Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eating Humble Pie with a Blue Bird on my Shoulder

On January 1, 2009, I wrote the following:

"Mom, from whom I inherited my Luddite tendencies, recently saw the electronic book at Barnes and Noble and is very excited about it. Huh? This is a woman who fears her computer (which my sister and I bullied her into buying) and is terrified that one wrong click will destroy the thing. But when the electronic books come down in price, she plans on buying one. She has lots of good reasons for this act of heresy, but honestly, I’m not sure what’s gotten into her.

"I see these electronic books as a sign of the coming apocalypse. Books are living things made of paper, glue, thread, boards, cloth, and ink. I love holding them, opening them, smelling them, creating them. I love surrounding myself with them. I love libraries. I love the sound of a new binding cracking and the soft, susurrous whisper of pages turning.

"Pixels and buttons do not give the same sensory satisfaction. They are cold and … electronic. The words on the screen have no permanence, no life. Even George is a tad uncertain about them—he has as many books as I do. I declare, with grave certainty and much kicking and screaming, that I will never, ever have an electronic book.

"I have to draw the line somewhere. Consider it drawn."




I guess it's time to get out my eraser...

'cause that line done been crossed!  
What, you might ask, made me skip merrily over that line? Because merrily I did skip, with a zippity doo-da, zippity aye, into Nook Tablet ownership.
First, the staging consultants who transformed our house into a model home for sale insisted that at least two-thirds of the books on our shelves be boxed up and moved out. Given that eight years ago, the nice military movers hauled 109 boxes of books into our house, and given that in the eight years since then, we added lots of books, this task was overwhelming. As we undertook the back-breaking effort, a little, tiny voice in my head said,
"A Nook doesn't weigh this much."
Second, I've been reading too much about the minimalist movement. While my closet is mostly minimalist, I'm nowhere near ditching all but a hundred items from my home, but I found myself questioning whether or not I really needed all of the hardcover Anne Perry Inspector Monk mysteries, four copies of Pride and Prejudice, and a pile of mass-market paperbacks that I'll never read again. Of course some books are far too precious to ever donate to the library, but still....

Third, you can get magazine subscriptions on the Nook. Magazines are fun to read, but they multiply like dust bunnies in my house, filling shelves, closet floors, and basement boxes with dead trees.

And they are heavy. Oh. My. God. They are heavy.
Fourth, the Nook Tablet is more than an ebook reader. I can get email on it. I can surf the internet. I can watch movies on long trips. I can buy apps for it that do things I don't even know about yet. Most importantly, I can get instant new-book gratification anywhere there's wi-fi, any time, day or night. If I finish reading a book at 1:00AM and want to find a new one, I can buy it from the comfort of my own bed.
Do I need all these things? That would be a big, fat No.
Are they handy and fun to have? Well, yes. Yes, they are.
Now that I've had my Nook for a few weeks, I can say that the sensory vacuum I feared is mostly true. The cover I bought makes my tablet feel sort of like a book, but the fake electronic page-turning sound doesn't come close to the susurrus whisper of paper sliding on paper. There's no smell I can detect, except that of the faux leather cover, which reminds me more of luggage than books.

Perhaps that's not such a badly scented metaphor, however, given that books take you places.

There is an advantage with pricing for older classics in electronic form. A few months ago, after reading the National Geographic article on the King James Version of the Bible, I reached for my copy, only to find that pieces were falling off of it. A trip to Barnes and Noble revealed that a new print copy would cost me more than $70. Since we were buying a new house and I already had about ten different Bibles on my shelves, that seemed excessive. The first book I loaded on my Nook was the KJV...for a mere $4.99. Bargain Bible prices are no reason to buy an electronic reader, but I'm happy that I got to read Luke 2 as it should be read on Christmas Day.

On a MUCH lighter note, I'm catching up on Jasper Fforde's recent addition to the Thursday Next books, which always make me laugh.

So the apocalypse is at hand: Susan has a Nook, a mouthful of humble pie, and a brand new monkey on her back.

But I prefer to think of it as a blue bird on my shoulder.
Zippity doo-da, zippity aye.


  1. Oh Yes! Susan, To everything you said, I felt the same, nothing would or could replace my (MY) books but I too succumbed and I love my Kindle :0 Gay xx

  2. Oh my word...this is ME! I SWORE I'd never get one, and my DH is planning on getting me one because I've caved! Let us bind together and never look back...until we need a real book, and then we'll pick one up and smell it, and turn the pages, and we'll have fabulous reminiscences. :)

  3. My sister really did not want one either but is enjoying her Kindle for the same reasons you mentioned. My older daughter reads constantly and I mentioned to my son-in-law that he might want to consider a Kindle for her Christmas gift but he had already asked her about one and she said pretty much the same things you said before you got one. The feel. The smell. Having her favorite ones setting on the shelves, stuffed full with other favorite ones. I still think she would like one. For all the reasons you mentioned after you got yours. Maybe for her 50th birthday in June. She fought the idea of an iPhone, too, for a couple years and now that she has one she's on it as much as the rest of us. Oh, and thanks for the new words - Luddites (interesting) and that swishing word you used. Love it.

