Weekly writing challenge: Mind the gap – ereader or paper?

Bookstore Bounty

Bookstore Bounty

The WordPress challenge this week for writing is a discussion on ereaders vs “real” paper books.  Where this is a travel blog, I’m going to take a little different slant on it and gear it to travel resources. I do love my ereader, by the way and now read 95% or more of my books electronically.

When I go on a trip, I have a folder for things like ticket confirmations, printed pages of Google maps, reservations, etc. I also bring guide books and sometimes full size maps. In this electronic age, most of this is available electronically and you can get a lot of apps for smart phones, laptops and tablets as well. It only makes sense that taking a small electronic device instead of paper and books would take up far less room and weight.

I don’t have a smart phone or a tablet though I do have an iPod touch and a small laptop now. I still take the folder with itineraries and ticket/hotel confirmations printed out but I’m trying to bring guidebooks that are electronic. I used a city app for the iPod touch for Copenhagen and for Rome though didn’t find it overly helpful. My iPod is older now and many of the new apps I’ve tried to download won’t work on it. My other issue is that the screen is quite small. I imagine if I had a tablet, it would be far more efficient to use these apps and mapps.

But on the other hand, it’s more difficult to flip through a book electronically to find something than it is if it’s a paper book. I know they both have tables of contents and some of the ebooks may have an index which can take you to the page but I think it’s still easier to hand-flip the pages to find what you were looking for, or even put a sticky note on the exact location. You can’ t do that electronically.

I can carry things on my laptop for reference and that helps. I can check it in the hotel room prior to going out for the day. But you don’t generally carry that around with you all day. I have created eDocuments and put them on my eReader (itinerary, phone numbers, document of a list of bus numbers and destinations which is also useful) but overall, I’m still kind of betwixt and between the old and new.

I opted for a laptop over a tablet because i wanted to be able to upload my photos and type up my travelogues daily while on a trip, in addition to web surfing and email etc. to keep in touch with people. I’m glad went that route but I do realize for things like the guide books and maps, a tablet might work much better as far as readability for the colourful books and maps. But let’s not forget, using on-the-spot maps via an app  will cost you if you don’t have a free wifi connection. Then you have roaming charges or you’re paying for a 3 or 4G connection. Paper books and maps are free to use anywhere!

So what’s the best way? Electronic or paper? For me, it’s a combination of the two. As much as I love my ereader for reading, I do love to browse through the shiny pages of a guide book. Since I don’t have a smartphone, itinerary and reservation confirmations need to be printed. The pdf documents for these can be loaded electronically for backup on the laptop or cloud drive.

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