Sunday 11 December 2016

Take a holiday from those weighty tomes

Ronan Price on why he will be taking his e-reader away with him this summer

Published 05/07/2015 | 02:30

You're on holiday - just enjoy your ebook
You're on holiday - just enjoy your ebook

You can't sniff a Kindle. Well, you can but you don't get that delightful bookish smell of paper beloved of true readers. Whether freshly printed or slightly musty, the pages of a book maintain an allure that no slab of electronics can ever match.

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But on my holiday next month, even when I'm mixing it with sun, sea and sand on the beach, no books will accompany me. It's partly because, like most Irish men, I'm rubbish at packing. There'll be no room left in my suitcase for chunky tomes because it's full of stuff destined to go unused, such as snorkel gear, ironed shirts and, um, sunscreen.

But mostly it's because, as an inveterately lazy procrastinator, I can't be bothered choosing which of my books to bring. Why not bring them all? Therefore, my Kindle will make the trip with me abroad, filled with dozens of unread novels in ebook form and fitting easily into a pocket.

There'll be no last-minute, harassed rush to choose an overpriced pot-boiler at the airport shop. 10 minutes' browsing on an e-reader can find me potentially hundreds of free reads in the form of out-of-copyright classics such as The Great Gatsby or The Picture of Dorian Gray.

More likely, my eye will be drawn to one of several recent novels bought as ebooks at knock-down prices in the last few months with just such a holiday in mind.

The beauty of e-readers is that most models come equipped with WiFi - some Kindles even have free 3G, roaming included.

That enables you to buy pretty much any book no matter where you are. So when you run out of patience with Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (one survey last week found that only 44pc of readers actually finished that epic doorstop), you're only a couple of taps away from something more palatable while on holiday.

The vast catalogue of ebooks, not to mention the cheaper pricing, greatly outweighs any selection you'll stumble across at the local supermercado on the Costa Blanca or wherever.

The irony is that my Kindle barely gets a look-in the rest of the year. With just one book on the go, paper wins out every time. Robust, never needing charging and tactile as you flip from page to page, books in physical form have deservedly stood the test of time.

Research shows you retain more information when reading on paper. Yet on the beach with the sprawling plot of a George RR Martin novel, who cares if you can't remember every nuance, every character motivation, every twist of Lannister vs Stark? You're on holiday, for heaven's sake. Just enjoy it.

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