By Heather Holditch
Only once have I seen someone read a Kobo — or any other digital reader— on the bus. Granted, that was a few months ago, and now that Chapters is selling digital readers in store they might become more popular, however, digital readers have always struck me as a little strange.
The benefits of the digital reader are obvious: they can store up to 1000 books in one little device. It is ideal for travelling if you plan on bringing more than one book with you on vacation and if you can justify the cost (anywhere from $149 for a Kobo to $500+ for an iPad).
But when it comes to commuting, unless you are a student whose textbooks are available as ebooks — which at this point is still rare — I don’t feel the digital reader really makes much of a difference. After all, if you have time to read 1000 books on your commute, you should seriously rethink your job. Also, if someone is going to own more than a 1000 books, it is safe to say they are book lovers in that they love to read books for more than the literary value. The aesthetic quality of books is as appealing to these people as the pleasure derived from the content, in which case, you have to ask whether or not book lovers would want to buy digital readers at all.
Marketing the digital reader to the book lover is strange. Book lovers may buy the digital reader for the convenience, but I don’t think they will ever outright replace their books with a digital reader. Magazines are already so disposable that a magazine on a digital reader seems absolutely unnecessary unless it is a free download. The difference would only be a couple of dollars at most.
As far as I am concerned, digital readers are a techie’s delight, but not a realistic substitute for the commuter.
This Week’s Commuter’s Choice: The Walrus
Canada’s general interest magazine, The Walrus, is a fantastic magazine choice with something for everyone from politics to the arts. The Walrus is one of Canada’s only magazines that is available as a download for either your computer or an iPad (http://store.apple.com/ca/browse/home/shop_ipad/family/ipad). This, however, comes down to a preference of digital over paper because the subscription price and single issue price for both formats are the same.