Once upon a time, I used to take along several books to read while on holiday. That was in addition to the country or city guidebook I took along as a reference tool. Then along came the big bad wolf in the guise of the blue and yellow Ryanair and its co-conspirator the vivid orange Easyjet. They reduced our baggage allowance and the size of our permitted luggage so the bulky, heavy books had to go.
What would we do without our reading matter and reference tools?
Now we could take our books with us in digital format on devices that weighed less than a single book and were smaller than a standard paperback. Indeed we could now pack hundreds of books and thumb our noses at the airline villains of our travel experience.
I have to admit that I was a late convert to the Kindle. I had the app on my tablet but hardly used it preferring the feel of a physical book in my hands. Then we had a holiday booked to Spain. We planned a cabin-baggage-only trip and that meant the choice between comfortable footwear or a single book. I wanted to take a guidebook and more than one book to read. The footwear won and I found myself buying a Kindle (£).
I bought the cheapest of the versions Amazon offer as I was still unsure whether I wanted a Kindle. It was a decision I was to regret a few days later but I’ll come back to that. I also purchased the Kindle version of a DK guidebook to Andalucia (£) and a couple of books I had been wanting to read.
There is something comforting about being read a story. Perhaps it takes us back to our childhood when we were read to. This explains why audiobooks are so popular with many adults. It is a great way to relax as there is no page turning, you can position your self any way you like and there is nothing to hold. Alternatively, you can be as active as you like. With today’s smartphone accessories you can be read to while you hike, bike or jog.
Most smartphones will let you play audio and there are several apps that make downloading and playing a couple of taps away. Audible (£) have one of the largest collection of audiobooks to choose from covering every subject imaginable. You can either buy the audiobooks individually as you want them or you can sign up to their subscription service and download one or more books per month.
There is a Kindle app to read the books on your smartphone or tablet and, if you choose, these can be linked to your Kindle e-reader itself so you will always update all your devices and can read wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
I packed my Kindle in my cabin baggage although I could have used my smartphone on the flight if I wanted. It was so light that it takes up very little of the meagre allowance and I had several books already loaded which would have taken up the full 7kg allowed by Ryanair at the time.
Reading my chosen book on the Kindle was easier than reading the book itself. For a start, I was not fighting to hold back the pages that seemed intent on closing if I did not use both hands to restrain them. With the Kindle, I could read single-handed and with a slight movement of the thumb turn the page.
When reading a physical book I would often have to manoeuvre to keep the pages in the shade when the sun was shining brightly. With my Kindle I found it was much easier reading in bright sunlight; indeed it performed better the brighter the light. Therein lay a problem. In dim lighting, or with no light at all I found the screen was impossible to see. My Kindle (£) was the basic model and it meant I could not read in the dark. My wife, however, could. What was wrong with mine? Was there some hidden switch I needed to find? Or did I need to go into settings?
The answer was “None of the above”. I needed the backlit Kindle Paperwhite or the new Kindle Oasis. Both have screens that are lit and can be read in low or no light.
Although you do not need WiFi to read you will need it to purchase and download books. There is plenty of storage for a whole library of books.
My Kindle (£) is my ‘go to’ reading device now when I travel. No more lugging books around when I am off on a trip.
If you like listening to someone else read to you then Audible (£) is the way to go. I am not one for listening to books (my wife is though) but I do like to listen when I am driving long distance on my own. Most modern cars can connect, by Bluetooth or cable, to your smartphone and play through the in-car entertainment system. Earphones and headphones is not a good idea as it cuts out noise around you and can, therefore, be a safety issue. In some countries driving with them on is illegal.
On the later models of Kindle, you can now listen to Audible books with Bluetooth connected headphones. With a smartphone with the Kindle and Audible app, you can read or listen. So one device does it all.
Does this sound the death knell for physical books? I doubt it. The demise of books has been predicted for years and they are still around. I still prefer a physical book but circumstances dictate that I use digital books more and more.
Disclosure notice: Many of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means I get a small payment should you click on the link and subsequently make a purchase. This is at no extra cost to you. These links are identified by the “£” sign in brackets (£) after the link. I do not recommend anything I am not happy with myself.