E-Reading Woes



I’ve had a huge shift in my reading over the past year, where I went from reading almost exclusively in e-book to full on paper. While I just assumed my preferences were gradually changing, and still feel quite convinced they have, I’ve recently started to wonder if my e-reader might be to blame.

Kelly from The Well-Read Readhead posted about her reading habits last week, and after commenting I had a bit of a light bulb moment. I was reading on an old Kindle 3 in my high usage e-reading days. It was bare bones, but super easy to download books and really lightweight. The downside? No backlight to read in bed at night. I had planned to upgrade to a Paperwhite for its backlight, but Barnes and Noble started to discount their tablets and I snagged a Nook HD+ for just a few dollars more.

Did I need a tablet? Not really. But I figured it would be nice to have the added features for almost the same price. Looking back over the past year, I’ve never used the tablet for anything other than reading. I’m just not a tablet person. I use my laptop wherever I need to in the house and my phone when I’m out. That means I’ve basically been using my Nook as a dedicated e-reader, but unfortunately it’s not very practical. It’s way too big to just throw in my bag and just feels heavy when reading. No wonder my e-reading has slumped.

I’m thinking I might try to sell the Nook and jump down to either a Paperwhite or a Kobo Glo. I know the rest of the world is leaving their dedicated e-reader in the dust, but I’m starting to think it might be just what I need.


Have you noticed your e-reading changing depending on the device you use?


  • I’ve been gravitating back to paper as well, as you know. I use my Nook HD+ for so much more than reading (lots of music and music teaching stuff, especially). But when I use it I read, I’ve found my reading experience is worlds better when I turn the Wi-Fi off. I agree that it feels heavy though. In the pit this time around, I’ve been reading on my phone instead of my Nook, since there isn’t much time to read anyhow – one less thing in my gig bag. I’ll be interested to see how you like going for something simpler.

    • I started to use the Moon Reader feature that lets you pick up in the same place on your phone that you are in your e-book…and I realized I haven’t picked up my Nook in months because I’ve been reading almost everything on my phone (even though it’s SO small). I think it would be practical if I actually used the tablet, but I just don’t. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner!

  • I have a Kindle Paperwhite and while I LOVE how it feels when I’m reading it, I just plain prefer flipping physical pages. I’m also the kind of reader who misses details easily so I like having the flexibility of flipping back to earlier parts in the book whether it’s a few pages or a couple hundred. I know I can still do that with my e-reader but sometimes it’s hard to visualize which page I want to flip to to find that small detail. I guess everyone has their preferences and needs!

    • I definitely prefer the feel of reading a physical book, too, and definitely notice that certain reading experiences are just better in paper than they are in e-format. I think the Paperwhite is really similar to the Kindle I had (but just nicer and backlit), so it’s one I’m considering going to.

  • I’m still reading from my original Kindle. It’s so old that I don’t know it by any other name than the first Kindle that was produced in 2009/2010(?). I use it exclusively when I am reading during the day or at the gym. At night, I use my iPad mini because of the backlit feature, and only because of that. I prefer to use my Kindle because it’s lightweight and more portable. I prefer to keep my iPad for its tablet capacity. I’ve definitely used it for an e-reader when traveling to cut down on the number of devices that I’m shlepping.

    • That’s similar to the one I had (it was the Kindle Keyboard before they renamed it that). I hate the thought of having another separate device, but I’v never been good enough on a tablet to completely cut myself from my laptop…I end up bringing it on almost all my trips (such a bad habit)!

  • I’ll be honest it has changed within the last month since my (Nexus 7) tablet has been broken. I’ve been reading from my phone which is fine, but I haven’t been reading as much. Of course, it might have something to do with I’ve been on hold at the library for quite a few books that haven’t come in until recently either.

    I’d use my old Nook Glowlight but the screen is wonky. I don’t mind the tablet being a bit larger and I don’t get distracted by other things on it when I’m reading. I just can shut those things out to focus on the reading, but I know it’s not that easy for everyone.

    • I almost wish I would get distracted because then I would at least be using the tablet for something other than reading! It’s so weird to me that I’m resistant to tablets, but I’d so much rather pick up my phone or laptop to internet around. Maybe the Nook HD is an awkward size that I never adjusted to? I’m not sure, but I’m glad that I started to figure out what wasn’t working for me.

