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13th July
written by Steph
Yes, we’re FINALLY back from our grand tour of lovely Puerto Rico! But it will take us a few days to get all our pictures in order and get some posts prepped documenting our trip, so bear with us while we catch up on bookish things in the meantime. I promise pictures and a run-down of our wonderful trip are coming! But in the interim, I thought I’d kick things off with a little warm-up post to help me ease back into this blogging thing. Whenever people start talking about how publishing is a dying industry and paper books are going the way of the dodo, I always wonder how often these people travel. Because as much as people have laptops and ipods and similar electronic devices on planes when they travel, I never see more people reading actual books (and magazines, and newspapers) than when I’m at an airport or on a plane.

No electronic devices...

Even the advent of e-readers seem less threatening to those who cling faithfully to books printed on paper. Why? Because unlike e-readers, you’re never going to get nagged to turn a paperback off until you reach an altitude 10,000 feet… That’s what happened to me yesterday on our flight into Atlanta. I won’t get into arguments as to why I think it’s an inane rule to make people turn things like ipods and ereaders off during take-off and landing (Tony & I already had a rather heated argument about this yesterday), but I will say that as an avid reader, I hate having to sit around for 10 minutes or so without being able to read. Tony thinks it’s no big deal, but let’s just say that getting between me and whatever I’m reading generally does not make for a happy Steph. One of the greatest perks attributed to e-readers is their portability for things like traveling. Slim and compact yet with sizable library space, they eliminate the worry of never having reading material on hand as well as the inconvenience of clunky, heavy books that can take up much needed space in your carry-on bags. That said, for people who are avid readers, does having mandatory reading-free time on flights somewhat lessen the e-reader’s appeal when it comes to traveling? For me, it definitely did. I kept glancing around jealously at all those people with version 1.0 books who could happily read without worry that they might be forced to stop reading mid-sentence or at a critical juncture because the plane was preparing to land. I read to escape and to help pass the time, and I sitting around for 20 – 25 minutes during a flight twiddling my thumbs is pretty unsatisfactory. So I ask all my fellow readers and travelers, where do you fall on this issue? Does your love for your e-reader outweigh a little downtime on flights? Or do you always have a paperback book with you for just such an instance? I’m also curious to know how many people have flown with e-readers and whether you have in fact been asked to turn your reader off at any point during the flight (whether it be a Kindle, a Nook, a Sony, or some other beast) or whether you've been able to read uninterrupted as soon as you've settled into your cramped little seat. Please weigh in and share your experiences!


  1. 07/13/2010

    I don’t travel much, but my husband recently went on a business trip for a week and brought the Kindle along. He also was very displeased that he had to turn it off during parts of the flight, and because he didn’t bring any paper books, he was sort of S.O.L. when it came to reading for awhile. I can imagine that if I was flying, I would have to bring a paper backup, just because of this issue. I think it’s a little ridiculous that they make you turn off e-readers, especially if you are not even using the wireless. I think sometimes these rules can be a little arbitrary.

  2. Perl Numquist

    I had an iPaq (HPs version of a Blackberry) and it has quite a lot of storage space. I kept on it many textual copies of great classics which I got from the project Gutenberg. Marvellous resource.
    A while ago, I found myself in a hotel having read my book due to a common flight delay and decided to read Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother” that my son had sent me.
    Now this is a “book” which has been produced under creative commons and it felt somehow fillting to read it on an electronic device. But, oh what a drag! I know this is not the ideal device toread upon and many purpose built gizmos are available that are suited perfectly. But when I get to a bit which I want to remember, I use one of those little post it stickies which is transparent, to mark the spot where wisdom may be found. My thumb goes straight to it in milliseconds.
    I travel a lot. And books are bulky. Though a technophile, i find the comfort of holding the paperback something I can’t see myself leaving behind.
    Now I am off to throw my sandal in in the escalator.

  3. Welcome back!

    I haven’t got an ereader, but what would worry me more than turning it off at the beginning/end of a flight would be running out of batteries. Book never let you down – you can drop them and spill your coffee on them and they’d still be readable. I’m sticking with the real thing for now!

  4. I hope you had a wonderful time!

    Eek – I have to have something to read for the entire flight (even if I’m watching an in-flight movie, it’s great to have the option); I’d be driven mad if I couldn’t read during take-off and landing. Another reason why I won’t be trading in version 1.0 any time soon (although your positives appeal).

