I like techy things. I think it’s cool beyond words that I can theoretically store a library worth of books on a thumb drive the size of my little finger. (Okay, okay, I need some add-ons – a monitor, a computer – to read them from an ittybitty 16 G thumb drive, and those are unwieldy. But it’s the concept.)
So you would think I’d be completely thrilled with the e-reader I bought a couple of months ago. And I’m not. I admire it. It’s a worthwhile tool. But I don’t love it the way I love my paper books.
(Note: Okay, what I actually bought is a Kindle. But none of this post is meant as criticism of Kindles as such – I’m sure I would feel the same way about a Nook or any other brand. So I’m going to refer to it here as an “e-reader”.)
Anyway – why don’t I love my e-reader? A couple of reasons. The first one may go away with time: It feels funny, because I haven’t used it heavily yet, because I’m reading through a lot of the books we have on hand so I can find ones to give away. Changing pages still isn’t automatic: I keep thinking that I should press a button on the right side to page forward, and the left side to go back. The size seems off, though I’m comfortable holding books that are either larger or smaller. But these are things I’ll get used to. What else is wrong?
Well, I don’t fully trust it. I made my living from computers since back before there were PCs, and I know how fast everything goes out of date. It’s not practical to get at data that was stored when today’s ten-year-olds were in diapers. But I own lots of books that were printed twenty, thirty, forty years ago that still work as designed.
On the other hand, books do wear out – and the ones you like most wear out fastest. Some of these can only be read because they’ve been taped together:
I should probably get e-reader versions of all the books I really value and rely on those. And yet, it’s so much faster and easier to flip back and forth to different parts of a paper book. Sure, I can bookmark specific locations in an e-reader, but moving between them is much slower than checking a paper page with a physical bookmark.
Then again, I can search the e-reader for particular phrases…something that’s completely impractical with paper.
And it’s so compact.
But who knows when it will become obsolete and leave me locked out of my electronic library?
I like it. I don’t trust it. Bah.