Back in October, I wrote about books vs. e-readers and when I use which.

I just wanted to do a quick follow-up on this and confirm that all experience since then backs up my decision to buy actual books for non-fiction, and reserve the e-readers for fiction only—but that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped second-guessing myself.

I’ve still mostly been reading non-fiction, but my Kindle, iPhone, and iPad have all got a workout this week, and I have a new appreciation for Kindle syncing. I’ve been reading the Hunger Games trilogy1, and the ability to seamlessly go between devices without losing my place has been fantastic. I’ve been reading on the Kindle at home, on the iPhone on the train, and on the iPad while giving blood the other day.

For straight reading, this is fantastic. I’m still debating where I may want to use the digital format for non-fiction, though. In particular, I think that memoirs and other books that fall into a story-like format would be good for it, but I’ve never felt comfortable taking notes in digital books. And that’s exactly why I stopped using the Kindle for non-fiction: anytime I came across something I wanted to note, I would pause and debate how I wanted to handle it, because I didn’t trust that highlights there wouldn’t be lost—or more importantly, that they would be meaningless without the surrounding text to provide context. However, the important part of that sentence came at the beginning: “I would pause and debate.” It was distracting and took me out of what I was reading.

I still haven’t really tried iBooks, because there didn’t seem to be a good reason to: books purchased for Kindle had more flexibility, in terms of devices. But, I think it might be worth it to try one or two books in iBooks to see how well it handles notes and highlights. The iBooks page on Apple.com indicates that notes can all be viewed in one place, and from there you can jump to the context within the piece. If it works smoothly, it may well be the tool I’ve been waiting for to get away from physical books.

  1. More on that later. You can judge me if you must.