The pleasures of e-books
In the next year, a lot of people who have never read an e-book are going to discover the pleasures of the experience.
I can’t believe that five years ago, I was only reading books printed on paper.
E-books were available, but I wasn’t sitting at a computer reading them.
I loved (and still love) paperbooks. I’m a former bookstore manager with ten thousand books on shelves in my home.
I never went anywhere without a book…actually, at least two. I didn’t want to have the horror of running an errand, finishing a book, and not having another one before I got home.
I did not think I would like e-books. For me, as for many people, books were magical objects. I treated them with love, I’d say. You couldn’t tell I’d read a book when I finished, usually…they’d be in perfect shape.
Older books were even more special, and deserving of respect. The fact that you had to handle them carefully, that they could actually fall apart if you didn’t know what you were doing…wow.
Just being in the presence of a hundred year old book would make me smile.
I almost imagined that there was something addictive in the physical book making process…that we booklovers actually had to have them, because of some chemical dependency.
I didn’t think there was any way a booklover like me was going to be satisfied with seeing words on a screen…I wanted pages.
I was wrong.
For those of you who are reluctant, don’t be afraid.
I know some of you are saying, “I’m not afraid…I’m disgusted. Books have ben perfect for centuries.” Others think that EBRs (E-Book Readers) are elitist: why pay hundreds of dollars when you can get used books for a buck, or free at a library?
Let me tell you a little bit about what having a Kindle has meant to me, as a booklover.
I have books wherever I am…any time, anywhere. Not a book, or even two books…hundreds of thousands of books.
Have you ever looked up at the sky, and felt it was a Kipling kind of a day? Ever seen a squirrel scamper up a tree, and thought about Tarzan? Have you been out at a beach, and imagined you saw the Nautilus just off shore?
What about a philosophical discussion, and you start arguing about what Kant said?
Have you been out with friends and had somebody say, “Ours is but to do or die”, and you insist the original line is “do and die” (the Light Brigade knew they weren’t going to make it back), but they think you’re crazy, and you can’t prove it?
With my Kindle, I can read the Just So Stories, or Verne, or Burroughs, or Kant…or Tennyson, by pulling them right out of the air. I don’t even have to pay anything for them…those are all free.
Not bad books…the world’s great literature.
Not having to depend on the library to have it. Not having to be put on a waiting list, and waiting for a postcard to tell you it’s on hold for you.
That’s the biggest pleasure, obviously. Reading the books I want to read when I want to read them.
Instant literary gratification.
It’s not just the things that would have been assigned in high school.
There are a lot of free books that would have been hard to find.
If you are willing to pay for books, there are so many choices. We’ll hit half a million available from the Kindle store (in the US) this year.
Speaking of paying, that’s another great pleasure. I save the price of my Kindle every year.
That’s not true for everybody, but it’s true for me.
Then, there is the actual experience of reading.
I like reading on my Kindle better than reading paperbooks…really.
Yes, the fact that books have different text sizes and characters and typography gives them character…no question.
I like that I can read all my books, though. I can increase the text size if I need to do that.
It’s funny, but I like that the books all look the same. It makes reading them more about the words. Yes, there can be different fonts, but there usually isn’t.
I want to communicate with the author when I read. The Kindle is a purer reading experience.
I even like the dictionary. I didn’t think I would ever use it…but every once in a while, I run into some 19th century carriage type and can’t remember which has two wheels and which has four.
I also love e-books for books I have already read.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent picking up a paperbook and flipping through it, looking for some choice passage. I’ll remember some of the words, but can’t remember exactly where it is.
With an e-book, I can search for it to find the exact context.
Search for it, “clip it”, and share it with somebody else.
Oh, and I love that I can share entire books with people! This is especially true with the free classics. If I suggested that somebody read The Monster Men, I could pretty much figure they wouldn’t. If I didn’t have a copy to lend them, where were they going to get it? Now, I can either send them the actual book (at no cost to me or them), or just point them where to get. It doesn’t matter where they are or how big their towns are, or how many bookstores they have.
So, here’s the thing: if you are a booklover, you are either going to start reading e-books in the next couple of years, or you are going to be stubborn about it. It’s going to be how your friends are reading…you know, those that read books. All I ask is that you have an open mind, and at some point, give it a try. My guess is that you are going to find out you like it better. You don’t have to give up paperbooks…this isn’t an all or nothing deal.
You can still love your paperbooks…but you may discover…you just love books.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.