screens do their job well, better than LCDs.

    Now, I'm not a heavy reader, but I do poke through titles from time to time. The most use I will get out of it will be on road trips/flights. Normally I'd chuck a book in my bag as well as some Sudoku puzzles – nook offers all of my ebooks and sudoku.

    Normally I don't read outside, so I doubt it will see much use in that area. However, I probably wouldn't even think about potential consequences of using it outside; it seems sturdy enough. I did buy a slip cover for it as well to keep the screen as scratch-proof as possible, as I will probably be tossing it in my backpack for trips and such.

    The one thing I'm disappointed with is the price of the eBooks themselves. It would have been really cool on B&N's part to include a "3 free ebooks when you purchase a nook!" or similar deal. I really don't understand why there is such a large price margin on electronic editions. Thankfully, my state (Oregon) offers an electronic library where I can checkout books for 1-3 weeks at a time. Also there are a few sources for free, legal ebooks.

  2. I just bought a nook (wi-fi only) last week. My decision was influenced by a coworker who purchased a refurbed Sony eReader. What got me to decide was that the e-Ink screens were very nice to look at. Sure, it’s only 16 color gray, but big deal – it’s meant for reading text and those screens do their job well, better than LCDs.

    Now, I’m not a heavy reader, but I do poke through titles from time to time. The most use I will get out of it will be on road trips/flights. Normally I’d chuck a book in my bag as well as some Sudoku puzzles – nook offers all of my ebooks and sudoku.

    Normally I don’t read outside, so I doubt it will see much use in that area. However, I probably wouldn’t even think about potential consequences of using it outside; it seems sturdy enough. I did buy a slip cover for it as well to keep the screen as scratch-proof as possible, as I will probably be tossing it in my backpack for trips and such.

    The one thing I’m disappointed with is the price of the eBooks themselves. It would have been really cool on B&N’s part to include a “3 free ebooks when you purchase a nook!” or similar deal. I really don’t understand why there is such a large price margin on electronic editions. Thankfully, my state (Oregon) offers an electronic library where I can checkout books for 1-3 weeks at a time. Also there are a few sources for free, legal ebooks.

  3. I take my Kindle everywhere. It's a tough little device. I've dropped it a couple of times onto concrete floors, and all that happened is the casing came apart a little bit. The device is still working like a champ. I've even sat in i my hot tub and read my kindle. Just keep a towel handy to dry your hands off occasionally so that the device doesn't slip into the water.

    I wouldn't worry at all about taking a Kindle to the beach as long as you don't take it into the water with you. I've taken it to PAX, racquetball tournaments, camping, travelling, on the bus with me to and from work…pretty much anywhere I think I may have some time to sit around and do nothing for 15 minutes or so. I've never worried about how the device will hold up.

  4. I take my Kindle everywhere. It’s a tough little device. I’ve dropped it a couple of times onto concrete floors, and all that happened is the casing came apart a little bit. The device is still working like a champ. I’ve even sat in i my hot tub and read my kindle. Just keep a towel handy to dry your hands off occasionally so that the device doesn’t slip into the water.

    I wouldn’t worry at all about taking a Kindle to the beach as long as you don’t take it into the water with you. I’ve taken it to PAX, racquetball tournaments, camping, travelling, on the bus with me to and from work…pretty much anywhere I think I may have some time to sit around and do nothing for 15 minutes or so. I’ve never worried about how the device will hold up.

  5. I have a Kindle and love it – I just pop it in a heavy duty ziploc bag to read in that tub or at the beach. Haven't dropped it yet, but that extra insurance is never a bad thing, and it's a trick that has served me well with my iPod touch over the years.

    As a grad student, the ability to keyword search my textbooks and fit ten books in one bag without killing my back is pure gold and worth every penny to me. Also, some of my books are cheaper on Kindle.

  6. I have a Kindle and love it – I just pop it in a heavy duty ziploc bag to read in that tub or at the beach. Haven’t dropped it yet, but that extra insurance is never a bad thing, and it’s a trick that has served me well with my iPod touch over the years.

    As a grad student, the ability to keyword search my textbooks and fit ten books in one bag without killing my back is pure gold and worth every penny to me. Also, some of my books are cheaper on Kindle.

  7. I don't own a separate reader device, but I have several eBooks on my cell phone that I read/have read (I have an old Palm Treo 755p, it isn't considered a "smart phone" since I don't pay for internet access, but it is hardly a dumb phone). I guess I would be a little hesitant to take my phone to the beach with the sand and water (but, since I live in the midwest, it has been several years since I have been to a beach, so that isn't a huge concern), but I have no problem taking it with me camping or hiking or most other outdoor activities.

