Monday, April 9, 2012

Taking an e-reader on vacation? Pros and cons

So I just came back from a week's vacation, and for the first time ever, the only reading material I brought was on my Nook.  To be honest, it made me more than a little anxious.  What if my reader malfunctioned?  What if it wouldn't hold a charge?  But one of the reasons I used to justify purchasing it in the first place was the fact that whenever I go on vacation, I practically need an extra bag just to pack my books.  Not that I necessarily read all of them, but I don't always know what I'm going to feel like reading next, so I like to have a nice selection to choose from.

This time I had some books that I had purchased, a few I'd gotten from Google books, and a whole bunch that I checked out from my library's digital catalog.  I could have also downloaded some magazines - Barnes and Noble lets you try a free month's subscription of anything that's on there, I believe - but I had plenty of stuff so I felt fairly confident.  My kids each have the black and white Nook, so I loaded everything on theirs (most of the books were kids' and YA, so we were reading mainly the same stuff), including some things of mine they might not have been that interested in, just in case one of the e-readers broke and we needed to share.  Luckily, that didn't happen.

So here's my breakdown of the pros and cons of taking only digital reading material on vacation:

1. Trying to orchestrate the library's digital catalog so that holds placed would come in at the right time to check out the digital books we wanted to read is very tricky.  Some of the books I was dying to read came in too soon, so that they would have expired only a day or two into our vacation.  My library allows 10 digital checkouts on each person's card, so I had to put things on hold on different cards and hope for the best.  In the end I mainly got things that were available for checkout a day or two before we left, and that did work out fairly well, but it was challenging and time consuming to take care of ahead of time, when there was so much vacation prep to take care already.

2. (And this one didn't occur to me till I was on the plane): E-readers are digital devices!  (Duh.)  So you have to turn them off at the beginning and end of flights. What a pain! I really, really didn't like that at all. To the point where I'd probably bring a magazine or something else just to have during those times.

3. I worried about my reader getting stolen when I left it behind with my stuff by the pool or on the beach.  Not only would that be expensive to replace, but it would effectively nix all my vacation reading material!  Luckily that didn't happen.

4. My color Nook is difficult to read in the sun.  The girls' simple touch Nooks have that paper look to them (but they can't handle graphic novels or magazines in color), so they were okay, but the color Nook is best read in the shade.  Without sunglasses. I didn't love struggling to read the screen in the sunlight.

5. Having to remember to keep it charged.  The color Nook has poor battery power - I had to remember to recharge it every night, but I'm kind of used to that because of the poor staying power of my iPhone's battery.  I remembered to do it, so it wasn't an issue, but it certainly isn't something I need to think about when it comes to regular books!

1. I had about twenty books on there, way more than I knew I'd be able to read, and that gives me a safe, cozy feeling.

2. It doesn't take up much space - certainly not as much space as that many books, so I just kept it in my bag and had something to read with me all the time.

3. I love my Nook cover, which turns into a stand like this:
It's great for restaurant use! And for pool-side reading (in the shade).

4. All my reading material was in one place, so when I finished a book, I just had to scroll through my options to see what I felt like reading next.  I didn't have to lug along a second book in case I finished the current one.

5. While the Nook Color isn't great for bright sunlight, it is perfect for darker places, so in the darkened airplane or at night when the kids were trying to sleep but I wanted to read, it was great - no book light needed, and I could make the screen dim enough (and change the text size) that I could still see, but the light didn't bother anyone. This is also great for nighttime car rides.  

6. I was able to put the library books I checked out on everyone's Nooks, plus the books that I have purchased.  We could all share and even read the same book simultaneously.  We really liked that.  It was fun to read the same books as my kids and talk about them as we went along.

So, my conclusions after this e-reader-only vacation are that yes, I would definitely do it again.  BUT - I would definitely bring at least one printed thing to read on the plane. I really didn't like sitting there, feeling envious of the people around me who had regular printed books to read during takeoff and landing.

Has anyone else experimented with books vs. e-readers on vacation?  Have I overlooked anything?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Hey Darla!! I have to say that as much as I LOVE my Nook Color, I still leave it home when I go on vacation. I don't know why, but I still just love to have my paper books on vacation. I guess I'm just too scared of it being damaged or lost or stolen or something or me forgetting it somewhere. Or forgetting to charge it…like you said, that Nook Color FLIES through it's battery charge! But after reading this post, you know I may just reconsider and maybe bring it along next time :) And I don't know why but I STILL haven't checked out any ebooks from my library! I don't even know how that works, lol…I guess I should go investigate that….

  2. Excellent post! This is all very valuable information for Future Jenny who might buy a Nook -- but I would probably get the regular Nook, because of the expense and because I'd rather read graphic novels as physical books anyway. So at the least I wouldn't have to worry about sun. The plane thing is such a good reminder though!

  3. Chris - it's a little tricky the first time you do the digital checkout. If your library uses Overdrive like ours does, I can troubleshoot for you. Just let me know if you have any problems! The idea is that you download the book to the computer (and have to install the Adobe Digital Editions app), and then you just plug in your Nook with the USB cord and drag the book over to the Nook location. The books show up in your files, so you might have to poke around to find them. Give it a try - you'll love it!

    Jenny - I'd recommend that simple touch b & w one, really - the battery charge lasts forever, and I find it a little too much work at this point to read graphic novels on there. That will probably improve with time, but for the cost difference it's definitely the way to go, particularly if you don't plan on reading lots of magazines or picture books on there.

  4. I actually would have to buy a different e-reader to take it on vacation. My current one will only charge if it is plugged into a computer. As I find that very annoying, I would prefer one you could plug into the wall. Mine does hold a charge for a while, but I only read it sometimes. If it had to be my only reading material the battery would die sooner.

  5. Kailana - Oh, that's too bad. Maybe they sell a plug that you can put your USB cord in to charge it? My kids' black and white Nooks only came with the USB/computer cord, but luckily they fit into the outlet charger that came with my color one. Just a thought. :)


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