I went on a trip to Disneyland, and for the first time experienced the joys of not having to lug around a stack of paperbacks and hardbacks in my backpack. I just got an e-reader (a Nook) and had a wonderful time exploring the Project Gutenberg website, whose mission is to provide to readers free access to classic books and reference works in the public domain (though donations are encouraged).
I was able to download electronic versions of books such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TREASURE ISLAND, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, EMMA, and several other classics.
If you’ve ever lugged around a hardback version of THE COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, you know what a pain it is to the back and wrists. Being able to carry Shakespeare around in a feather light electronic device was a joy. Plus, when we got stuck in the airport due to flight delays from all the snow back east, I had enough old classics written for kids on the Nook to keep my son entertained for hours.
I’ve heard people talk about how they’ll never get an e-reader because they love the smell of paper, but I think one can have fun owning both paper and electronic books. Each format serves best in certain situations. When stuck in an airport, an electronic reader is an amazing tool for people who love to read and who want to share that love with their children.
I also encourage writers who are doing research to check out the non-fiction collections that Project Gutenberg has put together. I’ve found some wonderful out-of-print reference books from the 19th century to download to read in preparation for doing various writing projects.
Project Gutenberg provides their electronic files in various formats (ePUB, Kindle, rtf, html, and txt).