Monday, August 2, 2010

Brave New World...

He catches me staring. Again.

You think he’d be flattered; he’s at least ten years older than I am. As it is, he looks puzzled and a wee bit uncomfortable. I want to say something to set his mind at ease—something along the lines of, “Sorry, sir, I’m not ogling you. I’m just leching on your iPad.”

I'm not sure that would help.

I shift my attention back to my paper book, vowing that I absolutely will not stare again. But, after a few minutes, I’m back to the covert ogling. I may be in danger of becoming the first person to ever be booted from Starbucks for techual harassment.

It’s just that eReaders have been on my mind a lot over the past week. For the first time, I’m seriously considering getting one—if only because it depresses me that my mother is more technologically advanced than I am.

Once I opened myself up to the idea, I definitely saw some advantages: I buy a lot of books; I have a two bedroom apartment; I do not like the feeling that piles of books are going to collapse and bury me as I try to navigate my way to the kitchen for a 2:00AM snack. This means I go through massive book purges several times a year (as I work on this blog post I’m actually on Skype, trying to get my sister to adopt books I think she might like). An eReader would cut down on the hassle and guilt of buying more books than I can comfortably house without someone calling in the crew from Hoarders.

It would also make packing for trips much easier (since I wouldn’t have to guess which books to bring or allocate suitcase space to them) and it might be very good for the gym (assuming I ever start using that membership I’m paying for every month).

But there are also cons. No new book smell. No second-hand book smell. No flashing a cover in public like a badge proclaiming I’m in some special club. No indulging in the fantasy that a cute guy will spy me reading one of his favorite books and we’ll bond in the ultimate, bookish meet-cute.

The solution, obviously, is a mix. Buy paper books that I know I’ll want to add to the shelves in my living room and loan out to friends and buy eBooks for travel, the gym, research, or when I’m iffy on whether or not I’ll totally love something.

Will I buy an eReader? I’m honestly not sure. If I do, it will likely be a Kobo or a Kindle and it will probably be purchased in a moment of reckless consumer abandon. If I do, I promise you’ll all hear about it at great length (whether you want to or not).

In the meantime, though, I’d love to hear from you guys. What do you think of eReaders? Do you have one? What kind? If not, what’s been holding you back?


Nomes (inkcrush) said...

"No indulging in the fantasy that a cute guy will spy me reading one of his favorite books and we’ll bond in the ultimate, bookish meet-cute."

haha. classic.

I just love looking at my books in the flesh. seeing them on my book shelf makes me feel good in general. so, not interested, yet...

Erinn said...

I have a nook and I'm going to start reading more books on it. so far I've read Zero. so anything would be an improvement. My husband really likes it. I love how much space and money it saves. I also really dig the free sample with every book too.

Meredith said...

I have a Sony Reader that a friend received as a gift. He already had a Kindle, so free Reader for me! It's great for books that I only want to read once and don't feel strongly enough to lend out to people, like you said. The problem, though, is figuring out which books these are ahead of time. I've bought a lot of books on the Reader that I wish I owned in hard copy.

I haven't touched the Reader in almost a year for that reason. Well, that and I just like owning paper books. I like being able to touch the pages and flip back to a re-read part I've already passed, which is not that easy to do on an eReader.

Mel said...

I was totally with you and the smell of a book, the feel of flipping pages, the cute little dog ears marking my progress...until I was given and iPad this year as a totally awesome B-day present. Now I'm a total sell out. It is so easy, purchase a book with one-click, no waiting. You can hold the book in one hand or rest it on your lap, put it down without losing your page. And a lot of the classics you can get for free. In a moment of weakness, I almost bought e-versions of books already on my bookshelf.

As for the cute guy, maybe he'll be checking out your tech-savy gadget.

Becca said...

I do have a Kindle, but not by choice. It was given to me as a gift. After a brief period of awe over it (which somehow overcame my deep hatred for it) I lost interest. It's sitting on my nightstand right now, underneath my tissue box. It definitely has its pros, but I'm such a sucker for all those little details that make a paper book great.

The only reason I really liked it at all was because I was able to upload my own pdf documents on it to take elsewhere.

Crystal said...

I don't technically have an e-reader yet, though I have been guilty of trying out the e-reader apps on my ipod touch. I downloaded the kindle, B&N and apple ibooks apps (for free) to kind of test the waters and see how I feel about it before investing the money in a separate piece of technology. I have to say, there are some serious pros to just downloading a book and tossing it into my pocket or purse. It's lighter, more convenient and holds a lot more data. Unfortunately, I just can't forget my true love of books. The smell of the paper, the network of creases in the binding as I've read and re-read it countless times, the notes in the margins and the dog-eared corners when I've found a passage that I just have to come back and savor repeatedly. I will keep a couple of ebooks on my ipod that I can pull out in times of desperation, but I simply can't give up my paper copies.

Jennifer said...