  • Bookmammal

    Stopping by from Steadfast Reader–I always prefer “real” books, but I do use my kindle for traveling and for requesting digital ARCs. Right now I’m using my original kindle keyboard model, but I’ve almost completely decided to upgrade to the Kindle Voyager when it’s released in October. I have the kindle app on my iPod but I never use it–I don’t like reading on such a small screen.

    • The Kindle Keyboard is what I had and I think I’d be much happier with the Voyager or Paperwhite than what I have right now, since I just do minimal (occasional e-ARC) reading. Sounds like you’re making the right choice :)

  • The only thing that has changed my e-reading habits is that I lost my charger, and every time I’m in Barnes & Noble, I forget to buy one because I’m so distracted by all those beautiful books. I really need to replace the charger though because lately, I’ve been reading on my phone instead. I don’t like the backlighting because it makes my eyes tired and of course the screen is small. Still, I’m 50/50 when it comes to tangible books and e-readers.

    • I’ve done some reading on my phone, too, and I think I could be okay with it if it wasn’t for the small size. I hope you get that charger so you can get back to reading!

  • I have a Paperwhite and I LOVE it. I can read in the dark with the backlight. I can read outside without glare. It holds a charge for a long time. It is thin and lightweight and easily portable. The only kind of e-book I don’t read on it are graphic novels because it is in b&w so I read those on Kindle PC so I can get the full effect of the graphics.

    • It seems like it would be the best solution for me (and probably should have been what I went with from the beginning!)

  • I own both a tablet and a dedicated ereader (a very old Kindle keyboard) and I never read on the tablet. A dedicated ereader has such a smooth reading experience, and honestly, nothing tops e-ink for reading long stretches of time. If this Kindle breaks, I’ll sure get a new one, cause I don’t want to get stuck reading on a clunky tablet.

  • I have a Kobo touch, the model just below the Glo, because I didn’t want the backlight, but that’s just because I’m weird like that. I didn’t want a tablet because I wanted something to read and nothing else. I love the Kobo design, is light and I have no problem reading outside, is never put of battery and I charge it maybe 1-2 a month if I’m using it a lot that particular month. I can’t compare with Kindle, because I’ve never tried one, but I am very happy with my Kobo and the platform it comes with. Also I’ve never had a problem with compatibility when checking out books from my library. Good luck with whichever you go with :)

    • I’m so glad to hear from someone who has a Kobo! I’m not really thrilled with the thought of going back with Amazon, but the only thing attracting me is the ease of wireless downloading.

      • The books I’ve acquired through Kobo are sync automatically through wireless both on my Touch or my ohone /PC app. I do have yo download and then transfer e-galleys, but I’ve never had an issue with it, it takes a couple of minutes and I’m good to go.

  • I use a K3 most of the time, mostly for ARCs and NetGalley stuff — also the Sunday NYT book review. For books I pay money for, I usually go through Fountain Bookstore/Kobo and read in the Kobo app on my iPad. I don’t read in bed, so that’s never been a consideration, though the Paperwhite seems a great option for folks who do.
    I still read tons on the K3 and iPad, but also read plenty on paperbooks, too. I find the K3 to be the easiest of all those to read on, and have been living in fear that the cracks at the bottom corners of the screen with continue to spread.

    • Ooo, those corner cracks combined with my itch for a backlight were what sparked my upgrade in the first place. I think I’m really just starting to miss the lightweight/e-ink combination of the Kindle.

  • I have a basic Kindle, but I’ve never used it much. But I’m glad I have a dedicated e-reader rather than a tablet; I feel like a tablet would just be too distracting, if I could just jump over to Twitter with the click of a button. I have no desire to use a tablet in my non-reading time; the boyfriend has an iPad, and I’ve never used it. I do just fine with my laptop and phone.

    • Yeah, I thought I might use a tablet in place of my laptop (since most of my idle internet time is spent on social media), but I really just prefer my laptop and phone. I think it just makes more sense to have a more basic reader.

