(Warning: 50% of the readers may really find this post interesting. 50% may find it quite boring. The remaining 14% will question my math skills.)
Recently I decided it was time to bite the bullet. You know, the old idiom referring to enduring something painful or, in my case, messing with something bordering on sacrosanct.
I bought an e-reader.
This isn't a commercial, nor am I getting paid, so I won't divulge which one. However, I will tell you that it has opened my eyes to a world that I had no clue existed. There it was, this whole time, right within my grasp. Like an invisible specter I was oblivious to its existence.
No, that is not true. I knew it was there, I just didn't want to see it.
I am a traditionalist. I want to experience things they way they are supposed to be experienced. Want to see a baseball game for the first time? You better eat a hot-dog and remark as to how the pitcher may have an irritating abdominal rash. Want to enjoy a good book? You better buy the hardcover. You better sit back, feel the weight of it in your hands. Smell the paper, feel the pages between your finger tips. An unread book is a challenge; a finished book is an accomplishment.
Yes. That was me. When the idea of "e-books" came about years and years ago, I felt it was an affront to the book industry. Being able to just walk around, with books and books in one tiny device, what am I a monster? How am I supposed to FEEL being half way through a novel? How am I supposed to show off my book collection like a hunter displays the heads of his kill?
*sniff* "Yeah, see that War and Peace? Took that beast down back in '89."
I didn't, just a joke.
This was an honest problem I felt I had. Is a book still a book, if it is no longer a book? Will I still get the same experience reading a story if I could feel the pages, rather than just read the words? I often told myself, no, it isn't the same.
So what broke me? Well, it was practicality.
Books not only cost money, but they cost space. Literal space. The space they occupy on my shelf, my night stand, the floor. Some of the books I've collected, I don't think I will ever read again. Other books, I may not ever read for the first time. Sure I have my prized booked displayed on book shelves, for all to see and amaze in wonder. Most of them, are tucked away in boxes or cabinets, never to see the light of day ever again. My e-reader can hold thousands of books. I am not exaggerating. One e-book is approximately 2MB. My e-reader has 4GB of storage.
The other part is accessibility. You know this decision, "if I bring this book that I am almost done with on the trip, I better take another one." Or how about, "I don't want to carry this thing around all day" (see previous paragraph). Better yet "I want to read this new novel, and I want to read it now!"
That last one, that's me. For the impulse buyer such as myself (proud owner of a temperature activated Green Lantern coffee mug thank you very much)
this is what I needed. When we live in a world where just about anything is at our fingertips, being able to hit "Buy" and have that new book right there on a device...brings a tear to my eye.
So far I have been able to have a lot of freedom in what I want to read, reading samples of something I haven't been sold on yet, and getting access to magazines and books I frankly never would have heard of. It actually feels great in my hands and the screen texture is made to mimic paper. At first glance that seems rather ridiculous, but I will admit, I love it. I can read in bed with no light. I can read directly in sunlight.
I'm not an advocate. I will still buy real-life authentic books and I will buy e-books. There is still a place in this world for sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold October afternoon and indulging in a book. But I think as a writer, having a device that can help propagate the art, my work and the work of others is a pretty great thing.
Lastly, I understand there is something missing in the above equations: Libraries. Where do libraries fit into this scheme of book reading? They are great, but personally not for me. If you want to know why, look up the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Bookstore."
Should explain everything.