For me, it’s the WORDS

News came out this past week about how, for the first time, e-books on the best seller list outsold their printed counterparts. The reason was known – and kind of obvious when one thinks about it. Many readers found a little something extra under the Christmas tree this year in the form of a Kindle or Nook (or other e-reading device). And lo, what else did Santa bring them but gift cards for, b&, etc. Armed with these weapons in hand, what do you think these readers did? They purchased and downloaded tons of e-books, of course! Well, what would you have done in the same situation? Me too…

In my personal experience, I’ve encountered a lot of resistance (I don’t want to use the word “hostility,” but sometimes it feels that would be more appropriate) to the concept of e-reading from incredulous people who ask, “Don’t you miss the ‘feel’ of a real book in your hands?” Well, maybe sometimes I do, but I find that it’s less and less as time goes on. In fact, now that I’m primarily an e-reader, I also experience the reverse. I miss the feel of my iPad or my Nook in my hand. Or more to the point, I miss being able to quickly highlight a passage, or find a passage I’ve already highlighted, or jot down a quick note.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a distinct aesthetic pleasure (which I also experience) in holding or looking at a well-made book, and one feels a great sense of pride or accomplishment in looking at a shelf full of books that one has read. I don’t think I’ll have the same sense of pride in looking at the “my library” display on my Nook app on my iPad. I’d argue, though, that this pleasure is an entirely different thing than reading the book itself. Anyone can buy a printed edition of On the Road or East of Eden and, yes, it will look good sitting on your bookshelf, but what really makes me feel good is knowing that I have read THE WORDS in those books and that they have left their mark on me. The words (i.e., the ideas) should stand on their own regardless of the medium in which they are delivered to the reader.

I think there is a virulent strain of technophobia involved here as well. I feel that some readers who oppose the e-reading medium and e-books themselves view themselves as “martyrs,” defending the honor of a long-cherished medium (indeed, how long has the printed book held sway? Wasn’t Gutenberg a 15th century printer? And before then there were hand-printed books which, thanks to legions of lonely monks and others, were works of art as well). It’s personal to them, and I guess I can understand that. To me, though, it’s the words that shouldn’t ever change, not the medium. But that is sadly happening too. Also in the recent news..

I know many other book bloggers have already spoken out against this, and I won’t echo their comments here, but I feel this is clearly wrong.

How do you feel about the e-book vs. printed book issue?

Sent from my iPad

More news on the Book retailer/e-reader front

Just thought I’d share a new article I read today on Bloomberg, in case anyone is interested.  Seems Barnes & Noble may be up for sale…

The article’s mostly about “financial stuff” but it does also speak a little about the nook and the e-reader competition out there…


New thoughts on e-reading & e-readers…

There is an interesting article on today about e-readers in general and the Kindle specifically.  (Funny, the nook ® reader from Barnes and Noble – which I hitched my wagon to back in February – is not mentioned by name at all.)

I have to admit it’s pretty tempting just to buy one of the new, “cheap” (at $139) Kindles to add to my arsenal of readers, which currently includes my Nook ®, my iPhone, and my iPad – the latter two of which have apps that will also reader B&N and AMazon content.

I have also been dabbling in reading via the iBooks app on my (relatively) new iPad the past couple weeks.  I have to say it’s a pretty easy reading experience.  I don’t feel like ‘reading with a flashlight shining in my eye’ as Amazon’s boss (and iPad detractor) says, but I also haven’t read for long sittings on my iPad.  You can adjust the brightness of the screen for reading at bedtime, and you can also ‘freeze’ the iPad’s automatic rotation of the screen if its accelerometer senses the device is tilted beyond a certain threshhold.  The ease of note-making and highlighting and bookmarking on the iPad is quite appealing too.  A couple things I don’t like are (1) it is significantly heavier than the nook ®, and (2) the ‘cheesy’ highlight appearance to make it look like a real highlighter has been swiped on the page – it shows a ‘rough’ edge – to make it look more like real highlighting I guess.

I still like my nook ® and have read thousands of pages on it since I bought it in February.  It’s light, and small enough I can slide it into some pockets – depending on what I’m wearing.  It’s my favorite reading method if I’m slouching down into an easy chair in my favorite coffeehouse.

I’ve heard that the Sony e-Reader allows you to check out electronic copies of books from the library.  I haven’t looked into this possibility too much with mine yet, or researched if it’s available in other readers as well.  Does ‘anybody out there’ have any expertise on this issue?

I welcome any comments on your experiences with e-reading and e-readers.

Fed Ex visited my Office this morning…

…with my NEW iPAD!!!  Of course, I won’t be able to do much with it until I get home anyway, since I have to sync it with my home pc’s iTunes, etc.  And I guess I should be working here at the office anyway, rather than tinkering with my latest gadget (it is my lunch hour now, however).  I’m looking forward to exploring the e-reading capabilities of it as well.  I recently downloaded the Barnes & Noble e-reader app to my iPhone, and I like that it gives me access to those books I’ve bought via my nook reader.  I’ve heard reading on the back-lit screen is a problem for some, though – i.e. not easy on the eyes.

Does anyone else out there have an iPad that they’ve used as an e-reader?  Impressions?  Comments?

Well, it’s finally happened

I was reading the introduction to Gulliver’s Travels at lunch today (a paperback version) and I absent-mindedly touched the page with my forefinger to ‘drag’ it so I could see the next page, as if I’m reading on my iPhone or e-reader.  Admittedly, I’m a bit tired and sleep-deprived, but it momentarily freaked me out.  I can’t be the first person this has happened to…

New iPhone App: FreeAudioBooks

Anyone else have this?  I just downloaded today (like the ‘Freebooks’ app, the books are free, but the app is $1.99) and am intrigued.  As a test, I downloaded “The Raven” and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  The reader on the former wasn’t very good.  The latter was ok, but I’m not sure the app allows me download more than one chapter at a time if I’m only on the 3G network as opposed to WiFi or the internet.  Any experienced users of this app out there?  I’d love to hear from you.

Betrayed by my e-Reader!

There I was, cruising through my copy of Sir Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering that I had downloaded to my nook®, thinking “Wow, I’m about 3/4 of the way through this book at last!” only to discover later – while looking at the copy I have on my Free Books app on my iPhone, that it is over twice as long and that my nook® copy is only of “Volume one”.  Son of a…   (And yes, I admit, I was wondering how SWS was going to “wrap this up” in 50 more pages…)

Oh well, the good news is that I have finally “gotten into” this book, and am making real progress,  AND I’m loving it.  Scott is a tremendous writer and is a pleasure to read.  Of course, all the dialogue portrayed in the Scottish ‘brogue’ (is that usage correct, or should it be used only with “Irish”?) is sometimes difficult for me to get through, but that’s a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the rest.

And Meg Merrilies – what a great character.  More on her later…  Coincidental Note: Was reading some financial news today on and learned that the current President of Brazil’s Central Bank is named Henrique Meirelles… hopefully he will not curse their monetary policy!