  8. I don’t own a separate reader device, but I have several eBooks on my cell phone that I read/have read (I have an old Palm Treo 755p, it isn’t considered a “smart phone” since I don’t pay for internet access, but it is hardly a dumb phone). I guess I would be a little hesitant to take my phone to the beach with the sand and water (but, since I live in the midwest, it has been several years since I have been to a beach, so that isn’t a huge concern), but I have no problem taking it with me camping or hiking or most other outdoor activities.

  9. I have a kindle and I read it in the bathtub every morning. I don't even use the ziplock bag, though that's not a bad idea!

  10. I have a kindle and I read it in the bathtub every morning. I don’t even use the ziplock bag, though that’s not a bad idea!

  11. I've held off on getting an e-reader for much the same reason. Purses are dangerous places filled with small granules of who knows what aching to find electronics to destroy. Not to mention Florida offers quite a bit of sand and sun.

    I'm sure there are some great accessories to protect the electronics from the outdoors, but I'm not sold yet on the idea of an e-reader. If I drop my 7.99 paperback into the water, I'm out eight bucks if I can't fix it. If I drop my nook…not as easy a thing to brush off.

    I'm not too worried about the multi-tasking abilities of the readers, I think the ipad has beaten that thought into the ground now. I just play tough love with all my electronics, and need to know they'll survive a week in the backpack or some sunscreen-smudged fingerprints.

  12. I’ve held off on getting an e-reader for much the same reason. Purses are dangerous places filled with small granules of who knows what aching to find electronics to destroy. Not to mention Florida offers quite a bit of sand and sun.
    I’m sure there are some great accessories to protect the electronics from the outdoors, but I’m not sold yet on the idea of an e-reader. If I drop my 7.99 paperback into the water, I’m out eight bucks if I can’t fix it. If I drop my nook…not as easy a thing to brush off.
    I’m not too worried about the multi-tasking abilities of the readers, I think the ipad has beaten that thought into the ground now. I just play tough love with all my electronics, and need to know they’ll survive a week in the backpack or some sunscreen-smudged fingerprints.

  13. I personally haven't had the desire to switch to the ereaders. I'm a paper/ink kinda guy, love the feel, smell, everything about those paperbacks. Plus ten paperbacks would certainly look more impressive upon a bookshelf than ten ebooks in a nook would. Granted that said the electric versions and the paper versions have the same sort of issues with things like water (though a paperback may recover better depending on damage).

  14. I personally haven’t had the desire to switch to the ereaders. I’m a paper/ink kinda guy, love the feel, smell, everything about those paperbacks. Plus ten paperbacks would certainly look more impressive upon a bookshelf than ten ebooks in a nook would. Granted that said the electric versions and the paper versions have the same sort of issues with things like water (though a paperback may recover better depending on damage).

  15. I recently won an iPad and honestly, I am not sure I would take it to the beach. My big worries are the sand scratching the screen, the heat and of course the possibility of theft.

    I don't mind looking like a geek in public when I am using my iPad, but the whole point of going to the beach is to unplug and relax. Part of that 'ritual' for many of us includes buying that paperback book in some beat up old book store while on he road to the beach.

    I love technology, but there are some traditions that should and will not die.

    :P

  16. I recently won an iPad and honestly, I am not sure I would take it to the beach. My big worries are the sand scratching the screen, the heat and of course the possibility of theft.

    I don’t mind looking like a geek in public when I am using my iPad, but the whole point of going to the beach is to unplug and relax. Part of that ‘ritual’ for many of us includes buying that paperback book in some beat up old book store while on he road to the beach.

    I love technology, but there are some traditions that should and will not die.

    :P

  17. I don't own an e-reader and I don't think I would. I'm hard on my things and would be afraid I would destroy it. That and I just like paper and ink books.

  18. I don’t own an e-reader and I don’t think I would. I’m hard on my things and would be afraid I would destroy it. That and I just like paper and ink books.

