Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Paper or Plastic?

Do you read e-Books?
If so, how? On your computer, or a PDA?
Or are you a paper purist? Why?

While wandering amongst the booths at the L.A. Times Festival of Books last year, a representative with Sony stopped me to ask if I would like to check out the company's latest hand held reading device. It had not yet been released on the market, but the company was getting a head start by sharing the product with passersby in hopes of making future sells. I was not buying that day, but my curiosity was piqued. The gadget was amazingly easy to read, the size of a mass market paperback novel, and the font could be adjusted for the reader's comfort. The screen was backlit for easy viewing as well. The Sony rep explained that the machine could hold 75 books at one time. My first thought was how easy that would make traveling and vacations. I could have 75 books to choose from! No need to stuff my suitcase full or take an extra bag full of paper books making everything more heavy. No more trying to guess at what will interest me later in the week, hoping the limited books I take with me are all worth reading. Ah! But the real test . . . How fast can I move from page to page? Not fast enough. At least not a year ago. I avoided stopping at the booth this year to see what further advances were made. Somehow I doubt the focus would be on the speed the pages can be changed.

Sitting in front of a computer to read a book off the screen holds no interest for me, although occasionally you might catch me reading a short story that way. I'd be more likely to want to print a copy so that I can travel around the house or go on outings with the printed pages. That is perhaps why an e-reader is so much more appealing.

I am not a true paper purist. I can see myself at some time in the future with a hand held reading device like that Sony Reader. However, that time is probably a long way off. I first must work my way through my current TBR collection. Then there is the little problem of selection. Not all of the books I would be interested in reading come in electronic form. Perhaps in twenty years when I am ready to consider getting such a reader, all books will be published in both formats and my TBR stack will be more manageable. I will be older and wanting to travel lighter.

Still, nothing can replace the feel of a book in my hands as I hold it and turn the pages as I read. Nothing compares to the crisp scent of a new book or the musty smell of an old one. And where else will my darling cat rest his paw or use the corner of my book to scratch his ear when I'm reading in bed? He would surely miss swatting at the dangling tassle of my bookmark. I know I would miss those moments too.


  1. I have to hand it to you for being willing to use a Sony Reader. I feel like I lose an element of the experience by e-reading...but I appreciate it at the same time.

  2. I never thought about page turning speed, that's an interesting point. I guess when you are really into a book and can't wait to read the next page it could be a problem.

    I am like you in the smelling of books department. My cats usually try and eat the corners of books as I a reading them, they don't like my attention to be on something that isn't them when they are in need of stroking!

  3. Hi Wendy,

    I definitely share your sentiment. I love the smell of books, yummy... One of the reasons I love visiting bookstores is for that. Getting 'showered' by the books... the smell... Such bliss!

    I've used a Sony PDA (CLIE) and loaded a few ebooks on it. I am not really fond of using it though. I sold it about 2 years ago.

    Happy BTT!

  4. My eyes hurt if I spend too much time looking at the computer -- but if I could find a good eBook reader? I'd be okay with it...

    Mine's up, too!

  5. I'm in agreement with you on this one, Wendy. I hope e-books NEVER take the place of the real thing. I love the heft of a book in my hands, the coziness of snuggling under a blanket with a good book - a computer might be a bit bulky for that! I don't really like the idea of a Sony reader, except for traveling (the idea of taking a library with me on vacation is appealing!)

  6. I tried the Sony eReader at Borders last month and had the very same experience. The screen contrast was lovely but the page turning time took too long and it flashed black every time I clicked to turn the page, which drove me crazy. I thought the unit was malfunctioning but, after reading your post, I guess not!

  7. I never thought about turning the pages.

    And selection: Yes, I imagine it the bestsellers would make it on to e-books first.

  8. I think the slow page turning would drive me nuts on the Sony device especially since I sometimes like to go back a few pages (or more) to reread a section that suddently seems to have new importance.

    My cat likes to scratch his ears on my book as well. At first I thought he was just weird, but I guess it must be a "cat thing".

  9. I'm a paper book purist, although I can imagine that in 10 years, there will be a totally kick-ass e-book screen that will be easy to use, quick and able to store as many books as we want. I do like the idea of traveling with one, because the suitcase can get rather heavy with books (I just got back from Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha with four new books and my carryon was a tad heavy to lift up into the overhead compartment).

