e-reader pros and cons
Algonquin Books, my wonderful publisher (I mean that, they are great) has just jumped into the ebook world. I have mixed feelings about this, as I am a real book person. I love holding them, looking at them, moving the piles of them all around my house. At Christmas I decorate with holiday books, placing them on the coffee table, or sideboard, on the sills in the windowseats, on end tables and in bedrooms and bathrooms. I like browsing library stacks, the tables at used book sales, and I like living in a town with an independent bookstore that sells my books and so many other good ones that I don't have time to read them all. I love book covers and I love author photos. They look so smart and thoughtful. I hang out in bookstores in strange cities and airports because I am at home wherever books are. I am not such a fan of electronic readers. I don't do well with batteries, for starters. My phone is always dying. And all those charger cords confuse me. But there's more to it than the power issues. There are reader issues. I just finished Charles Frazier's Nightwoods on my Kindle. I was away, and had finished my other books. My husband, who loves his Kindle, gave me one. He reads his all the time. He even has a little neck pouch with a plastic window to keep it dry when he's hunting, and a lightweight sleeve to keep the sand out of it in Mexico. Reading on the Kindle was a disconcerting experience for me. For starters, I kept forgetting the title. I never saw the cover the whole time I was reading the book. Also, I couldn't tell when the chapter would end without getting lost in the electronic text pages. I couldn't easily read back a few pages to refresh my memory either, or thumb ahead to see what might be happening. I couldn't make notes in the margins. The structure, too, of the novel, was a mystery. I could not see how it was divided into books and chapters, or how long each one was-- only what percentage of the book I had read. Was it 120 pages or 1200 pages? Who knows? This is where my husband will sigh and say, "Read the manual." Honestly, who ever heard of a manual for how to read a book? Talk about making something simple complicated. Then again, the promise of all these computers was that we'd no longer need paper and that email would save us time. Remember that? I have heard that Kindles are supposed to be great when you are on trips, since you don't have to haul heavy books around. That actually makes sense, but I am a nervous flier, and the scariest moments for me are take-off and landing. I have been distracted and comforted by many a good book. But you can't even turn on an ereader then. I also do much of my reading in the bathtub, and I'm afraid a dampened ereader-- or worse-- one accidentally dropped in the Epsom salts would not recover as well as a paper book. Could I get electrocuted? In a pinch, I'll use the ereader, but as long as there are real books, I'm reading them. However -- I write books so you'll read them. I'm not just talking to myself. (I hope.) So, if you prefer a digital tablet, Algonquin Books has just launched a brand new ereader service, and my book If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, has been chosen to be among the "Lucky 7" titles to convince you to try it-- so, please download it today, and tell your friends, and if you are like me and have a mixed reader marriage-- your spouse.