Books V. E-Readers

Hello, readers! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I must apologize for my absence—I’ve been busy, but not so busy that I haven’t been paying attention. And there’s been quite a lot going on, hasn’t there? President Obama appears to have grown a pair, Borders has closed stores all across the country, and of course we have our little bridge situation. I know, I know:  little? Trust me, that was written with more than a little sarcasm. After all, our bridge problem got us featured on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC, did it not? More on that later. Right now, I want to talk about books.

You see, I’m in the middle of reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series right now—to the detriment of any productivity I might have otherwise had. While I’ve been devouring this series, a couple of things have happened: one, my favorite bookstore closed, leaving me like a lost little puppy on the street. The second? Well, I succumbed. I bought myself a Kindle. I found myself with a $150 gift card from Best Buy, and well, what else was I to do with it?

For those of you who don’t know, let me sketch out the situation: Kindle is one of several e-readers on the market right now. In regards to e-readers, or rather, those who care about them: there are two camps. The first are fans. They might be e-reader owners, enthralled with a new electronic toy, and the new-found ability to carry around one’s entire library in one small, lightweight package. Or they might be academics, positing that e-readers will inspire the new generation (and some of the older ones, to be sure) to take up reading in earnest. These types hope that e-readers will eventually increase literary rates, and all that jazz. Very high hopes for a toy, no?

As for the other camp? Well, they’re not fans. These scoff at reading books off an electronic device, touting the superiority of the feel of the page, the smell of ink and paper, and the heavy weight of a tome in one’s hands. This camp is worried, very worried, that these e-readers will singlehandedly bring about the destruction of every bookstore in the world, and doom these page lovers to hoarding their own private caches of books, or else be forced to use an e-reader.

As for me? I’m somewhere in the middle. You see, I also love the feel, weight, and smell of a book. But I was tempted by the shiny toy—it’s storage capacity, the e-ink technology, et cetera. I wasn’t about to drop the money for one—but if one day a Kindle came into my possession, I told myself I wouldn’t buy any books off it, just download books that are in the public domain, and hence, free. I’d store the PDFs that I frequently find myself downloading on there. And maybe, just maybe, if Amazon had a feature that allowed me to download a copy of any physical book that I purchased so much the better, right?

(Note: Amazon doesn’t offer the last feature, to my great disappointment. Dreams often don’t come true.)

Well. You know what happened: I’m reading this series. I get a Kindle. Borders closes its doors. And…I find myself in desperate need of the next book in the series, with nowhere to go to get it. Yes, I said desperate. You see, Diana Gabaldon is good. I found myself cursing this woman for the dozens of hours of sleep (not to mention the lost productivity) that she cost me.

So I bought the next book in the series on my Kindle. Right there, right then. Bam. Back to reading. And that was wonderful.

I do love my Kindle. But it does not mean, to dash the hopes of my brother, that I will stop buying paper-and-ink books. I have a library to stock, after all. I’ll have to hunt for a bookstore to adopt. But in the meantime—if I’m devouring book after book, I can buy the next one at three in the morning, or while sitting at Heine Brothers, and will instantly be able to start. And that is a reader’s dream.

I’ll be finished with the Outlander series soon—and then, I hope, I will return to write in earnest.