hurricane-sandy-damage-new-jerseyOne of the most common complaints about e-books is that you can’t do as much with them when the power goes out. Well, our former editor Paul Biba has been caught without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and has found that, within limits, e-reading can work just fine without a steady source of electricity.  (Hat tip to Nate Hoffelder for pointing this post out to me in e-mail.)

While he limited himself to paper book reading during the day, Paul found he could read from his Kindle PaperWhite after dark with the light on very easily. He reported reading every night for two weeks and ending up using only half of the battery.

Happily, Paul now has power again, and soon hopes to have landline Internet and cable service back as well.

Paul’s isn’t the only story of surviving the outages on limited hardware I’ve seen lately, though the other one pertains more to e-writing than e-reading. CNet reporter Seth Rosenblatt recounts his experience stuck with a Samsung Chromebook as his only Internet surfing and writing tool for the week following Sandy. Rosenblatt reported that the cloud-based netbook let him get by for the most part, but that Chrome’s tendency to balk at having more than a dozen or so tabs open at one time was a real drawback for a busy writer who also follows personal social media.


  1. This is why I think eInk remains not only a viable choice, but the choice for people who are looking for a book reader. The ability to be able to read for days or even weeks without access to power should be a big deal. After all, few of us are in areas that never experience power outages and for some of us, they can be expected a couple of times a year.

  2. I spent four days without power here. A tree was sitting on my car and we don’t live within walking distance of any free Wi-Fi location so I was pretty much stuck, (I doubt they would have been working anyway). I kept my KK wireless turned off except for the minute it took each morning to download the NYTimes. With no heat and no light, I spent most of those four days snuggled on the sofa wrapped in blankets and ended up reading for 10-12 hours a day…sunlight during the day, candlelight by night.

    When the power finally came on, I had about 1/2 battery power left.

  3. I bought a solar panel a year or so ago at Costco (forget the name). It didn’t come with a battery pack but does have a USB port so you can plug a third-party battery into it. I’ve used it to charge my Richard Solo battery for use with my iPhone.

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