Summer Reading at the Beach

A recent post on Facebook got me thinking about the practicality of eReaders vs. printed paper books. Both publishing mediums have their place. One can only hope that, at least for the near future, both electronic editions and print editions survive.

The question being asked was whether or not to take an eReader to the beach. I have to say that if your eReader is an iPad, the answer is probably an emphatic, “No.” Who would want to risk sand and water damage to a $500 device? Not I! Even worse, the iPad screen is a miserable performer under high light conditions, even with a glare filtering screen.

I might opt to carry a Nook with me. At $149, I have less concern about damage. Especially at a time when a first edition hard cover book is going to set you back $25 and will almost certainly incur sun, water and/or sand damage at the beach.

A decent protective cover should keep your Nook relatively safe. And I like the idea of having more than one book at hand, because I’m not always sure what I’ll be in the mood to read and the Nook can also offer me the latest news and magazines (though it should be pointed out that if you’re on the beach, a pricier 3G model might be more appropriate for such connectivity).

I haven’t tried a Kindle or Nook in bright sun, but I understand they fare pretty well under bright light conditions. Of course, even a paperback can be tough to read under the brightest conditions. Then again, a used paperback can be picked up for under a buck and makes a perfect beach companion. And you just might not WANT to be too connected while you’re on vacation.

But what is theoretically the best choice doesn’t always end up being the best choice in practice. Here’s where I actually ended up: I have all my books for my next class that starts in August on my iPad. I saved about $25 on the electronic editions, and I can highlight and make notes to my heart’s content. And I can carry all of my books on that little device, which will be great when classes begin and I don’t have to lug six books to every class.

Stephen Beals is a veteran prepress manager with some 30 years of experience in the commercial print business. He has written hundreds of articles for dozens of publications and owns the website "Printoolz" for software for print and multimedia production. Stephen also founded his own murder mystery dinner theatre troupe and is a Presbyterian pastor.