Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I Tried to Like it
I can say a few good things about it:
1. It has relieved the dull ache I get in my bad wrist (broke it while on a kickboxing ‘date’ years ago). It is so light and I can hold it or rest it up against something.
2. Downloading books is so simple. I can get a new book at any time of day or night and in any kind of weather.
3. The e-books cost less than the hard copy versions.
4. Books are stored inside the little gadget instead of cluttering my office shelves. (I did a book purge a few years back and vowed then to sell or donate most of the books I buy in order to keep my office manageable.)
5. It is easy on the eyes – unlike my computer screen.
6. There must be environmental benefits. I wonder what size of carbon footprint an eReader leaves behind.
Although I have tried, I just cannot love this gadget. I prefer hard copy books. Here’s why:
1. Without the ability to turn physical pages, or flip back to a page I have read, or see in my left hand how much I have read, my memory is being challenged. Sure, I can push a button back to the last page or any of the pages I have read, but I cannot ‘see’ where that page lies physically with respect to the whole (although it is noted that the book is 85% read, for example). I am realizing how much this act of turning physical pages serves as a memory tool for me. With each page that I turn, it’s as if I store in my muscle memory, roughly ‘where’ something happened within the story. When reading a regular book, it’s easy to look back and find something I want to revisit. It’s almost as if my hands know where to look in the bulk of pages on the left side. When I have to click back to find something, I feel lost. I have no idea how far back something happened. I don’t know if other readers are in the habit of looking back within a book as they are reading it and I’m not sure how aware I was that I enjoyed looking back as often as I do until this habit was made problematic through the eReader experience. I am just beginning to understand the relationship between how well I remember a story and the physical act of turning pages.
2. It has happened just once so far, but my eReader froze and I was unable to click to the next page. It took a good 5 minutes to get it working again.
3. An eReader runs out of batteries. This is obvious but I didn’t anticipate the inconvenience of having to wait until it was charged to read my book again. Then there is the whole issue of forgetting to re-charge, night after night.
4. I can’t flag my pages with sticky notes! I’m forced to use the notebook that I keep beside my bed to jot down sentences or the numbers of pages that I love. (If there is some way of doing this electronically and you know how to do it, please let me know). I cannot write in my book. Or fold pages that I like.
5. If you are sensitive to scents, as I am, you might notice that your hands smell plastic after holding the eReader.
6. I haven’t looked into this but since there are various text size options, and each option impacts how many words are on a page, I wonder how difficult it would be to refer to page numbers when discussing books with others who have hard copy versions of the book, or have eReaders with a different text size setting than the setting I have.Maybe there is a way around this.
My overall feeling is that the eReader will now be passed on to other family members. I’m interested to see what their reactions will be. My fourteen-year-old is excited to try it out. I know that I will continue to borrow regular books from the library and buy books from the bookstore occasionally. I see myself making use of this new device from time to time – when a terrible snowstorm hits, I’m on the last chapter of a book, and I can’t get out to the library. With just a click, I’ll be able to purchase and download a book at the online store – as long as there is no power outage.
What are your thoughts on eReaders? Love them? Hate them?