In the brave new tech-savvy grey nomadding world, could our caravans and motorhomes be about to be have a huge weight lifted from their axles … courtesy of the (at least partial) demise of the traditional book?
Certainly, there are many long-term travellers who now swear by the digital e-book reader which allows numerous books and periodicals to be electronically stored and read. Today’s devices use e-paper technology which gives them excellent screen readability – particularly in bright sunlight – and a long battery life. Unlike a tablet computer, an e-reader is dedicated solely to reading and viewing files, although some may also play MP3s.
The truth is that for grey nomads who, in general, have the time and the inclination to read a lot and who are very bulk and weight aware, the e-reader is a potentially invaluable piece of kit. Many e-readers weigh less than 300g – lighter than the average paperback book.
Internal memory capacities are typically 2GB – enough for perhaps 1500 books. Most e-readers will also support some sort of SD memory cards, boosting storage up to 32Gb or so. And, of course, you can have as many SD cards you like, enabling you to travel the country for decades without ever running out of reading material.
Although Australian availability of e-books is generally lower than in the UK or US, the selection is still very good. Angus & Robertson, for example, claims to have more than 15 million e-books. You need to be aware that if you try to buy some e-books on overseas websites you may find they are ‘region-locked’ and therefore unavailable.
With no need for ink, paper or shipping, it would be easy to think that another big advantage of e-book reading would be its relative affordability.
E-books though – particularly best-sellers – can cost more than $20, which if you are used to picking your books up from the van park laundry room or second-hand bookshops or the library, is a fair investment. However, most books can be bought far cheaper … often well under $10.
E-book readers themselves aren’t giveaways either. Among the most popular e-book reader models however is the ‘Kindle’, which is available for under $100. Devices such as Sony’s Reader Wifi Touch or the Kobo Touch both cost a little under $200. They weigh less than 200g, come with a 6” touchscreen and have wi-fi so you can buy e-books wherever you are.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The key features to look for are memory size, which file format is supported, screen size, weight, battery life, and ease of page navigation.