Sarah Morrison is an information professional based in Toronto, Ontario. Her posts explore the intersections of technology, knowledge, feminism, social justice, and fandom.

Sarah's E-reading Checklist

Sarah's E-reading Checklist

With all my talk of the joys of e-reading, I figured I should put my money where my mouth is and talk about how you can know if e-reading is for you. Much like listening to audiobooks, e-reading doesn’t fit everyone’s style and needs. I’ve found, however, that a lot of people don’t realize the different options available to them in the world of e-reading. Based on my time with a major bookstore chain and my own experiences, here are some things you can ask yourself to see if e-reading is something that might be worth a try for you.


Do you read a lot of different books a lot, read quickly and take long journeys, or like having a lot of choice at your fingertips?

If so, e-reading might be worth a look. I fit firmly in this category – I’m always reading a whole bunch of books at a time, I read super-fast and I commute, and I like to be able to switch books if I feel like it. Having a hundred books loaded onto my tablet gives me the freedom to change it up, and means I won’t be stuck without a book if I finish one on the train. 

Does your library have a robust e-book selection?

Take a peek at your local library selection and see what they’ve got! My local library, the Hamilton Public Library, has a great e-book collection, including books that they don’t have in print. I can download them as either Adobe Digital Editions epubs or through OverDrive, and it allows me to use more of the whole collection.

Do you have trouble holding physical books?

My Mom is in this boat. She has rheumatoid arthritis, and hardcover books are really hard for her to hold. Sometimes it gets so that mass market paperbacks are too much. Getting an e-reader has helped her immensely as it’s lighter and her hands don’t have to fight against keeping the spine open.

Do you have vision issues or restrictions?

When I was working for the major bookseller, we’d often encounter people for whom large print books were still too small for them to read. For some of these people, e-reading was a huge discovery! I remember one woman who maxed out the magnification on her e-reader. There were about 2 words on each page, but for the first time in a long time, she was actually able to read a book. Even if you don’t have major vision problems, it is nice to be able to just increase the size a bit when you’re tired. Since I read quickly, I also take advantage of making the print size smaller, so I’m not constantly turning pages!

Does looking at a LED-type screen for long periods of time bother you? Alternately, are you almost surgically attached to a tablet or mobile device?

For some people, they associate e-reading with a phone or tablet, and they do not want to stare at that kind of screen all day. With more and more jobs involving computer use, that’s something I totally understand. This is why it’s helpful to look at actual dedicated e-reader options. E-ink technology is great because the screen doesn’t have the “computer glare” that gives a lot of people headaches. It’s designed so that it resembles a page as much as possible. 

On the flip side, if you’re already attached at the hip to a device and use it all the time, e-reading can be great because it’s something you can do on a device you have with you already. I’m in this camp – I use my tablet to read almost exclusively now.

Do you like getting a “quick book fix”?

Instant gratification is awesome! Before, I had to go to a bookstore or order online and wait for the book to ship. Don’t get me wrong, those things are still fun – browsing in a bookstore and waiting excitedly for your book to arrive. But it’s nice to find a book you’re interested in and be able to start reading right that second. This is especially helpful for series!

Do you like annotating and highlighting in books?

This is interesting, because some people I know swear by doing this in print books. I find it a lot easier, however, to do this with the built-in highlighting and commenting features in most e-reading software. I don’t have to lug post-its and a pen around with me! The annotations are easy to skim through later, and you can colour code your highlights!

Do you read books with a lot of end notes or references?

I despise print books that use end notes. They are so annoying to have to flip to the back to find. Most e-reading software, however, lets you jump right to the note and then jump right back to where you were. It seems like such a small thing, but it was a huge deal for me as I read mostly academic non-fiction.

Do you like reading and exploring small press authors, self-published authors, or new authors?

This is not universal, but I’ve found that you can gain a wider selection by being open to e-books. There are some small presses that I’ve discovered that publish exclusively in e-book format, and I’ve come across some authors on Amazon that only publish electronically. 


As I’ve always said before, e-reading is not for everyone. Even if you don’t switch over completely, however, e-reading can be a great supplement to your print books (again, much like audiobooks). Ask yourself some honest questions about your habits and what type of books you like to read, and check out your local library to try it out if you’re not sure!

Not All Press is Good Press

Not All Press is Good Press