Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Can't Burn an E-Book

Today I sat on a bench surrounded by my favorite acres of land on Planet Earth—Central Park. A glorious day—sun burning just right. Humidity was set as if I had a say in the matter and the breeze was almost stereotypically perfect. I would spend my lunch time reading. I confess I am a sucker for a Dan Brown book and was anxiously awaiting to see what edge-of-my seat situation Robert Langdon would be in.

     I reached beside the bench, shooing away a nosey squirrel and pulled one of the half-dozen scrolls from the large canvas bag. I unrolled it to where I had left off last session and began reading. My arms began aching after a moment—the ivory rollers taking their toll. But there is a nostalgic joy reading from a scroll. The smooth, almost liquid feel of the ivory. The soft crackle of the hemp sheet. The artistic swirling of the cursive.

     As Johnny Rotten would say, BOLLOCKS!

     No- I did not read The Lost Symbol from a scroll. WHY WOULD I?  In reality I read it in hardcover and for only one reason- I couldn't wait until the paperback came out and at the time I did not own a Kindle. Which brings me to the subject at hand: E-books and E-book readers.  I will often get this nose in the air, eye-rolling, pishaw! from the "I need to feel the pages in my fingers" paper book snobs. As for me? I love my Kindle. I have not tried a Nook or  Sony reader but as for my Kindle it is how I read 90% of the books I enjoy. Do I miss the feel of paper? No. Why? Do I miss using an abacas to figure out the tip at a restaurant? (I actually use my brain to figure out tips and not my I-phone which further proves my  argument that using electronic devices does not have to make you lazy or stupid.)

     The Kindle is lightweight. It can hold my entire library should I desire so. I love the ability to position the cursor on an unfamiliar word and get its definition (and I read a lot of heady non-fiction so this comes in handy).  I can hear the argument of the book snob now—why can't you just look the word up in a seventy five pound, horse-skin bound Webster?  Ok- next time you need to know what the capital of Iceland is I expect you to head out to your public library and flip through an Almanac. Google? NO! Sorry, that is the lazy man's way!

     It is funny how the first few days of reading with a Kindle your hand, trained by many years of paper book reading, reaches for the upper corner to turn the page. It stops after a few dozen times. It also takes some adjustment going from page numbers to "percentage read". So? No biggie. We all moved with ease from rotary phones to pushing numbered buttons. As you travel through history adjustments must be made.

     I have also found I get through books faster on my Kindle than I do in paper form. Especially longer ones. I think its because seeing I have 90% of a book left to read is far less daunting than seeing, in 3D, the thickness of another 500 pages left to read.

    As an author, I confess I find holding my published work in my hand is sexier than downloading a PDF—but this is something as an author I have gotten over. E-book sales are soaring. I will almost without a doubt sell more e-book versions of my upcoming kidlit novel "Rupert Starbright: The Door to Far-Myst" than I will paperback.

    So like the tube TV, rotary phones, videotapes and vinyl LPs—the paper book (in terms of popular reading) will probably find itself a beloved object of collectors. Hey, you just read this and not once did you feel paper between your fingers.

     Relax, it really is not so bad.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really liking my iPad. The print is easy on my bad old eyes and I can enlarge it if I want to. I still like print too, so I'm enjoying the best of both worlds. I haven't read any eBook picture books and am wondering how they turn out. I'm also very slow adjusting to new things, like microwaves, computers, and cell phones. :)