Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why I Don't Own An E-Reader

I'm going to Philadelphia for a few days.  No biggie:  I need to have some routine medical tests done (cancer screening because I'm over 50) and all my doctors are in Philly, so it makes sense to bunch all the appointments up into one stretch.

I'll stay with BritHub 1.0, and -- if the weather clears -- I'll be able to sit out in his garden, which is lovely and has a fountain.  (I'll take pictures.)

I *say* I'll get a lot written on my laptop, but I *know* I'll get a lot of reading done.  Which means I need to take books.

Okay, so here's where every happy Kindle-cuddler, Nook-nuzzler, and iPad-petter comes around to insist that what I really need is an e-reader.  Because, they'll point out, if I had an e-reader, I'd be taking all my books with me.

And that is (I gather) a true statement.  But do I want all my books with me?  I remember a grocery shopping trip some decades ago where I knew I wanted to have cereal, but which one?  I stood in the cereal aisle for a long time, unable to decide.  If I had my entire TBR bench worth of books in an e-reader, how would I know what to read?  And wouldn't I risk cuing up one book only to think, "Maybe I'd rather start this other book?" and then cuing up another.  And another . . .

Yes, of course that can happen with a paperback, but it doesn't.  Once I have it in my hands, tucked into my handbag, or sitting on my bedside table, I've officially culled it from the pack and -- most of the time -- am committed to it until it's finished or declared a DNF.

Yes, there are those rare books that just don't sit right with me.  I blogged about "speed bump" books here -- books that have a higher-than-usual barrier to getting started, however delightful they may be once I get going.  Those tend to get shut and either returned to the TBR bench, or left lying someplace with a makeshift bookmark languishing in the early chapters.

Mostly, though, I'm excited about picking books for this trip.  Of course I'll take too many.  But they'll be too many specific books, not too much of an amorphous mass, which is how I imagine the e-books stored on an e-reader.  Like literary oatmeal: undifferentiated except by volume.

I know that's not fair.  I know that's not right.  I know I'm an ignorant cow for writing about a technology when I haven't even tried it.

But some toys and gadgets sound like an awesome idea.  And some don't.  At the present time -- and I'll let you know when this changes -- an e-reader doesn't sound like a great idea.  To me.

Ah, but in the scant minutes before I have to listen to the NPR Sunday Puzzle for my other blogging assignment, let's pick some books, shall we?

Laurie R. King's The Moor (I did start it but never got that far)
Mary Balogh's Simply Perfect (why not start a new series by Balogh?)
Julie Anne Long's Ways to be Wicked (haven't read one of hers in a long time, heh heh)
Loretta Chase's The Lion's Daughter (only one of her not-wildly-expensive-used books that I haven't read)
Sharon & Tom Curtis's Sunshine and Shadow (I may not like it; I *didn't* like The Windflower, but let's try this one and see if it goes better)
Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road (my Twitter friend, Kat, will approve!)
Jess Michael's Nothing Denied (because I need some heat, don't I?)
Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan (a book strongly recommended by Sonoma Lass)
Linda Warren's Deep in the Heart of Texas (a ten-year-old Harlequin Superromance I bought because it was on a receipt inside a book I blogged about here -- when I checked it on Amazon, it seemed intriguing)
Alan Bennett's An Uncommon Reader (sent to me by Janet W.; I now have two copies, so after I read it I think I'll pass it along to BritHub 1.0)
Susan Carroll's The Dark Queen (purchased to see if it was prohibitively "speed bumpy" -- it appears to be historical fiction with romantic and fantasy elements, but I liked her romances, so who knows)
Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose (because it sounds fun)

Will I get all these read?  No way.  But I know I'll have as much fun picking among them as I had picking them out.  No oatmeal here!

(P.S.  If you're wondering, that tote bag is from the Canton Public Library.  As the photo was posted to Flickr in 2008, I'm not sure if they still sell them for $3, but I sure want one!)


  1. See my problem is I always travel light, and can generally only fit three books into my bag.. I run out of books very quickly.. sigh


    Hope it all goes smoothly for you Ms M and that you get some enjoyable reading in.


  2. Sounds like a great wallow and fun time ... wallow in best sense: no responsibilities, just show up on time and Keep Reading! No opinion on e-readers: I figure I'll buy the not-created American Association of Retired Persons e-reader when they develop it! For now I just lug, mail home and buy more! Cars are easy, it's planes :D

  3. Oh and can you let me know if you enjoy Jellicoe Road, I loved Marchetta as a teen but I am unsure (despite Kats squealing, lol) whether to pick up more.

  4. It's going to be an enjoyable time reading-wise at least. It's wonderful you found Sharon & Tom Curtis's "Sunshine and Shadow" and in the past have found "The Windflower." It's wildly expensive whenever I've looked for it and not available through our library system. Woe!

  5. Sorry to preach the gospel of the Kindle, but even at home i find sometime i'm not in the mood for one certain book and can move on to another then go back when through and more in the mood. My books on Kindle are not an amorphous mass, they're easy to sort and i don't get the "run out of books" anxiety i get when traveling without an e-reader. I love my KindleDX, what can i say? : )

  6. If you hate SUNSHINE & SHADOW please send it on to me because I adored that book and lost it to an errant borrower many years ago....(I also loved THE WINDFLOWER so am hopeful that you'll not love S&S.)

    I will not go on about the joys of an ereader...don't really care whether you want one or not. Mine serves its purpose and I love it.

  7. I apologize...there were smiles in my Comment that didn't show up in the final posting. In both paragraphs. 8-)

  8. Edie -- If I win the lottery, I'll get you an e-reader. (Note to self: buy a ticket.) And I will definitely comment on Jellicoe Road.

    Janet -- It does help (I fully admit) that I drove down. Usually a single book in a handbag is sufficient for most travel, but not when I have to do a lot of waiting around in waiting rooms.

    Keira -- I didn't find The Windflower; Janet W. carefully mailed it to me (insured) and I carefully sent it back (insured). Respecting the fact that it's a Classic and Much Beloved, I did read the whole thing. I found the writing to be OTT, as the Brits say ("over the top"). But hey, I'm a cranky reader, as witnessed by my failure to appreciate all that is wonderful about Judith Ivory's books! :-)

    Anonymous Kindle-cuddler: I really do (truly, no sarcasm here) know that I'm wrong about e-readers. I also freely predict that when (not if, but when) I finally buy one I'll probably ask people why they didn't *make* me buy one before then. And I will deserve all the abuse I'll get.

    But I have to wonder why, since all that is surely true, don't I want one now? I can afford one, but everything I read about DRM, price of books, issues about which to buy, etc., adds to my own Luddite tendencies. Not so with MP3 players, which I freely admit are the greatest invention since the laptop. As soon as it was explained to me, I wanted one. So I do think there's a gap in either the technology, or the marketing, or both for e-readers.

    I could be wrong, of course.

    Sharyn -- Almost certainly you may have my copy of Sunshine and Shadow, even if I do end up liking it. I also have the male stripper one; d'you need another copy of that?

    As for the Kindle and its ilk, I do respect you as an ardent owner. And I know you are always smiling!

  9. Thanks for posting the photo of our tote bag. We do still sell that bag, along with another new design, for $3. I'd be happy to ship you one.
    Laurie Golden
    Marketing & Communications Manager
    Canton Public Library, Canton, MI twitter/cantonlibrary


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