How being an expat made me an ebook lover

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Every so often, one comes across futile (in my opinion) discussions about whether a real book is better than a eBook or not. Really, who cares as long as we can access books?

I've been a user of eBook readers for a couple of years now and my line has always been:

"Well, I know it's not the same as a real book, but I use an eBook reader because it's so portable and I can easily get the eBooks while abroad (i.e., outside of English- and Japanese-speaking countries)."

Note the slightly apologetic tone, as if I fail some kind of 'book-lover' qualification if I don't appreciate real books over eBooks.

Actually, I love physical books. Especially for anything that requires flipping back and forth and marking up, it's just easier to navigate. And having my favorite books in my bookshelf appeals to the hoarder in me.

But lately I realized that life as an expat has made me utterly reliant on my Kindle (and formerly my rooted Nook Simple Touch), and even when I have the option to read a physical book, I am left wishing that I had it on Kindle instead.

The reasons are nothing surprising:

  • Availability: I can get a hold of any book I want to read, as long as it's available for downloading. Apart from Amazon, other favorite sites include my library's Overdrive and Project Gutenberg.
  • Instant satisfaction: No need to wait for weeks for the book to arrive from overseas (not to mention potential customs hassles); just give me a WiFi connection and I can start reading immediately.
  • Portability: I can carry as many eBooks as I like, and switch between reading them as the mood strikes. And it's one less worry if you have to move to another country.

And the top reason why I can't live without my Kindle anymore?

  • It comes with a light :D :D

Yes yes, don't tell me I could get a book light for my physical books—the reality is that that would be too unwieldy, especially for Japanese pocket-sized books.

Having this light is what makes the difference between me being able to read the book and not, during those countless hours spent in the dark nursing a child, sitting next to my light-sensitive husband at night, or evenings waiting in a car for an interminable light to change...

Conclusion: Being an expat, and especially an expat parent, tips the balance towards eBooks.

In the end, like I said at the top, who cares as long as we have access to books that we want to read?

P.S. For those of you who still think that physical books are best for book lovers, here are 10 great reasons (which I agree with!) that will make you feel good in your preference: Drop That Kindle! 10 Reasons Print Books Are Better Than E-Books


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