  • I’m a big fan of the Kindle Paperwhite – I honestly prefer it to print books, mostly for the backlight feature as I read way longer than the husband wants to keep the light on. That being said I also have an iPad, that I got for a law school graduation present (I never would have shelled out the money otherwise). …and I love that too, but I agree with @leahbooksspeakvolumes:disqus that it’s way more distracting to read on that than it is to read on the Kindle. Plus the Kindle is way easier on the eyes.

    I’ve probably used my iPad more than my phone because I have an iPhone 4 which is SLOWER THAN SLOW. It’s basically only good to take pictures on (and talk, of course) at this point, there’s not even a talk to text feature – so when people are using their iPhones to text me and I’m at home, I text them back using my computer. :)

    • I keep getting excited when I hear good things about the Paperwhite, because I think that was what I was always leaning toward from the beginning.

  • As the Crowe Flies

    I still prefer print books, but sometimes it’s not practical to lug 30+ books with me on vacation. For that, I’m learning to love my Kobo Glo, and sometimes when I can only get an ARC of a book digitally, it’s what I NEED in order to read. (Plus, you know, indie booksellers can get a small piece of the pie when I purchase ebooks from Kobo instead of Amazon, which I LOATHE.)

    I really dislike reading on a backlit screen, so even though I do have a small tablet (with Android platform), I only use it for email, internet, etc and not for reading.

    • I definitely try to choose indie over Amazon, but the one thing I did like about having a Kindle was being able to wirelessly download eARCS through NetGalley and Edelweiss. The Nook was a TOTAL pain to sideload into. Is it pretty easy to get ARCs into the Glo? I like that they’re offering refurbished versions right now and I’d totally jump on one if they’re pretty easy to use.

  • JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    I have an old nook that I never use (no light), a gorgeous new iPad that I love (but not for reading), and a first generation paperwhite that I cannot live without. Most of the time I even prefer it to physical books… and I NEVER thought that would happen! A dedicated e-reader is exactly what I needed, too.

    • I definitely lost the attachment I had to e-reading and though I really like reading paper books, it’s just not practical for travel…I’d really like to find something that works for me!

  • I love my Paperwhite. The backlight is a marriage saver ;) I’m with the others who said that a tablet would be way too distracting. I’d be too tempted to play around with other stuff.

    • I was SO desperate for a backlight when I had my regular Kindle! I bought one of the attachable lights, but it just wasn’t the same.

  • I would never leave me dedicated e-reader. I don’t want a tablet (our family has one but my kid is the only one who uses it). I want an e-reader that is lightweight, easy on the eyes and small enough to take everywhere. I still have an old basic model KOBO and I love it. Yes, I have to side load, but does that really take so much time?

    • Sideloading on my Nook was horrible, but I think they’re kind of notorious for being bad. From what I’ve heard the Kobos are pretty great and I’m definitely considering a Glo.

      • Back when KOBO was still a Canadian company I worked for them. That was 5? 6? years ago. At that time, their product was really good. As I say, i still have the basic model but I’m happy and my F-i-L has the glo and he likes it. Quite frankly if he can side load on it, it can’t be too hard.

  • I have an iPad from work that I use to read comics and ebooks that only come in PDF format (mostly monographs checked out from my academic library). Apart from that, my dedicated ereader, which is the most basic of Nooks, more than meets my needs. I don’t need to always be connected to the internet, and I rarely need the backlight.

    • I think being able to read graphic novels in color might be the only thing I’ll miss about not having a tablet, but even that happens so rarely.

  • I have a Kindle Fire that I like, but don’t love. And I don’t think I’ve ever used it for anything other than reading. Maybe I’ve checked Facebook on it…? Haha, I don’t even know.

  • For a long time when I was reading e-books I only used my Kindle 3 and when I wanted to read at night I would clip a book light to it. Then when I got an ipad mini I started using my dedicated e-reader less an less. For me it was because I could read Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Overdrive books on one device.

    The Kobo Glo looks pretty cool though and one of the pluses of the e-ink is that the battery life last soo long !

    • I totally forgot about the battery life perk! The sad thing about my Nook battery life? I would go so long NOT using it that the battery would always be dead :(

  • I know what you mean about tablets. I bought a Kindle Fire and rarely use it. I’m more addicted to my Kindle. I remember at first thinking I would hardly use the kindle, but now I can’t stop reading on it. I am thinking of buying the new kindle voyage though, because mine is cracked and the screen is too dark – I want the paperwhite screen. Hope whichever new e-reader you select helps you with your reading :)

    • The Voyage does look really nice! I’m interested to see what people think of them when they’re first out.

