Reading: e-readers, hard copy and beta-reads

I’ve been thinking recently about the different ways that I read, and the different methods I use.

I’ve recently got the Kindle app on my phone. I’ve always resisted getting an e-reader, simply because I think I won’t carry it around; if I do, I’ll take a book! But I definitely use the Kindle app on my phone – mostly to trial books and read new authors. There are two major pluses to the Kindle app for me. The first is the portability; if I’m sitting somewhere, I can read without having had to put a book into my bag (although I do usually have one). Trialling new books is also a major plus for me – I can spend half to one-third of the price of a hard copy, and get to read it to see if I like it. I get through far more books and authors than I otherwise would, and I’m far more willing to experiment.

One argument I’ve heard against the e-readers is the death of hard copy books. However, for me, it’s a huge bonus; I then buy whatever books I loved in hard copy to keep and re-read! I’ve currently got The Sleeper & the Spindle, Songs of Seraphina, Cruelty, and The Reluctant Prophet on my to-buy list; I’m also going to get Spark & Carousel at BristolCon, so yay! So in my case, it’s opened my reading list up to a whole load of things that I might not otherwise have tried, or I would have tried half of. It also means I’m giving the authors money regardless; admittedly it’s not as much as a paperback copy, but then I’m giving less money to more authors…I think it works out, particularly as it means I’m potentially exposed to far more authors that I’m going to love.

If I know I’ll enjoy a series then I usually get hard copy immediately; I’m trying to catch up with the Dresden Files before the next one comes out so I can buy it! However, I’m lucky that I can often steal the newest book in a series, and because I read fast it isn’t much of an issue to ‘lend’ it to me. When Skin Games came out I flopped onto Jay’s sofa for three hours and read it cover to cover, much to his amusement and slight chagrin, and I remember borrowing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in school and reading that in an afternoon. So I can usually overcome the disadvantages of not wanting to buy hardback – although I did switch to hardbacks of Terry Pratchett at The Truth, but that was more because there were three people in the family who wanted to read it and there was no way we were waiting for the paperback!

The one disadvantage of Kindle is that I can’t beta-read on it. The files sometimes won’t transfer to Kindle and it’s often not appropriate for beta-reading, particularly if I’m making notes, so I usually beta-read on my PC. I know some people who like to beta-read on paper or on their e-reader, as it does change your mindset of a book from something you can edit to something you have to read…I have got hard copies of my books in the past at the beta stage, but they were mostly for other people (eg. my husband, friends, people who do prefer to read in hard copy).

So, personal preference; e-reader to trial, paperback if I love it, and screen if I’m beta-ing!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.