I love to read. If left to my own devices I would spend all of my spare time curled up on the couch with a good book. When I was on bed rest during my two pregnancies, I devoured 3-4 books per week. One of the biggest losses that I have experienced since starting graduate school is the luxury of reading for pure pleasure.
Recently, Tom surprised me with an E Reader for my birthday. I have to say that I was not immediately taken with the gift. Part of the pleasure for me of reading is the ritual of holding the book in my hand. As I am reading I often refer to the inside cover or back of the book for prompts regarding characters or plot. Seeing my progress in a book visually keeps me excited and often leads to late nights when I realize that I only have 1-2 chapters left. Despite the fact that the E reader does not provide me the same tactile and visual experience of a book I have indeed caught the bug of this latest technological gadget.
I opened the gift the night before we were to leave for the lake. This time frame did not allow for me to browse the E Books.com website and purchase any titles prior to our departure, however, much to my surprise the E Reader had come with 100 classics already downloaded and ready to read. On the drive up North I perused the offerings and quickly became engrossed in the novel The Secret Garden.
I quickly realized that each time I turned the E Reader on after a time away, it would magically open to the page that I had been on when I left. I cannot count how many times I have misplaced my bookmark or had it fall out of the book itself. The E Reader renders the bookmark obsolete. The biggest challenge for me in using my E Reader has been the concept of paying for books.
I typically acquire my reading material from the library, friends or family. I can count on two hands the number of books that I have purchased new. The cost of books in electronic format vary widely. I have purchased 4 books thus far ranging in price from $3.99 to $11.99. Though reasonably priced, the costs could certainly add up if I continued to purchase at the rate that I like to read. The ability to identify a book that I want to read and acquire it online within minutes could be my biggest downfall. In addition to hurting me financially, the E Reader has the potential to negatively impact the way in which people, especially women share books.
I lamented to my Kindle carrying sister last night that the popularity of electronic readers could damage the long-held tradition of book swapping. As a means of reassurance my sister handed me the latest book that she had read in it’s lovely, worn, dogeared paper form. As I hold the book in my hands I realize that my E Reader is no substitute for the real thing.