Ebooks: Big summer reads add their weight to the digital cause

Taking your ereader to the beach will free you from sandy pages, smudges, sore wrists and one-arm sunburn

Holiday ereading: Kindles and other devices are easy to hold on the beach, to pack and to travel with. Photograph: Eyeswideopen/Getty

Holiday ereading: Kindles and other devices are easy to hold on the beach, to pack and to travel with. Photograph: Eyeswideopen/Getty

Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 01:00

The sun is out, the cream is on, the laptop is locked and a new book lies waiting. This is the stuff that summer holidays are made of, but the reality of beach reading can sometimes disappoint. Sandy pages, smudges, sore wrists, one-arm sunburn: getting comfortable with a book on holiday can be difficult, especially if the latest bestseller is a lengthy read.

In the traditional-versus-digital debate, physical convenience is one of the biggest arguments in favour of ebooks. Kindles and similar devices are easier to hold, to pack and to travel with, and they can carry a virtual library of books without fear of adding to luggage costs.

Readers are becoming increasingly aware of these benefits, according to analysis in the UK: PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast this month that ebooks would outsell their traditional counterparts by 2018.

So here are some long summer reads that might be more appealing in digital form.

Published in March, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press, £13.48 for Kindle) is no light read, at almost 700 pages, but this surprise bestseller exploring the inequalities of capitalism is full of interesting arguments and evidence-based theories about the resurgence of inherited wealth.

Piketty, who focuses on the forces that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital, has come under scrutiny from the Financial Times, among others, for his research methods. Yet with income inequality rising significantly in the US and Europe, it is nonetheless a timely volume about the division of wealth in developed nations.

Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, criticised the book’s theses as rhetoric suited to “the well-heeled intellectual salons of Paris and New York”. Decide for yourself while en route to either destination with your ereader in tow.

Campaign precursor

While the soccer World Cup kicked off in Brazil this week, another quadrennial circus was heralded with the launch of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices (Simon & Schuster, £8.55 for Kindle).

Although the next US presidential election isn’t until 2016, Clinton’s second memoir is widely viewed as a precursor for her campaign. With a title geared at reminding the public of the tough decisions she made as secretary of state, the book focuses on the successful calls of her tenure, such as the military raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, in 2011.

At 656 pages, it is bound to contain some self-mythologising and electioneering – which is all the easier to click over in an ebook.

A collection of short stories can make for inspired holiday reading, as it is easy to dip into and offers a range of self-contained worlds. Some of the best anthologies come as weighty hardbacks, but many collections published in recent years, such as Edna O’Brien’s excellent The Love Object: Selected Stories (Faber & Faber, £5.99 for Kindle), are also available as ebooks.

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