I've got an ancient Palm M130 that I got for $6 on eBay. It runs Mobipocket just fine and the 256 chip that I put my books on is big enough to hold more books than I bother carrying. I generally have 20 to 30 books on there at a time.

It's no substitute for a paper book, but it's a great addition to my reading habits. :) There are only a couple of things I don't like about ebooks - it's not possible to flip back and forth between two or more sections of a book (as Meredith said, I like being able to flip back to a re-read part I've already passed). I also hate dealing with the stupid protections that are frequently place in ebooks to keep them from being illegally shared. It can make it complicated for me to read one of them, and I don't like that. I tend to avoid books with protections in favor of DRM free options, whenever possible.

What I love about it - having a book with me at all times, whatever I'm in the mood to read, and the ability to have an easy way to read all the free classics that are available out there at sites like Gutenberg. (I hate reading books while sitting at the computer.)

Jill Wheeler said...

Mwahahahaha! Techual harassment!

I just got a Nook and ADORE it! It feeds my desire for instant gratification. Any time I feel like reading a book, zap! It's there!

And, whereas I often forget to take a book with me to the doctor's office, I carry the Nook around in my purse, and it's there whenever I have a few unexpected moments to read. It's upped my reading rate considerably.

Tere Kirkland said...

Got a nook last month, and I've read at least five books on it so far. Love it.

Lots of new releases are available the same day, so that's great. I save a little money on new books, and I like not having to search for the book I was reading if I set it down somewhere. I NEVER forget that I've put down a relatively expensive e-reader.

Plus, I like how easily I can sideload pdf ebooks I already had to it.

The Kindles are coming down in price and size all the time, but I'm happy with my nook in its hard-cover.

Horserider said...

I want an e-reader but I'm not sure about it. I mean, I'd miss the feel of the pages and the smell of a brand new book. I'd miss being able to stare at the lines of books stacked on my shelves to be read. Though the main thing is still the price. I'm thinking about asking for a Kobo or a Nook for Christmas.

Kathleen said...

Nomes: That's definitely one of the reasons I hesitate. I think I'd end up buying a mix. I've been thinking about picking up Will Grayson, Will Grayson, for example and I know I'd want that on my bookshelf.

Erinn: Space and money are probably the biggest advantages I see at the moment--especially the space.

Meredith:I can totally see myself buying duplicates--especially since I buy so many titles on impulse. (and awesome of your friend)

Mel: The no waiting is very attractive. I was at the bookstore yesterday trying to find two YA titles. They didn't have either. My first thought was, "I wouldn't have this problem if I caved and got an eReader."

Becca: The loss of interest is one of my worries. I do like the PDF feature.

Crystal: You comment made me totally want to go home and cuddle books. You also reminded me that I downloaded one of those aps to my iPod touch and only played with it once (sign?).

Jennifer: I think that's how I see it: an addition/expansion rather than a replacement.

Jill: I usually have a book in my purse but sometimes I don't feel like reading the particular book I've got on the go. I like that an eReader would fill my purse with options.

Tere:You're the third person to mention the Nook. I think that might be a sign I should add it to my list of possibilities.

Horserider: I do love the look of books on a shelf. There are quite a few books that I've hung onto just because I like how they look in my bookcase.

Debra Driza said...

Hilarious post, Kath! :D

While I still prefer paper books, I did receive a Kindle (gasp, gasp!) as a gift, and I have to say it's super handy. I love being able to download a book in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, and also samples chapters to see if the book is something I'll enjoy. Like you mentioned--they're perfect for traveling, too.

Also--it's the bomb for beta reading! :D

I was happily surprised at SCBWI to hear so many publishers very optimistic about ebooks, too!

Brittany said...

What do you think of eReaders? I have mixed feelings about them for all of the reasons you gave. There are so many positives and negatives to getting one, so I think the best way to commit to one is you either have to buy it on impulse or receive it as a gift.

Do you have one? Yes, I do! I've had it for almost a year and a half now.

What kind? I have the second generation of the Amazon Kindle. It's great, I won't lie. The books are cheaper. You can change the font size so it's easier to read when you're sleepy or walking on the treadmill. You can get free samples of books and you can download almost all of the "classics" for free. Things I don't like about it? The screen is not in color and for many books, you can't see the pretty cover that illustrators work so hard on. To see how far along you are in a book, you're only able to see percentages. No page numbers. It's odd when some asks you how much more you have to go and you say, "Thirteen percent!"

I still buy books that I can hold and smell (ha!) and put on my bookshelf. I don't think I'll ever fully convert to the eReader and never buy a paperback or hardcover book again. And something else that is just not good for my pockets but wonderful for the authors -- I usually buy a book on the Kindle, read it, love it, and then run to the book store to buy "the real thing." (I did this with all of Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs's books.) So, that's another thing to think about. If you buy books on the eReader and fall completely in love with them, will you feel compelled to buy them "in the flesh" as well? That is probably my biggest struggle with the eReader.