Friday, February 26, 2010

Curling up with a good eBook Reader?

A Barnes & Noble’s gift card has been burning a hole in my wallet since Christmas. I tend to hoard this particular card and relinquish it only when I find a book I really, really . . . really want. In less than two months, I am ready to part with the card.

Approaching Barnes & Noble’s semi-circular customer service counter, I ask the sales clerk to check on the title of a book. While she bangs a few keys on a nearby computer to see if it’s on the shelf, I notice a sleek, seductive device sitting quietly and unassuming on the counter. Wanting to confront but not understand the enemy, I pick up the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s newest contender in the growing arena of eBook readers. Its blatant infiltration into bookstores and on websites like Amazon’s Kindle, is a serious chink in the traditional bastion of the way we read and reading as a whole. At the moment, sitting in the middle of all these books and magazines like an ugly wart, it is grossly outnumbered.

“You interloper,” I mumble to myself.

There’s nothing warm and fuzzy, or exciting about this device and definitely not something I’d want to curl up with in my favorite chair or read in bed. A cold, sterile white frame surrounds a screen with two sets of arrows on either side of the screen. One set at the top, the other towards the bottom.

“How do you turn this thing on?” I mumble again. When I can’t find an “On/Off” switch, I touch all the arrows, realizing this is futile because these arrows obviously govern page direction forward and back. The gadget stubbornly refuses to respond. Not a Luddite, I am tech savvy in some areas while in others I want no part of . . . like the Nook or any other eBook reader.

I return the device to its matching sleek looking easel just as the dark haired sales associate informs me there are two copies on the shelf. I follow her thin shape to the shelves where she locates the book I want. I thank her and she leaves me to peruse at my leisure. I know what you’re thinking. From the comfort of my home I can download from a growing list of books with no effort and without wasting time or gas. But browsing, a favorite pastime, through a bookstore or library would not be possible.

Every book you pick up imparts its own unique personality. From the artwork and the colors of the cover, the fonts to even the paper it is printed on, to its size and weight. The tactile sensation you get from holding a book and turning its pages cannot compare to the cold and slippery Nook. A wonderful aroma surrounds every book whether new or old. Everything about a book teases and engages our senses like a delicious meal. But what awakens our senses when we pick up the Nook, the Kindle, or the Sony Reader?

The irony of this compact, but yet to be determined wondrous (as I write with tongue in cheek) device is not lost on me as I realize what the future holds for “real” books, book stores, libraries and traditional publishing.

What about the ambiance of bookstores and libraries? Both enrich and enhance our social lives and are also great meeting places. This Barnes & Noble’s has a scaled down Starbucks tucked in one corner where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a book, magazine or newspaper, or talk with friends. I didn’t see a button on the Nook for any of this.

Sadly, my feet are not planted in just one world. One foot straddles a world where books, magazines, and newspapers reigned supreme. This is the world I love, understand and thoroughly enjoy. The other foot is desperately trying not to be dazzled, or charmed, by the newest technological advancement in reading. At the moment I am being forced, but will be dragged kicking and screaming I’m sure, into this New World and I don’t like it . . . one bit.

There is a lot more I could say about these devices most of which for me is not good. While I realize change is good, this is not a change I will ever welcome. Give me a real book any day!

Happy Birthday to OTD, wherever you are!



Christina said...

oh, how could i ever think of living, without the pages of a book to turn?! ; )

Relyn said...

Every book you pick up imparts its own unique personality. From the artwork and the colors of the cover, the fonts to even the paper it is printed on, to its size and weight. The tactile sensation you get from holding a book and turning its pages cannot compare to the cold and slippery Nook.

This is so exactly perfect. So perfectly true!! I love it!! I agree. Completely.

Jaime said...

Oh I am so with you on this. Nothing compares to the feel of a real book in your hands. I will go kicking and screaming too...actually, I don't think I could ever betray my love for real gadget I will do without.
(this is coming from a girl who still doesn't own her own cell phone.)