Kindle vs Library

Since I bought a Nexus 7 (two of them, I broke the first one) I’ve been interested to see if and how it would change my reading habits. I still have a preference for printed books, based mostly on a lifetime of reading a printed book a week, but also because I’ve always been a heavy user of the local library and I like to buy used books.

Having the tablet always with me definitely made me more likely to use it, compared to before when I had to go find one of the ones we purchased for the kids. Having my own meant it was charged when I wanted to use it!

I like that the Kindle app is available on my laptop, tablet, and phone, but in practice I do ‘real’ reading on the tablet – the other two would only be for look ups or desperation, neither feels comfortable for extended reading.

I’ve gotten used to reading on the Nexus, mostly. I like being able to look up words right then, with a print book I’ll infer or skip works I don’t know. Sometimes I’ll move a finger the wrong way and jump 50 pages, something that doesn’t happen in a printed book in quite the same way. Changing font size is handy.

But the most interesting part is the content. As a library user I read what I find during my visit. Occasionally I reserve a book,but the process always feels clunky,and even then I’m confined to what they have. I never thought about that constraint a lot (beyond technical books, which I’ve always had to purchase to get something fairly recent) until the holidays, when I was browsing and realized there were a few Spenser novels I had missed over the years. Here was stuff I wanted to read and just hadn’t, because the library didn’t have it.

On the other hand, I like the randomization of the library. I like wandering the aisles to just see what catches my eye. There are books I’ll get from the library that I wouldn’t pay for – I want to read them, but not sure or just not worth the investment to purchase. Amazon does recommendations, they do Top X by category, but they don’t do randomization well yet, and it’s hard to do well.

I read about the same amount, but what I read has shifted some, if only to be closer to what I want to read versus what I could find that was close. I feel like I’m both more focused and casting a wider net, if that makes any sense.