  4. I'm getting a Kindle Fire for my b-day and about 10 days and can't wait! Only down fall is they are not available in Canada yet so can't download any apps until it is, but books, oh yes. There are a lot of free books out there too you can down load. Welcome to the wild side ;)

  5. Lovin' my Kindle; I wasn't sure how quickly you'd join the e-book thing, given how you actually owned the books you read. Since I used to borrow from the library and rarely bought, I take great pleasure in knowing only my hands (and germs) grace the plastic shell that contains Tolstoy, the Bible, Anne Bronte's works to name a few. Speaking of the Bible, I'm surprised you had to purchase it. All the versions on the Kindle were free as are almost all out of print books (which tend to be my favorites!). So happy for your e-book ownership!

  6. Well done! I have been waiting for this for a long time and enjoyed your Description of the humble pie. Hope it is a tasty treat. Reading Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy on my Christmas present (brightly lit and bought from bed)

  7. Glad you joined the group! I bought my Kindle originally for a trip I was planning. I read a great deal as I travel and I didn't want to pack books and then what do I do with them when I finish! Someone said that travel books are so useful when they are on an e-reader. I love my e-reader. I take it everywhere, when I am waiting for an appointment, when a meeting hasn't started yet, my nose is in my Kindle. I still read the odd paper book but that seems to be happening less and less.

  8. My daughter bought a Sony E-Reader some time ago from Wal-Mart, because she works there and gets her employee discount. I have borrowed it and like the ease of use. I now think I would like a Kindle Fire-have a birthday in February (will be 73).

    Enjoy your gadget!

  9. I'm a retired librarian and never thought I'd use an e-reader but I caved too! I went on a month-long trip to Europe in the fall and kept thinking about the weight of the four or five novels I'd need to take to get through plane/train rides, evenings in hotels, etc. And then I saw a Kobo (preferable up here in Canada as it allows downloads of e-books from the public library, which the Kindle won't do) on sale and I made an impulsive purchase. So my five novels weighed less than 6 ounces and took up a minute amount of space in my luggage. And now I'm home, I'm finding myself reading most of my books in paper form but if there's a huge waiting list at the library, I cave and buy it for my e-reader!

  10. Oh, Susan, I hear you. I haven't yet bought an electronic book reader, but I look at them with envy for their convenience and size. I always thought I would stick with my paper books FOREVER, but I've been converted. It is only a matter of time...

  11. Hmmm, I think I am still a bit behind you. I can't quite make the stretch to reading in bed at night with that artificial light shining in my face. i have never been great at reading from a computer and had to transcribe all my online Uni notes. I am getting old ....

  12. I'm so happy that you're enjoying your e-reader. Especially the part about electronic books weighing so much less. We haven't moved in over ten years, and I'm dreading the thought of ever having to move all of the books again. I love my Kindle to pieces. The only thing that I've found slightly disappointing about owning a Kindle is that it's kind of spoiled the fun of bookstore browsing for me. I look and look but can't seem to want to bring home more dead trees. I also forget what book I've read more easily when I read it on the Kindle. I think it's because all of my books look alike now - I don't see the book cover and feel the weight of the book every day while I'm reading it. But I wouldn't trade the convenience for anything!

  13. Good news, ladies! If your public library has Overdrive's collection of e-books, you can now download books for both Kindle and Nook. ipad is a bit more dicey, but getting better all the time. I am not there with the e-book yet, but retirement looms, and then I probably will do that!

  14. All is not lost....some books aren't available on e-readers (yet) so we're still required (for a little while) to buy actual paper books. Plus, I still purchase used paper books...I'm thrifty enough that paying the full price for an e-book irks me. And I'll NEVER part with my paper copy of certain favorites...what if the world does end and I can't access Mr. Darcy on my Nook? Yikes!

  15. I, too, avoided the Kindles, Nooks and all other ereaders for quite some time. I love the feel, smell and sound of a real book. However, I received a NookColor as a Christmas present last year and completely LOVE it. I still patronize my local library for my "real book fixes", but I love the Nook to "try" new authors. I've signed up for a few site that offer free ebooks. That is what I basically read on the Nook. I am addicted to playing games, tho. Let's hear it for Angry Birds!!!

    I love your blogs AND your card making talent. I have "borrowed" quite a few ideas from you!!!


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!