To E-Read or Not to E-Read, That Is the Question

My friend Mandy and I debate the whole e-reader conundrum. We both love books, but we love the feel of paper, the smell of ink, the pleasure of turning a page, the joy of the bookstore. Could we possibly cozy up to an e-reader and feel as good about it as we do the bundle of possibility that is a traditional book?

I can see some of the e-reader’s merits, chief of which for me would be not having to allocate at least a fifth of my luggage weight on any trip to books. And it probably would decrease the number of times my suitcase gets searched at the airport because the word-bricks inside look odd to the scanners. It might mean I wouldn’t be paying to mail books home that I discovered in some far-flung used bookstore and couldn’t pass up. But then does that deny me the pleasure of browsing said stores for treasures or browsing the books themselves for a kindred spirit, be it character or author?

I can’t bring myself to buy an e-reader. It just feels disloyal somehow.

But now I may have found a reason to buy one for someone else. has established as its mission to distribute e-readers to students in the emerging world. They want to distribute digital books and readers to schoolchildren and community members to allow them access to textbooks and reading material at a reduced cost. They desire to work as well with local publishers to help expand access to culturally appropriate material, encouraging the transmission and expansion of community knowledge.

The program is new, with the pilot study taking place at six schools in Ghana and an expansion throughout Ghana and into Kenya in the works. Studies are being conducted to gauge if the e-readers provide an increase in books read by the children. Watch the video to see how teachers feel about the new technology.

You can donate a book for $5 (sorry, you can’t choose the book, like, for instance, the one you wrote) or an e-reader for $200. If your Valentine loves books, you can honor him or her through a gift donation. It might be the perfect way to celebrate your love, showing you recognize what is important to your sweetheart. It’s a great opportunity to express your love for your own kids without rotting their teeth with candy hearts.

An e-reader for me isn’t on my list any time soon (at the very least I will wait for the industry to shake out the losers from the winners), but the idea of underprivileged kids having a library at their fingertips has great appeal. And I can still curl up on the couch with my old-fashioned paper book. What about you?


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