  • Yes, yes, yes! Ditch the Nook tablet for Paperwhite! I feel exactly the same as you do…I have an iPad and I never use it to read. Too heavy, big, and cumbersome. I love my Kindle Paperwhite and read exclusively on it (I haven’t read a paper book in years and only accept electronic ARCs). I literally can’t think of a product in any genre that I love more than my Kindle :)

    • I don’t think I’m giving up paper any time soon, but I just listed my Nook on eBay today, so it’s headed out the door :)

  • Lost in Literature

    I have a Kindle (keyboard) that I use for all my e-reading. I also have a Kindle Fire but I don’t like reading on that one, the light is too much. I just use it as a tablet. I don’t have back lighting on my keyboard but my Kindle cover has a light so I still get to read in bed and in the car in the dark and all that. I’d love to upgrade to the paper white but I can’t justify it because what I have still works great. Plus, what happens if the light breaks or goes out on the paper white? If my light goes out on my cover all I have to do is replace the cover.

    I love paper books too, especially when they look so great on my shelf, but the e-reader is way more comfortable and convenient. To me. Really, I read a lot of both.

    • Yeah, either way I think I’m definitely going to continue to read in paper, but I would really like to get back into e-reading for travel and convenience. I’m really thinking that the tablet was my issue and need to look into something else :)

  • Tanya M

    Omg, I adore my dedicated e-reader and yes its a Paperwhite. I start going in panic mode if I can’t find it and as a cruel joke my hubby has threatened to hide it to get my attention. :) I have been getting paper ARCs and read Unbroken on hardcover and that has been slowing me down. I love reading at night with just the Kindle on, just me and the words on the page, nothing else I see to distract me.

    • I’m still very much a paper gal, but I desperately want the ease of reading in bed at night! Love that you’re husband found just the way to get to you ;)

      • Tanya M

        Yea I get most of my reading done at night, even if it means I stay up late to do it. It’s the only time I can read uninterrupted :)

  • I’ve enjoyed my Kindle (basic, no frills, got it as a gift a while ago) and notice I tend to have either library books or comfort reads on it, since I take it with me when I travel/commute. I found that there are times when I use it more often than others, and it is great when my bag is already too heavy! I’m glad I’ve got an older version – I like *just* being able to read, and not have to check email or Facebook or anything on it. Good luck finding the right one for you, and happy reading :)

    • I think that’s pretty much exactly what I’d use it for…at least, it’s the type of books I’ve kept on my Nook, but it’s been too big to carry around with me easily!

  • It sucks that the size is putting you off, but I admire you for sticking to just reading. It seems like reading on a tablet can lead to a lot of distractions, versus a dedicated ereader.

    I have a Kobo Touch (recently upgraded for free thanks to a defect in my original 1st gen Kobo… they told me to send it in for a replacement and sent back this one instead) and while I do sometimes wish for a light, mostly it serves my needs just fine. I can’t see myself upgrading again any time soon, so I guess I should just invest in a book light that will also fit my Kobo.

    • Glad to hear another endorsement of the Kobo…I’m definitely giving up the Nook, now I just have to pick its replacement!

      • I’ve always liked my Kobo. I got it for cheap when Borders was going out of business. Granted I don’t have any Nook or Kindle experience to compare it to, but I’ve always liked its simplicity. I have a feeling I’d really like a Glo, I just don’t see myself spending the money since I really don’t do that much ereading.

  • I have a Paperwhite which is great but I just don’t get the same level of enjoyment. I’m doing something different, I’m making the move away from ebooks and back to paper only. I must be getting old :P

    • I definitely prefer paper (I think I’ve only read about 3 or 4 e-books this year), but I’d really like to have the option when I’m traveling or just out and need something to read. I’ve damaged quite a few books by shoving them in bags and e-reading helps stop that :)

  • I (Penny) use the Kobo Glo. LOVE it. My husband is/has always been after me to buy a tablet instead of an e-reader. But I remain firm on reading on a dedicated e-reader. I use it to read only, and find that a backlit tablet is hard on the eyes (not to mention the distraction of everything else). The Kobo Glo is fantastic – you just pop on that little light, adjust the brightness and away you go. My reading habits though I would say are 50/50 – I think I’m reading more with physical books, and sometimes prefer those, but for e-reading, I just can’t tell you how happy I am with the Kobo Glo.