  19. Personaly, i agree with the above comments about the ritual of going into that little beat down (or nice) bookstore and smelling the books and ink…to me, and lots of others, it's the greatest smell on earth! yes…I am a proud book geek!!! electronics are nice, and are getting cheaper everyday, but for me, there is no suitable replacement for a beat down paperback!!! it's like having an old friend with you on your travels…

  20. Personaly, i agree with the above comments about the ritual of going into that little beat down (or nice) bookstore and smelling the books and ink…to me, and lots of others, it’s the greatest smell on earth! yes…I am a proud book geek!!! electronics are nice, and are getting cheaper everyday, but for me, there is no suitable replacement for a beat down paperback!!! it’s like having an old friend with you on your travels…

  21. This was one big factor effecting my choice to get the iPhone. The iPod touch gets this same job done. As far as portability – yea I think they're designed to be tossed in hour purse. I love the size of this guy and I use the kindle app. The iBooks and other readers don't quite get it right. Anyway hope this helps. I imagine you know someone who has either the touch or the phone. Download the kindle app and any books sample chapter for free. Then you'll know if it works for you.

  22. This was one big factor effecting my choice to get the iPhone. The iPod touch gets this same job done. As far as portability – yea I think they’re designed to be tossed in hour purse. I love the size of this guy and I use the kindle app. The iBooks and other readers don’t quite get it right. Anyway hope this helps. I imagine you know someone who has either the touch or the phone. Download the kindle app and any books sample chapter for free. Then you’ll know if it works for you.

  23. I have a kindle only because it's a hand-me-down from my father who got an iPad. I like it for the throwing-in-my-purse-and-going reason; I end up reading it on the bus quite a bit. The case I have is this: http://www.medgestore.com/products/kindle2-flip.p… (in pink!) and it's still very very thin and feels very safe.

    However, I have NOT been brave enough to take it out by the pool yet. And this is largely due to the number of ruined paperback books I have destroyed by water. I'm even antsy about bringing hardback books by the pool.

  24. I have a kindle only because it’s a hand-me-down from my father who got an iPad. I like it for the throwing-in-my-purse-and-going reason; I end up reading it on the bus quite a bit. The case I have is this: http://www.medgestore.com/products/kindle2-flip.psp (in pink!) and it’s still very very thin and feels very safe.

    However, I have NOT been brave enough to take it out by the pool yet. And this is largely due to the number of ruined paperback books I have destroyed by water. I’m even antsy about bringing hardback books by the pool.

  25. I have fallen head over heals in love with my Nook. Can't believe I ever lived without it. I take it with me everywhere…toss it in my bag and we are a go.

    I've found it to be a tough gadget taking lots of dropping, knocking around kind of abuse. I have not exposed it to the sand/water elements yet. But I don't think I'll hesitate to do so when the time comes. But I might suffer a nervous breakdown if IT breaks down as a result.

  26. I have fallen head over heals in love with my Nook. Can’t believe I ever lived without it. I take it with me everywhere…toss it in my bag and we are a go.

    I’ve found it to be a tough gadget taking lots of dropping, knocking around kind of abuse. I have not exposed it to the sand/water elements yet. But I don’t think I’ll hesitate to do so when the time comes. But I might suffer a nervous breakdown if IT breaks down as a result.

  27. While an electronic device like this might be very useful, I agree with the people above who said they still prefer the regular paperback ones. The feel of the book, the smell of ink and paper, browsing through old book stores (and we have a lot of those where I`m from, though they`re all slowly disappearing). The feeling when you`ve bought a new book and can`t wait to get home to start reading it.

    And about the environment, does that thing not use energy? batteries? Is it really better for the enviroment than books? I kind of doubt it, especially with how devices tend to start things like crashing and failing at one point and have to be replaced. A book can last hundreds of years (I have books from 1870 on my bookshelves).

    Books you can write little notes in, fold pages over, and they`ll keep showing it, they have character. And they look way better on your bookshelves than that one little device.

    So yes, to summarise a long story (that could be way, way longer if I allow myself to talk): books win.

  28. Oh I ADORE real books. Love them. Nothing could ever replace a real book for me. I was a long-time hold out on the whole e-book reader thing. But now that I have one I would never go back. For paperback toss away books they are the only to go.

    I currently have literally bags of paperbacks I need to get rid of. Now I will not be growing that throw-away collection. All my real book purchases now are keepers that go onto my overloaded "library" shelves. Viva la REAL books! :-)

  29. Oh I ADORE real books. Love them. Nothing could ever replace a real book for me. I was a long-time hold out on the whole e-book reader thing. But now that I have one I would never go back. For paperback toss away books they are the only to go.

    I currently have literally bags of paperbacks I need to get rid of. Now I will not be growing that throw-away collection. All my real book purchases now are keepers that go onto my overloaded “library” shelves. Viva la REAL books! :-)

  30. I have a Kindle and love it for pool/beach/bathtub. I bought a $16 watertight cover for it. I'm sure a Ziploc bag will work but I'm a worrier and don't need to add another thing to my list! Any e-reader has a bit of a curve when you first buy it. It doesn't feel like a book in your hands, etc. But, thankfully, since I paid for the damn thing, I kept using it (out of spite, I'm sure). It definitely grows on you. And having the Kindle iphone app that remembers where you were on the main Kindle (and vice versa) is great for reading on the go.

