Friday, April 5, 2013

Tales From A Reluctant E-Reader

I have bonded with my iPad Mini and thus have begun bonding with the Kindle app and e-reading. As I've said before, I'm not an e-reading hater, I've just always preferred real books. I still do. But the time has come for me to venture a bit further out of my comfort zone for two reasons- access and portability.

In terms of access, more authors are releasing e-content. Short stories and novellas are making a comeback. Authors are enjoying writing short pieces, readers are thrilled to get new content of any length between book releases, so it's a win/win. I'm also noticing e-content for tie-ins to movie and TV shows. This year marks the 50th. Anniversary of Doctor Who and to help celebrate, the BBC has commissioned popular YA authors to pen stories about each of the eleven doctors. A new story is e-published each month until November when the entire collection will be offered in  book form. E-content makes giving readers samples or early access cost effective and simple for authors and publishers.

Before Spring Break I was forced to purchase an e-book from one of my favorite authors because Barnes and Noble ordered such a small quantity of her new release,  it was sold out when I went to buy it. My heart was set on starting the book that night, so I downloaded it. Did I enjoy the book more or less? Not really, but I can't say that I feel like I own it. If I can't grab it off a shelf  or have it autographed is it really a book?

I am the type of reader who travels with books. For a vacation longer than seven days I will take at least five books with me and likely purchase one or two if I happen upon a bookstore. With airfare baggage charges and weight limits, I realize e-books make traveling much easier.

As I add to my e-book collection I have decided to purchase some favorite books that I enjoy rereading more than once- everything by Jane Austen for example. I know I want to reread the entire Harry Potter series as well as the Game of Thrones series. These books are huge and heavy and seem perfect for e-reading except for one catch- I'd need to repurchase them. I own two of all the Harry Potter books already and all of the Game of Thrones titles. E-copies would set me back about $120 total. To be honest, I'd rather spend that money on new books.

Remember how we all had to replace records with CDs and then CDs with digital downloads? Tough choices!

The one aspect of e-reading that still concerns me is how it affects the discovery process. Avid readers love to walk through the stacks at a bookstore or library. If you've reduced your entire reading existence to what you download from a recliner in your family room, I guarantee you'll be missing out on discovering a new author despite Amazon's "readers who bought this, also bought-" feature.

Reading is still a multi-sensory  experience. I've seen students who got e-readers for Christmas spend less time looking at books in the LMC because they now just shop in the Kindle store. Yes they're finding some good books, but that seems like such a passive way to treasure hunt. Book covers and titles are designed to be enticing. A flat screen doesn't capture that in quite the same way in my opinion.

I know reading isn't dying but I can't help but feel that small parts of it are nearing THE END.


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