( I love a library full of real books)
This week, the Word Press weekly writing challenge asked that I vote for my preference: e-books or paperbacks. Then I could write a blog post about why I voted as I did.
I found it hard to vote because the poll wouldn’t let me choose both options. I imagine I am not unlike many readers of today – I love the convenience of my Kindle but I wouldn’t give up books I can hold in my hands without a fight. In the end I chose the paperback option because if I were forced to give up one or the other, I know which one it would be.
I have found that some situations lend themselves to the convenience of my Kindle. I grab it whenever I leave the house. It’s great for those inevitable waiting times because it allows access to a wide variety of reading options. A forty-five-minute wait at the doctor’s office is different from a five-minute wait at the bus stop – or say an overnight wait to get your soon-to-be five-year old signed up for Kindergarten in your catchment area (I kid you not – my daughter and son-in-law just went through this – it’s a crazy world).
I have read books on my Kindle that were every bit as engaging and gripping as books I held in my hands to read. I have forgotten I was using an e-reader and have actually reached forward with one hand to try to turn a page rather than just click the page turn button.
My Kindle has expanded my book reading choices. In the past I wouldn’t have put out the cash to take a chance on certain books. For 99 cents to maybe $2.99 and the instant gratification of whisper-net technology, I’m quite willing to try out something new. And that’s a good thing, especially for a writer. I’m all for broadening horizons.
Why do I still believe that when I settle into the recliner with a fresh cup of coffee or a glass of wine, I need to hold a real book in my hands? Or that cuddling into bed at night to read would not work with my Kindle?
It may be an old fashion idea related to value. Many traditionally published novels are expensive when purchased for an e-reader ( expensive compared to so much that is available in e-format, but still not as expensive as buying a hardcover.) Why would I go out and spend $20.00 to $35.00 for a hardcover and feel that has more value than spending $18.00 for the Kindle version? It’s a good question and the only answer I can come up with is that with a hardcover, I hold something tangible in my hands. It has weight and it takes up space, ultimately gathering dust on a shelf somewhere in my home. I could pass it on to my husband to read or lend it to a friend. The former would not touch the Kindle to save his soul, but in the case of lending a book to a friend, I would so rarely do this voluntarily that it makes a thin argument.
It might have to do with being a book hoarder. (Which, by the way, might explain my reluctance to lend.) Seeing all the books on the shelf is a visible sign of successful hoarding and gives me a guilty ping of pleasure.
Maybe it is the inherent distrust that a fifty-plus-year old has about electronic gadgetry. What if the Kindle breaks down? I do know that all my purchases are safe with Amazon. It’s just too bad that knowing with the rational brain and believing are two radically different things.
And then there is the issue of upgrading. I’ve never felt the urge to upgrade a book. I am now on my fifth laptop in less than ten years and I have to admit, all the old ones still work. I didn’t upgrade due to system failure – I wanted the new and improved model. I purchased my Kindle two years ago. There are much nicer ones on the market now. Thus is the nature of electronic wizardry.
I suppose I should acknowledge all the trees that could be saved if everyone read e-books instead of the paper and ink kind. It’s a valid issue, but what about the amount of energy that is needed to supply the mainframes and servers of the worldwide web so that e-books can exist and fly through cyberspace to our readers? Surely we should consider that as well. But, like many issues, nothing is black or white. With online purchasing there is no need to build and maintain large stores that consume energy resources, while of course employing real people. I’m starting to make my own head spin by going back and forth so many times.
When all is said and done – here I sit – spanning two worlds of the written word – one foot firmly planted in the old world of print media and the other tip-toeing through the new world of electronic books. And the truth is this – I don’t want to move either foot.