In the one-room log cabin where he grew up, Abraham Lincoln is said to have read libraries’ worth of books using only the light of candles to guide him. If only he’d had reading lamps or e-readers available in the 19th century, he could have really accomplished something with his life, don’t you think?
Reading lamps are useful — for instance, when you’re trying to read books on your side of the bed while your partner sleeps — but e-readers combine the two into an easy, illuminated package designed to be lightweight and easy on the eyes. They emit just enough light to make your reading material visible without casting an overpowering glow over the entire room (which can irritate others who might be trying to sleep or watch television next to you without the intrusion of glare).
There are some other reasons you might consider replacing your reading lamps with e-readers, though it’s admittedly not an easy thing to do when a big part of the overall experience for you may involve the tactile satisfaction or even the smell of a freshly cracked book. Still, when you’ve got to do your reading in a place where you’re otherwise surrounded by darkness, e-readers — in my opinion — beat out reading lamps every time.
Also, I know people who see floaters in their vision at all times; being able to set white text on a black background to minimize their effect — as you can with e-readers — is something you just can’t do with the old reading lamps and paper books combination.
But how can you painlessly make such a switch? I think taking a few logical steps toward the goal of replacing reading lamps with e-readers rather than just trying to quit them (and paper books) cold turkey may serve you well. Here’s my process.
Replacing Reading Lamps with E-Readers Step One: Borrow an E-Reader from a Friend or Library
Knowing someone with an e-reader who trusts you enough to lend it your way for a while is helpful, but even libraries are getting hip enough to the growing popularity of e-readers that you may be able to check one out at your local branch. The point here is that you should be able to give yourself a break from reading lamps in favor of trying out e-readers without spending a dime. This will introduce you to the concept, at least, and help you discover whether or not it’s a viable option for you. If you can overcome your need for the physical page and replace it with the virtual, then you might be a candidate for moving on to step two.
Replacing Reading Lamps with E-Readers Step Two: Try Reading a Favorite Book
Diving into the world of e-readers headfirst with unfamiliar content may be a shock to the system, so why not rely on an old friend to help with the attempted transition? Reading an old, favorite classic may help your brain associate this potentially jarring experience as something positive. Plus, there’s just something about enjoying Charles Dickens on a post-Industrial Revolution machine that makes my inner geek smile. (Right alongside my outer, more visible geek, of course).
Replacing Reading Lamps with E-Readers Step Three: Take Frequent Breaks
During step two, just don’t get so engrossed in your favorites that you become a victim of eye strain — remember that this can happen with real books, too, so don’t count it as a black mark against e-readers in general! Just as your optometrist will tell you about your computer: take a break every once in a while! Actually, “once in a while” may be too vague of a recommendation, so try this. If you’ve got a smart phone (which seems to put you into the majority these days), it most likely has a timer feature along with its other clocky bits.
Just as you would when hard-boiling an egg or baking a sheet of cookies, set the timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off, the American Optometric Association recommends that you “blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes.” Even getting up and stretching, and maybe even walking around a little, can help alleviate your body’s overall level of fatigue. Make sure to have a look into the distance while you’re doing so, too, so that your eyes don’t get too used to only seeing things — like e-readers, computer monitors, smart phone screens, and book pages — up close.
Replacing Reading Lamps with E-Readers Step Four: Buy Your First E-Reader
If you’ve bothered to make it here, to step four, then you may very well be ready to make an investment in your very own e-reader. This will make the person who’s been lending you their e-reader happy, or if your library’s been charging you any kind of fee for the loan of its e-reader, then you’ll be happier, too.
If you’re considering the purchase of an iPad, a Nexus, or any other tablet device to perform double duty as a computer and an e-reader to replace your reading lamps and paper books, I’d say you’ve made a wise choice. However, if you really just want something simple, lightweight, and inexpensive enough to take with you everywhere without the worry of accidental breakage, absent-minded loss, or opportunistic thievery when your back is turned at the coffee shop, then a dedicated e-reader device like the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite might be right up your alley.
Where do you stand in the reading lamps and paper books vs. e-readers debate? Are you able to switch between the two options without a problem, or have you embraced one in complete favor of the other, never to look back? Drop us a line below and let us know!