  10. It does occur to me that an e-book reader would be good on vacation - not for the books I want to read, but for the guide-books! Maps, restaurants, sights - all on a slim little gadget.

    Thanks for visiting Tea Reads!

  11. Love being on the computer, but e-books are not for me. Have to feel it, smell the pages, look at the cover. That is as much a part of the reading experience as is the story.

  12. I like using the computer and reading the odd very short story on a site, but I still prefer proper books :) I enjoyed reading your BTT (I've yet to see a Sony Reader LOL)

    My answer can be found here

  13. That is sweet, Kitty. I agree with you. I tried reading a book off my computer screen, and it just wasn't the same. Like you said, though, short stories are okay (very short).

  14. I guess I am a paper purist. I would much rather have a book in my hand. But that's just me!!

  15. I think it's all about being able to touch the pages and curl up with it;-)

  16. I agree about the Sony Reader - it looks so very cool, but the page turning time is way too slow (or the pages on the screen are too small maybe). Someday I think it would be great, especially for short paperback books.

  17. I'm not so much a paper purist as it's just the easiest/fastest way to read so far. I do love the idea of the backlit words.

    Have you ever noticed how some authors churn out dozens of novels while you wait impatiently for THE ONE you want to read next?

    And just to be the annoying word person (and because I do it myself) the word should be piqued and not peaked. Mean homonyms.

  18. Hi Wendy, I agree that nothing beats the feel and smell of a book. Moreover staring at those little words on screen too much gives me headaches. I guess I'm considered as 'old-fashioned' when it comes to reading, hehe.

    Happy BTT!

  19. It looks like the vote is in and I will add mine to it: there is nothing like a true paper book. I think the future will hold e-books for most people, but I will probably be long gone by then. In the meantime, just give me the smell and feel of a REAL book.

  20. I just saw something on the news about e-books replaceing books and it reminded me of your post. The anchors final thoughts were that we would never get rid of tangible books in lieu of e-books.

  21. Thank you all for stopping in and commenting!

    Betty Jane - I don't know if the book format will ever go the way of videos tapes to DVD's or eight tracks to CD's and MP3s. It's hard to believe it would, but I suppose you never know. I think I'll always have a fondness for paper books, but I'm flexible to change if need be. Got to have my reading fix no matter what. :-)

    Rhinoa - I hate being left hanging in the middle of a sentence, especially when I'm sitting on the edge of my seat. Someone else mentioned sometimes going back and re-reading a sentence or section, and I find I do that too now and then.

    My cat likes to try and eat the corners now and then too. LOL I think he prefers chomping on the corners of my husband's treasured comic books and graphic novels though. Drives my husband nuts. I've become a master of one handed reading so I can appease the cat with pets, but that doesn't always work when the book is a big one.

    Alice - I think if I read off a PDA, it would have to be big enough to make it comfortable for me to read off the screen. I worry that most of the devices are too small, but then I haven't looked into what's out there enough to really know for sure. Besides, I just think I'm not ready to move that far forward in technology just yet.

    Marianne - Yes! That's it exactly. My eyes start hurting and I get a headache if I focus too long on a computer screen. I think I could do a eBook reader though, if it's a good one.

    Wendy - I hope that paper books do not go out of style either. I do think an e-reader would be a good addition when traveling, but I wouldn't want to invest in one unless I knew it would be put to good use. Now isn't that time.

    Conspiracy-Girl - It doesn't sound like the page changing function has improved. That's probably not something the manufacturers put much thought into. They should come talk to me.

    Chris - The speed of turning pages and the ease in doing so can be very significant to me. :-)

    Daphne - Another ear scratcher! Haha

    I have heard the "find" feature for some PDA's and reader type devices can come in handy, but it's not the same. I sometimes like to go back and re-read a passage or sentence too.

    Karen - As an author, I imagine seeing your book in print is quite a feeling of accomplishment. I'm in no hurry to change formats, but if it must happen, I'll follow along. As my grandmother used to say, "I gotta have my stories."

    Teabird - Now there's an idea! Maybe that reader can come with GPS too!

    Carl V. - Yes, I think there's a lot more to the enjoyment of reading than just the words on the page.