  5. 07/13/2010

    @ zibilee: For me the paper-book backup is kind of problematic simply because I’m one of those monogamous readers who only likes to read one book at a time. But I may grab a magazine the next time I’m traveling, so that I have SOMETHING to read! I’ve been known to read the in-flight safety card just to get my reading fix!
    And don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of having to turn off things that don’t even have radio/wi-fi signals… I mean, let’s put it this way: if using an ipod can cause us to crash the plane, then I don’t actually want to take planes anymore…
    @ Perl: I will say that the fantastic thing about the Sony readers we have is that it’s very easy to bookmark pages (and highlight passages as well), so labeling and finding favourite parts that inspire and provoke is a snap. I know this isn’t true for all devices, especially those for which reading apps are more of an afterthought, but that’s not been a problem with our devices. I have actually found myself doing more highlighting and bookmarking with my e-books simply because it’s so reversible and I don’t have to worry about ruining my book!
    But you know, I have a ton of pulp & glue books that I still have to read, so for me it’s never going to really be an issue of one or the other, but rather the way the two can provide an enhanced experience!
    @ Jackie: I have to say, our Sony readers are fantastic when it comes to batteries. I easily read for 4 hours yesterday and still had 75% of my battery by the end of it all (and had been reading for a few days before hand, so it wasn’t even fully charged heading on the plane). Of course I agree one can be more laissez faire with books – I took my e-reader to the beach, but I was far more worried about it than I would have been with a paperback.
    @ Claire: I find take-offs so stultifying since you’re sitting there doing nothing, and it’s so much nicer to just lose yourself in a book! I mean, my default on flights is to either get to reading, or to try to fall asleep as quickly as possible so that the time goes faster!
    And yes, we did have a wonderful time! 😀 More to come on that soon!

  6. Kathleen

    Welcome back from your trip! I take my Kindle with me when I fly anywhere. But I’m like you and can’t stand to be without reading material during the FCC regulated time to have electronic devices turned off so I always bring some magazines or a newspaper to read during that time.

  7. Kuehn side of the family

    Last time I flew was close to forty years ago. I just talked to the other passengers. Quite an old fashioned idea, but not obsolete?

  8. 07/14/2010

    First of all, welcome back!

    The downtime would definitely bother me too. I guess I could also carry a 1.0 book to read when that happened, but what if I was really loving what I was reading on my e-reader and didn’t feel like reading something else? What you said in your comment to Jackie about worrying about it at places like the beach is also a problem. You can just leave a paperback over your towel and it’s unlikely someone will take it. An e-reader, yeah, not so much.

  9. 07/14/2010

    That’s really crappy about having to turn them off. I am with you Steph–even just ten minutes is torture if you’re sitting on a plane not reading. I would either have magazines or a “real” book to read during the down time.

  10. 07/14/2010

    @ Kathleen: I used to always use flights as an excuse to buy trashy magazines but after several years of not flying, I got out of the habit… I might have to reinstate it though!
    @ the Kuehns: No, certainly not obsolete to talk to fellow passengers, but it doesn’t always work out (especially if your plane isn’t full)… I guess I could just talk to Tony, but who wants to do that? 😉
    @ Nymeth: Yeah, I don’t like to switch between reading material very much as I’m a monogamous reader, so I wouldn’t want to have two novels on the go… but I guess I could have a magazine or something like that (sometimes I do the Sudoku in the in-flight magazine, though that’s a pain when you can’t use the folding tray). And we were lucky because the beaches we visited in Puerto Rico were pretty much always abandoned (pure bliss), but on a more populous beach, I’d definitely be worried about the security of my e-reader.
    @ Stephanie: The thing is, I probably don’t read for entire flights anyway, but as soon as I’m told I CAN’T read? Well, then it’s all I want to do! But I’m contrary like that… 😉

  11. mee

    Welcome back Steph! Oh I’m surprised you need to turn off non-signal electronic device. My iPhone has a “Flight Mode” and it should be safe to be turned on during take off and landing so I didn’t need to turn it off (at the last couple of flights I was in). Maybe it’s stricter up there. I’d be mad if I can’t read during landing. That’s the longest 10-15 minutes ever! I really hate how it always takes them so long to land! I’m with Jackie and worried more about running out of battery more than anything. Especially on holiday, what with the extra cables, and the charger, and different plugs at different country. argh.

  12. 07/14/2010

    “but I will say that as an avid reader, I hate having to sit around for 10 minutes or so without being able to read.”

    I would go as far to say that sometimes I cannot stand being in the company of people for more than a few hours without having a craving to be with my books.

