But how many of you would happily leave it lying around the house within sight of the children / the In-laws / the new friend you've just made through the school run?
For years people have been disguising their reading matter, from the man hiding a 'specialist magazine' within a newspaper to adult Harry Potter fans concealing the original cover. In the latter instance the publishers had the great idea of producing a more 'grown up' sleeve but by and large if you didn't want people to know what you were reading you had to hide it.
And then the Kindle came along and we didn't have to do this any more. We can travel to work reading something subversive or sit in Costa consuming something rude with our latte. Far easier to casually slip a Kindle out of sight or turn off its screen than try to force a 533 page copy of 'Mrs Spanky's Midnight Visitor' into your handbag before the person next to you sees it.
As a lover of books I was unsure that an 'e-reader' would be for me; there's nothing quite like the look and feel of a book, and to receive one as a gift shows that someone has really thought about you (unless perhaps you're a woman who has been bought Ian Botham's autobiography, or a pensioner who's been bought a Viz annual). I think it's important to have books within reach of our children to encourage them to read frequently and widely and hopefully instil a passion for language. That said, the advent of our daughter learning to read means that some books have had to be moved up high. And if I have to climb on a chair to reach them, they're not getting read.
With the introduction of a Kindle into our house I can now have whatever reading matter I choose without fear of it being stumbled upon by the children and my handbag is considerably lighter. Sold to the lady who likes sweary fiction.
I thought that these were the two main benefits until I spoke to a friend who lives in the UAE. She told me that 'Fifty Shades..' is banned in her country and whilst there was not the option of picking it up at the local bookshop she had been able to download it onto her Kindle. It's not a revolutionary read, and hardly an important read - but right there was an act of civil disobedience - go Mrs! I hadn't before considered the power of an e-reader to put content into the hands of people who otherwise might not be able to access it; whether that's due to a Government wanting to keep information from its citizens or being too old or infirm to leave your house.
So despite the well-reasoned arguments against them, I am all for e-readers for their ability to give more people access to more books, for helping make sure my children don't end up learning a load of swear words because I've left Frankie Boyle's latest book lying around, and for making saucy stories written for women more mainstream. Which reminds me - there's a bit of reading I need to catch up on.....