My adventures in E-Reading

For the holidays my wonderful husband gave me a Nook by Barnes & Noble. I had expressed some interest and curiosity about the emerging world of e-readers, but wasn’t quite ready to take the leap. The idea of reading on a device still felt wrong to me on some fundamental level. So, I was a bit surprised by the gift. Surprised and nervous. The truth is that I’ve got physical books all over our house. There isn’t enough room for all my books. They are stacked up in piles in my office, our dining room and our bedroom. So, given the lack of shelf space in our house this was a very thoughtful and well-timed gift.

I’ve been busy working through my physical stack of “to be read” books since the holidays. But with our annual trip to Florida approaching I decided the Nook was a much lighter option than packing along a few volumes to read. So, I downloaded a few titles from my local library and set out to test my new device. The process of checking out library books and transferring them to my Nook took a little more work than I bargained for initially. There was installing and re-installing software. Hair pulling. Messages that read “user not authorized” and google searching message boards until I figured out a solution. I cursed under my breath, “no real book gives me this trouble.” All told, it took a few hours to download, transfer and finally get up and running. I wouldn’t consider myself particularly inept with technology, so this process frustrated me a bit. Okay, in the height of it, more than just a bit.

But once I got up and running, I started reading Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and sort of fell in love. There is much to love about an e-reader. For one, the words on the virtual page felt natural to me. I can read it in varying types of light including sunlight. I can hold it with one hand and read, using my thumb to scroll forward to the next page. This is particularly helpful when I’m dealing with my three year old and three month old. If I get interrupted (see aforementioned children obstacles to reading) the Nook remembers what page I was on and goes into a sleep mode that changes the page to pictures of famous authors. Hello Virginia Woolf! Kurt Vonnegut! Oh, you handsome devil, Mr. Whitman.

While my daughter napped on my chest, I could read laying down without my wrist groaning under the weight of a heavy book. As we traveled to Florida, I found it easy to slip the Nook in and out of my bag to read. I like how I can switch books if I get bored, without having to dig through my bag.

There are a few things I don’t like about the e-reader. I like to take notes as I read. This is possible, but awkward and cumbersome to highlight the correct text and punch out each letter of my observation on the tiniest keyboard imaginable. Worse than text messaging. I didn’t want to take the Nook everywhere on our trip. The beach? It just seems like a bad idea for something electronic. I did take it to the pool, but I worried about my three year old’s proclivity to getting water where it doesn’t belong. It has a decent battery life, but does need to be charged. Books, obviously, don’t need a plug to work.

Otherwise, I’m happy with my e-reader and glad I’ve ventured into this brave new world of books. I recently purchased my first few books too. That led to discovering another feature — I can “lend” my purchases to others. One book I wanted, The Things They Carried, I snagged electronically for only 99 cents. (I’m really interested in linked story collections right now. Playing around with the idea of working on a project like this.)

Anybody out there with an e-reader? What are your thoughts?

One thought on “My adventures in E-Reading

  1. I got myself a Sony eReader for my birthday and I love it. I've wanted an eReader ever since I saw one on Star Trek, before eReaders actually existed. Every time I pick it up I feel like I'm living in the Future (some people thought The Future would mean flying cars; for me, it meant eReaders).

    I am amazed that I can fit the complete works of Leo Tolstoy and Alexandre Dumas on a device small enough to fit in my back pocket.

    I agree with the downsides of eReaders that you pointed out in your blog: buying books isn't a smooth process, I can't take it near water (no reading in the bathtub), and annotating is a pain. That last one is particularly disappointing because I always write in my books.

    I will always buy both paper books and eBooks, but I'm still jazzed about all the possibilities eBooks open up.


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