Last week I shared my thoughts on audiobooks. Today I've tried to corral my complex emotions regarding ebooks, specifically my latest toy, Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch.
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But the tipping point struck last summer, when I hauled five books overseas for a vacation, and yet still ran out. An ereader had to be more convenient.
Indeed, my Nook has definitely added a richness to my reading life. For example, for my recent diversity series (Anne Reads Books By & About People Different from Her), a majority of the books I've read are American, and as yet unpublished in the UK (I was able to purchase them through my Nook, as it's connected to an American bookstore (Barnes & Noble). Of course this opens a whole other can of worms about copyright and regions. While I have strong opinions on the topic, I'm not exactly knowledgable, so I'll leave those discussions to the experts). For years I've relied on infrequent trips back to the US and the Book Depository to access American books, so book availability alone has been a huge plus for me.
As an avid reader, I'm also happy to report that my Nook is comfortable. It's thinner than a book, so not only does it fit into even my smallest purse (barely!), it's also easier to hold (some of those hefty hardcovers can get awfully tiring to prop up!). And it's true what everyone says about e-Ink. My Nook doesn't feel like a computer screen, it doesn't tax my eyes.
So I love it, right? Well... this is where things get a little complex. While there's a lot of things I love about it, and while I'll certainly use it regularly, it hasn't yet won my heart over.
Part of the problem is that I've grown up with books, and my love for books is definitely in part physical and sensory. I love the smell of books, touching pages, even a hardback's unwieldy heft. So while my Nook is comfortable, and easy to read (I can even change the font and type-size), it doesn't yet have the same magic as book reading for me. And there's things I can do with a book that aren't as easily accomplished with my Nook. For example, flipping pages. How many pages until the end of the chapter? Wait, how did Part I end again? Let me check that glossary in the back... The Nook has a search feature, and I can bring up the Table of Contents with a single click. Yet, going back to my original place gets tricky. I suppose I could bookmark my spot anytime I want to flip, then un-bookmark the spot when I return... it all seems much more tedious than just sticking a finger in my current spot, though.
Also, there's something about the Nook books that makes them feel less accessible. Perhaps because all my titles are hidden away on a hard drive, and can't been seen at a glance at my (real life) bookshelf, I keep forgetting I own all the books I've bought, and that I can consult them and outline them just as I do the "real" books on my shelves.
But of course, these are little things... in time I'll figure out better tricks, and become more accustomed to my Nook. And of course the technology will get better. Just last week I figured out how to check the time on my Nook while in the midst of reading. And already I wish that feature were available in paperbacks! Not to mention the single-touch dictionary feature!
Speaking of technology, I'd love a way to share ebooks, just as I share paperbacks (I understand that's in the works, although with much dispute between publishers and booksellers). I'd love a way to mark-up pdfs (for critiquing others' writing, or analyzing my own). And the black and white, grainy covers are depressing! I know I bought the cheapest Nook possible, in black and white, but surely the publishing industry can figure out a way to still let readers enjoy beautiful cover art. Likewise, I've already encountered one ebook, by a small but well-known publisher, that was incorrectly formatted. Shameful and embarrassing! Especially considering I paid $10 for the book.
I realize I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said many times before about ereaders. But it's definitely been interesting experiencing all of this for myself. And I'm eager to hear from you. How much do you love your ereader? How long did it take for you to get used to it? Or, if you haven't taken the plunge yet, what's holding you back?