I’ve Read the Past, And It Hurts

I took my new paper books on holiday recently. Now there’s a sentence I never expected to write.

According to all the Luddites in the mainstream media, something like 99 per cent of all known life are still reading paper books. Only freaks, geeks, and idiots currently buy ebooks. As a leading ebook blogger, I decided I ought to see what all the fuss is about so I bought some paper books.

I probably make that sound simpler than it really was. What I really did was: Drive to Books-a-Million… Not find all the books I want… Drive to 2nd & Charles… Still not find all the books I want… Drive to both local 2nd hand bookstores… Find a couple titles… Drive to B&N… Give up after spending a day in the car.

One unfortunate deficiency with paper books is that they cannot be downloaded the moment you buy them. They either take days to arrive by mail or you will be forced to spend hours in the car trying to find a bookseller that carries the titles you want.

But I did eventually get my suitcase packed with  the books I bought. Luckily I already had a larger suitcase to use; surprisingly paper books take up far more space than ebooks.

I stepped into the airport with my luggage rolling faithfully behind me, and went to the counter to check in. The clerk told me that I would have to check my bag. It seems that the dozen titles I bought, which would have fitted into an ereader without adding an ounce, weighed too much and took up too much space for them to come into the cabin with me.

My holiday companion sat beside me on the flight, smugly reading her Kindle. By the time we got to the pool (with me panting over my heavy paper books), she had finished her George RR Martin, and I had barely started my Hilary Mantel. With my old tried and true books, I was left behind.

And it was not an uneventful holiday. I was forced to go to a clinic not once but twice. Paper books, despite being reportedly more eco-friendly, are also more dangerous to use.  The edges of a page are quite sharp, leading to several cuts which got infected. What’s more, those hardback books were much larger and heavier than the paper books I had been told to expect. The effect they can have on your toes when knocked off a table are frightening to contemplate.

I got back from holiday with a limp, a bottle of antibiotics, and no lovely ebooks to share on one of the (authorized) lending sites, meaning that I was powerless to prevent my holiday companion from sharing Glen Beck’s latest work via my account then using the credit to borrow another ebook.

Next time I go on holiday, I’m taking only small, light, cheap ebooks, and then I’m going to bring them home and arrange them on Goodreads by author and title. I may be mistaken for a freak, a geek, and an idiot, but I’ll have read comfortably and I will be able to boast that I brought my entire library with me.

Editor’s Note: The above post was a satire of this article by Katy Guest. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

image by nedrichards

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Brett3 June, 2012

    I liked that satire.

    Seriously, though, I think physical books are starting to annoy me. It’s hard to take notes and mark passages while you read without permanently damaging the book, it’s harder to read them in general, and it hurts your wrist to hold some of the big door-stop sized novels that I like to read (such as the A Song of Ice and Fire novels).

  2. :)3 June, 2012


  3. Tyler3 June, 2012

    I knew it couldn’t have been you writing it when I read this line, “My holiday companion sat beside me on the flight, smugly reading her Kindle.”

    That would imply you travel with a girl.


    1. Tyler3 June, 2012

      I just read her article and see what a tool she is.

      1. Nate Hoffelder3 June, 2012

        I’m not so sure. I wonder if her article might have been satire.

        1. Tyler3 June, 2012

          Maybe she thinks she is funny.

  4. Sturmund Drang3 June, 2012

    Reading Glen Beck, and nobody will mistake you for an idiot.

    I reamin expectantly awaiting your rejoinder,



  5. Sturmund Drang3 June, 2012

    Of course I do myself no favours mispelling “remain”.

  6. Sturmund Drang3 June, 2012

    And finally, yes, that was a very nice parody. Well done.

  7. […] The dangers of NOT reading ebooks on holiday. (Satire alert.) […]

  8. John Stackhouse25 July, 2016

    Unfortunately, I’m old and let’s face it, the wheels are coming off. I also suffer from macular degeneration and have lost the sight in my right eye. (Bring up sad violins.) My sight sometimes vanishes. If it weren’t for Kindles I couldn’t read. I use big fonts until my sight returns. With this handicap, I still buy the odd physical book as a sort of comforter. You could probably sell me the Sydney harbour bridge. Without ebooks, I’d be bereft.

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