Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reading Device? I don't think so...

The latest reading craze is a portable reading device. They are manufactured under several names--if you are an Amazon user you have probably heard of the Kindle.

My husband just bought one of these, and I must say that every thing that appalled me about a hand held internet reading device before one arrived in my home still appalls me now. This reading device is so repulsive--I could not even look at it. I won't bother to describe it or its features--mostly because just looking at it sends cold chills up and down my spine. Suffice to say, my husband is thrilled that at the push of a button you can download any book from among 160,000 titles and begin reading. No more driving to the bookstore or waiting in the library queue or waiting for your special order to arrive by mail. You just push a button a voila--the words are there on your screen.

I have begun to panic that this portable reading device is the beginning of the end for books and bookstores and libraries. My husband challenges me.

"Why do you care? Books are wasteful. They take up resources. With my reading device, no trees are cut down and no gas is wasted driving to the library."

Okay, I feel bad about that, but look what is at stake!

I love books. I love how they feel--smooth and cool. I love to turn pages and I love the way you can set them side by side on your shelves and reminisc about fond memories with favorite characters, or what you learned from some intrepid heroine. I love the different sizes and covers. I love the picture of the author on the back and I love how they smell. I have always worshipped at the altar of books, and I know that any answer can be found in a bookstore or a library--the shelves and aisles are filled with possibilities.

I cannot imagine having no books in my house. In the case of the portable reading device--I think you don't even get diskettes or computer chips. I think you simply get a little link to click on your hand held device.

I cannot imagine a sadder world than one where all my books are condensed to a few clicks on a computer screen. Can you?


lisa said...

Yikes! I love smelling that wonderful scent of old pages, waiting to be rediscovered again. Books are my safety net, waiting to catch me and spark my imagination always.

Although I do love the easy of the internet and agree with your hubby's valid points (trees are important), I too, cannot imagine a house free of books! It sounds so..big brother-ish. At least in my own library no one can tell what is on my mind - what my interests are and what I might be contemplating. I suppose they can check out my library records or see what books I have purchased via sales. Much more work that way.

~Lisa :)

sweetcakes said...

How long does it take to download a book from the internet? I don't think I'd have the patience to wait. And I would miss the library and the bookmobile too much.

Geoff said...

OK, I gotta respond here!

I love books and libraries as much as about anyone (why else would I get a Kindle except to be able to read more, not less!). There are certainly some books that would be entirely inappropriate as e-books (books that are heavily illustration or photograph-driven, for example). And the current crop of e-book devices are clearly of the 1.0 generation, and have much room for improvement. But I have to say -- I can see some real promise here. The screen looks like print on paper, and isn't back-lit like a monitor. The convenience factor is impressive -- I can carry around over 150 books on the thing, and optional memory upgrades allow far more. The most recent book I purchased was 350 pages. I bought it right from the device (no computer is necessary at all in the entire process), and it downloaded in its entirety in approximately 30 seconds. That's it -- you push a button and you have a new book in less time than it takes to pull the Borders bar code sticker off a paper book!

I definitely don't want to see books disappear -- but tree pulp is only one of a long line of evolving communications technologies. It wasn't the first, and it won't be the last.

K.T. said...

I so wanted one of these at one point. Now after reading, I don't. Or at least I am on the fence again since reading Geoff's comment.

I mainly wanted one for travel. The books I read are mainly books that I can fit in my purse. If I can't fit the book in the purse, it usually doesn't get read until I am on vacation. I'm one of those people who sneak in reading time while waiting for anything. For example, I have read all the Sue Grafton mysteries, except T. I have the book. I got it for Christmas. I said 'please don't get this for me until it comes out in paperback'. My sister got it anyway. I'll either have to go on vacation and take it with me, or I'll need to re-buy in paperback.

I think I'm complaining too much.

I'll wait for the 4.0 version. Who am I kidding? I don't even have an iPod yet.

Steph said...

I love books, too! I spend all day looking at the screen - in the evening, I want something I can touch. Getting books from the library eases my mind, too. And there are alternates to paper from trees - that gives me hope!