Friday, March 1, 2013

eBook or Real Book?

I have recently bought a kindle and really like having a large library of books to read for such a small amount of weight. It is a kindle fire so I can also use it for reading email and browsing.

When I was traveling for an extended period I had times where I had 4 or 5 guide books with me and that adds a lot of weight to the backpack. I thought that the kindle would be great and would solve this issue for me. For my recent trip to Nice I bought a LP guide book for France and hated it.

I found it really difficult to find things when I was looking for them. Even when using the search function. If the word had an accent in it the search would not find it when I typed in the word without the accent. I could bookmark the sections I wanted when I found them but the bookmark did not always seem to return me to the specific page I bookmarked but the top of the section so at times I would think there was nothing on this page that I was interested in. I also just preferred a piece of paper in a real book.

I was concerned about the maps but this was one of the things that did not bug me at all. The map was click-able and then it could be zoomed so it worked out well. It was difficult to flip back and forth between the map and another section but I think I could live with this.

There were a couple of the diagrams of a site that were not click-able and the font was too small for me to read which was a bit disappointing but am sure this could be easily fixed.

Guide books are not cheap and at times they cost me as much as my budget for 1 day in parts of Southeast Asia. I still feel they are worth the investment and I personally don't like to travel without a good guide book. I just don't feel I own the ebooks. When I was traveling I swapped, sold and gave away guide books. As far as I can tell this is not possible with the ebooks. I could buy the pdf version of the guide book and this would resolve it but the pdf version seems to have other issues. I tried a pdf version when I first got my kindle when I was in Hungary but also did not really like it.

I am only writing this post because I was only able to find one negative review of electronic guide books. I feel I and this one other person can not be the only people to feel there is still a lot of benefit to having real paper books for travel. I also would like to know if others hated the e-versions and first and have been won over or other constrictive feedback.

I am sure the kindle is now a permanent item in my backpack but have not sure if it will be used for guidebooks. I am currently considering buying one large multi-country electronic books from one guide book company and then buying the specific country books in the paper version from a different company. I will need to do a bit of research to even see if this might work.

I am really interested in finding out others experiences so leave me a comment.


  1. I am a new kindle convert too Keith. I love books, I love the look of them in shelves, the feel of the paper, the smell of them! But...moving around so much and having a freight allowance - most of my books stayed home and I bought cheap ones that I would not feel too sad if I had to give away when moving. Now I have my kindle and access to so many books without the worry of them weighing too much or needing to be left behind.

  2. Keith, I too recently bought an android tablet and it made its debut on our last trip. Agreed, actual books can add too much weight to our 'carry on only' luggage, so I'm wrapped that I can take maps, books, travel guides, movies and games with me, very lightly!