I'm a cheater. And I don't feel bad about it anymore.
I've always been a voracious book lover but now I'm sneaking behind the hardback's "back" and finding a far better lover in e-books.
Print book purists will probably snort and say e-books are for people who choose sausage over fillet steak. Then give me sausage I say.
For years I resisted reading new release novels in e-book format. I lectured my book club friends to "stay true to the printed page!" I always delighted (and still do) in getting lost in an eclectic bookshop. I'd buy a new book, find romance in its glossy cover and smooth pages, then snuggle under the duvet with it. But that's all changed now.
I'm happily cheating on the books on my bedside table waiting to be read, now lying neglected and gathering dust. E-book versions aren't as aesthetically appealing as print books but, for me, this is a practical relationship. E-books are many great things but mostly cost effective. They also provide me instant gratification with its addictive download-as-many-books-at-once-as-you-like function.
I still love perusing bookshops. But now I just tease the shelves, flirting with their new releases then dropping them like hot potatoes to race home and buy the cheaper, online versions.
Research suggests e-books can be bad for you. Reading them before bedtime makes it harder to get to sleep, say experts. Something to do with your device's screen light. Another study suggests e-books might make you dumb. Really? One theory is e-readers don't digest a story's text as well as those who read the same story in print.
In spite of the threat to my IQ and sleep quota, I've shed all guilt of cheating on print books. I'm afraid that e-books are here to stay and I suspect eventually a large number of us will also ditch print in favour of e-books. Here's why I've converted:
1. You can read your book in bed with the lights out. Which means no disturbing your partner, or the cat.
2. You can pretend to be doing office work at your desk with the iPad, but you're actually reading an e-book.
3. You can jam as many "books" onto your iPad/e-reader to take on holiday without weighing down your suitcase, like paperbacks do.
4. No fussing with trying keep your pages open while your other hand is required for drinking coffee, eating a sandwich, scratching your nose or whatever.
5. You can save money. Ok, so a library or borrowed book is free. But if you want your book instantly you can have it and often at a much cheaper price than buying from a bookshop.
6. You won't be left hanging with waiting lists at the library for the latest new release.
7. Research suggests reading e-books before bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep, because of the screen's light. A minor inconvenience, really. Who needs sleep when you're in the grip of a bloody good book?
8. Lost your bookmark? Your child has torn it again? No worries. Your iPad has a nifty little built-in bookmark which won't fall out or get eaten by toddlers.
9. Want to google something in relation to the book you're reading? If you're lazy, like me, you'll love being able to just switch to a quick google search on your iPad, then click right back into your book. All without having to move off the couch.
10. Embarrassed about your choice of book? Your fellow train passengers can't catch you out reading Fifty Shades of Grey if you're reading it on an iPad.
11. For book club you can simply highlight a passage or word by tapping on it, if you want to refer back to it during your club discussion. So much easier than fiddling around with bits of paper or post-it notes.
12. Try before your buy. I love that you can sample a book through iBooks before you purchase. No more loitering at the bookshop quickly skimming the first chapter of a book, as your toddler loudly whinges in your ear to leave.