On the one hand, I’m a bit old fashioned; on the other, I’m all for technologies that can make life easier. So, on the one hand, I like printed books. I like the feel of a hefty hard-cover; I even like the musty smell and yellowed pages of old books. But on the other hand, I do most of my reading nowadays using a nifty e-reader app on my phone.

Part of the reason why I switched to e-readers is that more and more titles are also released in digital form, and these usually become available sooner than imported print editions. But mainly it’s about practicality.

I’m not really familiar about iBook and similar apps on iOS devices, but turning a typical Android smartphone into an e-reader is very easy. There are plenty of free e-reader apps on Google Play, but most people I know prefer FBReader—a free, open-source app that’s incredibly easy to use. Another useful piece of free software is calibre for Windows, which lets you manage, classify, and synchronize your e-book collection. You can also convert your old digital books into a more phone-friendly format.

That’s basically all you need. You can easily buy e-books from various online stores, or you can go to sites such as the Gutenberg project where you can download thousands of free titles. And that’s the beauty of e-readers: you can store thousands of books on your phone (although a couple of dozen books might be more than enough), sort them by author or by series, and create a virtual pocket library that you can take with you anywhere you go.

The size and weight of a smartphone, even 5-inchers like the Samsung Galaxy S4, makes it easy to hold one up for marathon reading sessions (or when you’re in the loo and you need reading material). I tried reading with my iPad several times, but my arms got sore before I finished even one chapter—especially when I’m reading while lying down.

Of course, I still love having printed books around; and that’s why I collect hardcovers, but I read e-books…



January 2017
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