    About e-reader. First of all, I love the physical attributes of a book: the texture of the page, the smell of ink, and being able to hold it in my hands. As airlines incline to introduce more outrageous fees, I have to re-consider the option for a portable, hand-held reading device that would make room for other travel accessories. I’m about to drink the cool-aid but I cannot decide between iPad and Kindle. I like the user-friendly iPad (apple products) but that the iPad cannot run multiple applications now turns me off from getting one.

  13. 07/15/2010

    @ mee: It may just be that in North America they are more stringent about safety precautions… no idea. I just know that they make you turn anything with an “on/off” switch to “off” during takeoff and landing. Total bummer.
    Didn’t find portability of the Sonys bad at all on this trip, and on a 9-day getaway, we only had to charge them once. Not bad!
    @ Matt: I’m not bothered about my Sony ereader only being an ereader (it doesn’t do anything else) because that’s exactly what I wanted. When I travel, I always have my laptop anyway, because I’m not going to write blog posts and things for school on a touch screen keyboard. Also, the battery life is phenomenal and portability is great… iPad can be kind of heavy and I wonder about the ease with which one could read on it at the beach! You might be interested in the post Tony & I recently wrote in which we discuss our experiences with e-readers! It may give you some food for thought.

  14. Welcome back! That is annoying. When I decided to get an ereader for travel, I didn’t think about that situation on a plane. I wonder why that is? And I also hate sitting around for even 10 minutes without something to read.

  15. 07/15/2010

    First and foremost, I can’t wait for pictures!!

    Secondly, welcome back! (yes I know that probably sounds out of order…)

    Third, I actually don’t like ereaders. Every time I’ve read a book on one, I haven’t been able to focus and afterwards barely remembered what I read. Something about not having the ability to see the physical progress in the book, I suppose. I thought I would love it but sadly did not. 🙁

  16. 07/16/2010

    @ Kim: Yeah, it’s definitely a pain, and I kind of hope that as more people use e-readers that airlines potentially change their policy. It’s especially annoying with the Sony since it doesn’t even have wi-fi capabilities!
    @ Amanda: Fear not! Pictures are on their way… We’re going to do a series of posts and I believe the first one will go up tomorrow! So get ready! 😀
    I didn’t think I’d like reading on an e-reader as much as I have, but I’ve actually found it very similar to reading a physical book for the most part. And I actually like how easy it is for me to just bookmark any thing I like and highlight with impunity, so in that sense, I might actually engage slightly more with an e-book! So far no retention issues, but of course, nothing beats a physical book!

  17. 07/17/2010

    Welcome back! Although I’m sure it was heard to tear yourself away from Puerto Rico, haha.

    Re your question: I shouldn’t be in this discussion since I don’t have an e-reader, haha, but I’d just want to say that, like you, if I’m waiting [and I hate waiting], it better be with a book in hand. I bring a book everywhere. Even when I sometimes feel that I won’t get to read it. I dunno, I just feel naked and panicky without a book at hand. PLUS, if I’m itching to read something, and there’s no book in my bag, I tend to scour wherever I am for a book. Not good for the TBR Land Mass.

  18. 07/18/2010

    @ Sasha: Yes, the last time I splurged a bought a book it was at the airport right after Christmas, because I finished my book on my first flight and needed something else to read on the second. I must say, with my eReader, I was able to finish one and then happily jump right into another, and that was quite lovely!

  19. […] Steph and Tony (Steph & Tony Investigate) got back from Puerto Rico, and Steph wrote some thoughts about on traveling with her ereader. […]

  20. 07/19/2010

    I hate that we have to turn off electronics. Is my handheld really going to crash the plane?!?!

  21. 07/19/2010

    Steph, I am also like you. I prefer to read one book at a time. I am not very sure about e-readers to read Gutenberg classics, would be more difficult to focus, I would think.

    I do like to read children’s classics or such books, where the reading is pleasant, but I am not forced to quit reading at any crucial plot moments.

  22. 07/19/2010

    @ Rebecca: This is what I’m saying – if my ipod is going to crash the plane, then I think we all need to re-evaluate flying as a safe mode of transportation.
    @ Nishita: I’ve read a variety of things on my eReader thus far, more modern lit to be sure, but that just tends to be my preference. But I have read some Classics, and I actually didn’t find it too hard to focus. But reading on planes I don’t generally want anything that will be too demanding because I don’t find them the ideal environment for reading.

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