In my normal, everyday life nothing is sacred. I enjoy shattering taboos, casting tradition to the wind, and disregarding sentiment. I am also a fan of the digital age and replacing outdated practices with new technology. So, it is always a big surprise when my friends find that I am a complete and utter romantic when it comes to the written word.
I love books. I love how they smell, how they feel in my hands, how the pages creak in reaction to my ceaseless turning. I love cover art, and clever titles, and unbroken spines. My library tells it’s own story about who I am, who I’ve been, and who I long to be. If you take a book from one of my shelves and flip through it you will find notes, and underlines, and dog-earred pages. You will find whatever I was using as a book mark whenever I finished that journey, whether it was a dollar, a receipt, or a torn plane ticket. And if you flip to the back cover, you will find my name, neatly signed with the date which I read the last page. These are my most prized possessions. My story, made up of the great stories of others.
In our current age of eBook readers and iBook applications, my love of technology and my romantic attachment to physical books is threatening to shatter my reality. I have avoided the internet ads displaying each new version of the Kindle, and I have politely skipped over blog posts regarding B&N’s Nook. I even restrained myself to minimal comments regarding Apple’s entrance into the eReader game with their iPad, but in June I bought the new iPhone. In a matter of 2 weeks someone had convinced me to download the iBook Application to “see how cool it looked.”
It began innocently enough. I skimmed the first few pages of the demo book “Winnie the Pooh” and scrolled through their selection of Free eBooks. “How can you read on this tiny screen?” I asked myself. “The contrast is all wrong, my head would hurt!” I shrugged and and closed the app, thinking I had successfully closed the issue.
A few days later I was browsing the Barnes and Nobel application for the iPhone and looking for interesting reads. Upon finding none that caught my eye I thought, “I bet there’s a good list of books in the iBooks app,” so I tapped my home button and found Apple’s cute little open book icon. Thumbing down the page for a track stopping title, I notice the “Get Sample” button. What a great idea! I bit… and followed the link into the first chapter of “Eat, Love, Pray.”
About 90 iPhone sized pages in, I stopped. Holy Crap! Here I was eating my way through pages digitally!
I have been hooked every since. I am reading constantly now. Long red light? 5 pages. Elevator ride? 2 pages. Waiting in line at the drive through? 8 pages. The convenience of having my book in my hand at all times is beginning to rival the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I stand in front of my bookshelf. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not giving up dead tree books completely. The fact that not all books are available in eBook form gives me an excuse to switch back and forth, making this transition slow, and keeping my pangs of guilt at bay… at least most of them.
So there it is. I’m practically a convert. There are plenty of logical reasons to go to eBooks: the saved paper, the ease of purchase, and the entry to the new “cool” kids club. For me, though, it is by far the convenience of being able to devour language at an alarming rate anywhere and anytime I feel like it.