  31. I have a Kindle and love it for pool/beach/bathtub. I bought a $16 watertight cover for it. I’m sure a Ziploc bag will work but I’m a worrier and don’t need to add another thing to my list! Any e-reader has a bit of a curve when you first buy it. It doesn’t feel like a book in your hands, etc. But, thankfully, since I paid for the damn thing, I kept using it (out of spite, I’m sure). It definitely grows on you. And having the Kindle iphone app that remembers where you were on the main Kindle (and vice versa) is great for reading on the go.

  32. the wife and i were considering purchasing an e-reader. we were also leaning towards the BN nook. what made us change our minds was was my iphone and the ipod touch we own. we just use stanza and love it. if we have issues with the sun, we just crank up the brightness. saved us $300 too! (the cost of 2 nooks, cause husbands and wives don't share very well most of the time :P )

  33. the wife and i were considering purchasing an e-reader. we were also leaning towards the BN nook. what made us change our minds was was my iphone and the ipod touch we own. we just use stanza and love it. if we have issues with the sun, we just crank up the brightness. saved us $300 too! (the cost of 2 nooks, cause husbands and wives don’t share very well most of the time :P )

  34. i guess i'm old fashion at the ripe old age of 26. who the F wants to read a "BOOK" off a computer screen?

  35. i guess i’m old fashion at the ripe old age of 26. who the F wants to read a “BOOK” off a computer screen?

  36. Love my Sony PRS-505 .. bought it nearly 5 years ago … still last over a month of me hammering it with every tech manual I feel like reading.

    Biggest problem it has is trying to pry it out of my G/f's fingers >.<

  37. Love my Sony PRS-505 .. bought it nearly 5 years ago … still last over a month of me hammering it with every tech manual I feel like reading.

    Biggest problem it has is trying to pry it out of my G/f’s fingers >.<

  38. While I have always been a gigantic book nerd (owned 1600+ physical books at one point), I have to say that I am a total ereader addict now! I have finally been able to completely declutter by converting many of my books over to digital format and only buying new titles in digital. I find that I tend to read a lot more and I was already a voracious reader. But something about the kindle allows me to read even faster. I also find my kindle pretty durable and love that I can fill it with different type of books to suit my mood. The other biggest draw for me is the fact that when I go somewhere away from home for awhile I can take a lot of books with me with a lot less space. A few years ago I was in Korea to visit family and found that the 14 books I took with me took a lot of room in my luggage. (I was gone 2 weeks and tend to read a book a day). However my latest trip to Europe was made much easier by being able to load up my kindle and go.

  39. While I have always been a gigantic book nerd (owned 1600+ physical books at one point), I have to say that I am a total ereader addict now! I have finally been able to completely declutter by converting many of my books over to digital format and only buying new titles in digital. I find that I tend to read a lot more and I was already a voracious reader. But something about the kindle allows me to read even faster. I also find my kindle pretty durable and love that I can fill it with different type of books to suit my mood. The other biggest draw for me is the fact that when I go somewhere away from home for awhile I can take a lot of books with me with a lot less space. A few years ago I was in Korea to visit family and found that the 14 books I took with me took a lot of room in my luggage. (I was gone 2 weeks and tend to read a book a day). However my latest trip to Europe was made much easier by being able to load up my kindle and go.

  40. I do not have a ereader nor do I plan to get one anytime soon. I use mobipocket on my windows mobile phone to read, and have to say I have read hundreds of books on it. I love it. One device to haul around that fits in my pocket and goes everywhere with me. I do put it in a ziplock bag for the bathtub or the pool.

  41. I do not have a ereader nor do I plan to get one anytime soon. I use mobipocket on my windows mobile phone to read, and have to say I have read hundreds of books on it. I love it. One device to haul around that fits in my pocket and goes everywhere with me. I do put it in a ziplock bag for the bathtub or the pool.

  42. You can use an e-reader and still read 'real' books. It is not an 'either or' choice yet. I doubt that books will ever disappear because they still have many advantages that e-readers don't have and vice versa.

  43. You can use an e-reader and still read ‘real’ books. It is not an ‘either or’ choice yet. I doubt that books will ever disappear because they still have many advantages that e-readers don’t have and vice versa.