Our Reading Lives

Preferring Certain Types of Books as eBooks More Than Print

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Maureen Stinger

Staff Writer

As a child, Maureen Stinger couldn't take the 10-minute ride to the grocery store without at least one book to read in the car. After becoming a lawyer in her early 20s then retiring from law at age 40, Maureen has spent the last few years working as a professional organizer, selling books at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, and figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. She is equally left- and right-brained, which means she enjoys poring over spreadsheets as much as creating colorful things by hand. When not reading or matchmaking readers with their next favorite book, she can be found walking Gatsby the Great Canine, singing with the Richmond Symphony, taking photos of clouds, and doing counted cross-stitch instead of much-needed house repairs. Twitter: @mo_stinger

When eBooks first came out, I was excited about the portability and accessibility. Imagining having a nearly unlimited supply of books that I could hold in one hand, I immediately went out and bought whatever eReader was available at the time and binge-purchased several titles.

Then I started reading them and thought, “Meh.” I was reading too much on screens as it was, just using my computer for work and play, and missed holding an actual book in my hand — the feel, the smell, the sense of accomplishment as you see immediately how many pages you’ve already read. These feelings gradually turned into TOTAL LOVE for paper books and COMPLETE DISDAIN for anything electronic. In short, I became a format snob.

A few years later, when preparing for a long trip that would require multiple books to keep me entertained, I gave eBooks another try. This time, I figured out which books would work best for me in electronic format. Now I strike a happy balance between paper books and eBooks, because for eBooks I stick to certain categories:

  1. Epics. Many stories come in trilogy form these days, and some have even more than three volumes (ahem, George R.R. Martin). When a character shows up at the beginning of Book 3 that you haven’t seen since Book 1, the portability and searchability of eBooks can’t be beaten for refreshing your recollection and figuring out what’s going on. These are also helpful to have in electronic format when they get made into TV shows years later and you’re trying to place characters or plot lines without a whole lot of introduction (again, ahem, George R.R. Martin). Epic novels and series are great to have as eBooks.
  2. Poetry. I don’t read much poetry, but a 2017 goal of mine is to read more. Because the poems I like can be really hit or miss within a collection, it’s nice to have those collections in eBook format so that I can search and annotate the ones that speak to me.
  3. Fitness (or any how-to). Though it took me a while to figure this out, it should be obvious that when trying to perform exercises or follow specific DIY instructions, doing so is easier with just a tablet next to you instead of a bound set of papers you have to keep open to the right page and flip through to find what you need.
  4. Re-reads. I’m a big re-reader. If I love a title, I will usually read it again at least once. Some I will re-read many times over, either newer titles that really spoke to me or classics from my childhood I still like to revisit. If I’m in the mood to read but not in the mood to focus extensively or absorb a lot of new information, finding an old favorite in the e-Library is the perfect solution.

How about you? Do your eBooks fall into specific categories? Let me know in the comments.