Trading a paper book for plastic is easier than I thought

This summer, I tried something I thought I’d never do.

No, I didn’t rob a bank or like the U.S. president. I read a book. Not that I haven’t read a book before. It’s how I read the book that I’d never done before.

Maybe I should explain.

This summer, it happened to be yet another birthday for yours truly and the Better Half.

Coincidentally, her birthday is two days after mine, but many years before mine, which is patently obvious.

We were gifted many nice things from The Rotten Kids, including a small, thin electronic device.

The son, R.K., said it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, although he didn’t say exactly that, on account of the fact he’s too young to use an expression from my fossilized era.

It was one of those e-readers called a Kobo, which sounds like the name for a pet donkey, but is actually a pretty impressive piece of plastic.

It’s about twice the size of a regular cellphone, but smaller than a mini-iPad, and fits comfortably in your hand.

I didn’t even know how to turn it on.

It turns out, however, that after a brief three-hour lesson, the e-reader was surprisingly easy to work. For most people.

I accidentally downloaded a book for $14.99, when I thought I was getting a different book for $4.99. It was all good, though. It was a very good book.

One of the best things about it was the fact that you don’t always have to pay for a book.

My sister-in-law (since I haven’t asked permission to use her name, I’ll just call her Theresa) said, “You can borrow books from the library on your e-reader, you know.”

And my first thought was, “Well, that’s awesome, Theresa. I go to the library all the time. I’ll just take my Kobo and …”

But of course, I’m a moron. After another brief three-hour lesson, I learned that borrowing books on an e-reader was relatively easy. I only accidentally checked out two books I didn’t want before I figured it out. No problem.

But why an e-reader? Most of us bookphiles love the feel of a book, unless it’s a hardcover 800-page, five-kilogram Stephen King novel that you need three assistants to hold up for you when you’re trying to read in bed.

But with an electronic device, you can load a hundred books if you want to. And get this: it still looks and weighs the same.

Great for travelling. Great if you’re like me and read about three chapters of most books and then give up and try another one. It really does give you the warm fuzzies to know you are carrying a dozen or so bestsellers in your pocket.

But what about going from paper to plastic? Isn’t it weird or dumb, holding a thin rectangle, staring at yet another little screen, you may ask?

And I’m glad you may have asked, because that was my first (and second) thought. But it turns out, it’s quite excellent, aside from the blinding headaches and double vision you get after two chapters.

Just kidding. It is easy-peasy to get used to and even fun to read from an e-device. And you can increase your bedtime reading because you can turn out the light and read in the dark, so you don’t have to disturb your Better Half.

There’s one critical thing I’ve recently discovered, however. It’s probably best you don’t use your e-reader in the bathtub.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. He can be reached at

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