Do You like your e-reader? Six takes from academics

The Chronicle asked 6 professors what they thought of their ereader. There are some really interesting responses in here. Each one is long enough to be an essay or blog post.

My Kindle's great. It's just not a book. I use it to read, and I don't use it to read. What it has done is make me look at my own reading practices and those of colleagues, trying to understand some of the many different behaviors that we call "reading," and how they flourish or don't flourish. It makes me wonder if's Jeff Bezos really likes to read­—or what he means by "reading."


I am a geek and a lover of gadgets. I've got Apple products, I've got Microsoft products, I've got Linux machines, I've got Android machines. I blog. I tweet. I'm a mayor on the social-networking site Foursquare. I teach and conduct research on contemporary literature, new media, and video games. I read. A lot. You'd think I'd be the first person around to have a Kindle, a Nook, or an iPad. But I don't. I don't have an ereader, and if I had one I wouldn't be able to use it.


I like but don't love to read on my Kindle. It's a fun, intriguing device, but it has not yet displaced the hardcovers that I prefer for both professional and plain-old-fun reading. If I'm on a long trip, I'll bring the Kindle as a way to have multiple books and articles with me, while saving my back from carrying a whole slew of them in printed copy. Too often, though, I find myself with a dead battery at an inopportune time or a sore hand from clicking the pages from one to the next. I'm a believer in the possibilities of reading on digital devices, especially during interstitial moments in the day. But the user interface and the industrial design have a ways to go before I, for one, am a total convert.


In digital terms, the main obstacle for me has been interactivity. I need to be able to write in the books I read, and if I own the book—whether in the form of pulped trees or as a collection of magnetized zeros and ones—I want to be able to take notes in it.


I'm an early adopter and an Apple zealot, so I pretty much knew as soon as the iPad was announced that I'd be getting one. I preordered it through my college's bookstore and picked it up the morning it was released. And I've been thrilled with it so far as an all-around media-consumption device: I've used it to read and watch videos on airplanes, as well as to keep me amused and busy while stuck in bed sick.


A year or two ago, my boyfriend's mother generously sent him a Kindle as a birthday present. I eyed it with suspicion and left it alone; he, preferring to read economics blogs when not programming, followed my lead. The Kindle sat there gathering dust until one of our friends asked to borrow it for a lengthy vacation. She came back raving about it. Finally, my curiosity piqued, I took it back (she immediately bought a new one; she has a real job) and started experimenting.

About Nate Hoffelder (11466 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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