    • That’s so great to hear! I’m so torn between a Glo and a Paperwhite! I’ve been watching comparison videos and weighing between the two but I think I’m starting to lean toward the Glo.

  • Sarah Says Read

    I looooove my Paperwhite, but I also want a Kindle Fire (for reading digital comics). It seems ridiculous to have both a dedicated e-reader and a tablet (AND a laptop, I could never do everything on just a tablet), but they both have their perks and are useful for different things.

    I think e-readers do still have a place and purpose – that e-ink screen is REALLY handy for reading at night and in the sunshine without glare.

    • I think comics/graphic novels was really the only perk of having the tablet for me (because they were really pretty looking!), but yeah…it’s going to be nice to go back to a dedicated reader.

  • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

    Thanks for the shout out! Glad you seem to have gotten to the bottom of your e-reading slump. I truly do not understand why more readers aren’t interested in a dedicated e-reader. I’ve tried reading on my iPhone via the Kindle app before, and it just sucks–tiny tiny print, way too tough on the eyes. Then you move to an iPad/Kindle Fire/etc and, as you said, way too clunky. Dedicated e-readers bridge the gap.
    I know I said I’m in an e-reading slump, but I still have to promote the awesomeness of the Paperwhite. That backlight is clutch. It’s the only way I can read and not wake my husband up at night. And I love the progress bar at the bottom. Hope you find something that works!!

    • I’m SO excited to have the option to read in bed. Even though that was the whole purpose of upgrading, the size of the tablet just totally stops me from doing it…I have a feeling my e-reading might really change from here on out.

  • Jennine G.

    I’ve noticed I read faster on my Kindle app (on my iPad). I don’t have the locs/pages on the bottom so I can’t always see how much there is to go, so it can’t be a distraction. Sometimes I do find myself distracted though because there’s other stuff on the iPad that I can do.

  • Ciska van der Lans

    I still got an older Kindle keyboard and I am scared for the day it will die. I love reading on it. With the back light options I have been eying newer models but I cannot really find the need for it just yet.
    When my boss told me two years ago I had some of my budget left over I asked if I was allowed to buy a tablet as that was the only thing I could come up with and he allowed it. So I got a Kobo Arc mostly to be able to pick up comics for review or books with lot of images.
    So I got two ereaders but I hardly ever use my tablet. I find the light to bright even with the paper set to black with white letters and it indeed feels bulkier compared to my Kindle.
    When I go on holiday or just a weekend somewhere I usually bring both machines. One to read and the other to watch Netflix …

  • Nishita

    I find it hard going on an e-reader. Unless I am really, really obsessing about books, paper has always been best for me.

  • Claudine

    I love this discussion. I’m probably 85% paper, 15% Kindle Fire (my son’s, or sometimes I read in the kindle app on my phone if I’m out and about and have no choice). I get books from the library through Overdrive, which is no easy feat, but I never been able to afford to buy all the books I read. Here’s my problem with any kind of e-reading: I’m a medical editor. 95% of the editing I do during the day is done on my computer screen. And there’s a good deal of my editing that’s done by just scanning, letting my brain read for sentence structure, syntax spelling–not absorbing deeply for content. That comes at a different stage. When I read for pleasure in any electronic medium, I have to fight my brain’s desire to be in “editing mode.” I have to constantly force myself to slow down, remind myself that I’m reading for fun, not to find mistakes. It brings about an agitated feeling. With paper (as I noticed last night as I cracked open the gorgeous hard-cover version of The Goldfinch, which I’d received last Christmas), my brain seems to know that we’re in relaxed, pleasure mode; I can just slow down and savor the author’s words.

  • Great discussion! So fun to read everyone’s comments. I was reading strictly on my Kobo ereader (hence my name), but my over the past year and have switched back most print books. It’s so nice to feel the texture of the pages and not tap or swipe anything up down side to side, etc.

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