  22. I'm amazed at the fact that so many people said the same thing about being able to hold and feel a printed book. Reading the comments to my answer and the answers of other people has caused me to think about the question some more, and I've written a slightly longer post on my blog about it. It's here if your interested in reading it:

    Looking forward to reading more of your BTT answers!

  23. Meowminx and Kookie - Yes! Very short stories! Otherwise, I hope it's printable!

    Stephanie - I prefer print books too, but I try and stay open to new technology. There's something appealing about being able to travel light and still have 75 or so books available to read at any given moment.

    Kristy - Print books do have their charms!

    JanieJane - I don't know how people read things off their tiny cell phone screens . . . I do like the idea of a Sony Reader, but I think I'd like to see it evolve more before I consider investing in one.

    Carrie K - You make a very good point about print books being the easiest and fastest way to read. I will go wherever the books are, whether it be by electonic or paper means.

    Yes! I have noticed how some of my favorite authors are slower when it comes to getting books out. Although it tests my patience no end, I try and remember that sometimes quality takes time to create. I would rather they take the time to write a great novel than put out a mediocre one because one or two a year is the thing to do.

    Please do correct me if you notice I've misused a word or spelled something wrong! Thank you for pointing out my error!

    Melody - From most of the responses, I think many of us are old fashioned in our preference for printed word. :-)

  24. VioletLady - Always good to see you stopping in! Perhaps e-books will be the thing of the future, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. :-) What do I know though? Haha

    Kelly - I'm not inclined to think print books will be overtaken by e-books, but I hesitate to make such a bold statement. I remember when the same thing was said about cassettes and videos tapes. Still, I think books have a much longer history and tradition, and so I tend to agree with the authors of that article you read.

    Matthew - I just got back from reading your longer response. Points well made and oh so true.

  25. I've never tried an e-reader, so I don't know how I'd feel about that, and I'm definitely not a "paper purist", since I'm hooked on Audio books. That said, I think the sentimentality of holding a paper book is just something that for those of us who are "readers" and take great pleasure in reading, we'll never be able to give that up completely, no matter what they invent. ;-)

  26. Hey, you changed your look! Love it!

    I enjoyed your answer. I'm a paper girl; I can imagine myself reading off a hand-held device but I can't imagine thoroughly enjoying it.

  27. Karina - So true. I really haven't gotten into audio books because they just don't fit into my lifestyle right now, but I imagine someday I'll give them a try.

    Nancy - Thanks. I could see myself getting used to reading off a hand held device if was a good one. Still, I'm stubborn and will keep making excuses about why I have to stick with print books for now. LOL

  28. I'm a paper purist. I'm not into electronics at all. I rather hold a paper book in my hands,and smell the scent of a new book. E-books are not for me. I can't imagine myself enjoying them as much as paper books.

  29. I like holding books, but have to admit that I'm reading more and more off screens. I also use an ipod to "listen" to books while at the gym, driving, etc.

  30. N.Vasillis - "not into electronics at all" - Except for computer use when it comes to blogging? :-) I guess I'm just the kind of person who never says never. As I've said, I do prefer paper books, but I won't limit myself to them if there's an e-book I just have to read.

    Sage - My husband is considering giving me an iPod as a gift, but I'm not really sure when I would use it. :-( Listening to books wouldn't be practical for me, but maybe music . . .

  31. Hi! I'm visiting for the first time as part of the blogroll game. I much prefer woodchip paper to screen any day. I know some people don't approve but I like to dogear corners to remind me of passages I loved, and write in the margins too, and you can't do that on a screen!

  32. I really am more of a paper purist myself (I don't even like reading journal articles from the computer screen), but I do like audio books - they're great for long car trips.

    I discovered your blog through Dewey's Blogroll Game - what a great idea! I have to admit that I'm one of those horrible people who blogs, but has trouble getting around to read other people's blogs so the game is a nice push for me.

  33. Hi -

    So sorry for posting this late, but I just want to say how much I agree with you on your take with e-books and papers. I am too a paper person, for the same reason you mention. I guess the majority of us are *grin*

    Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you had a nice day!

  34. Thanks for stopping by litlove! I hope you will come again. Don't worry, I won't beat you up for dogearing or writing in your books. :-) I've been known to dogear when I have no other choice and I sometimes write in the margins too, although always in pencil. :-)

    Karen! - Thanks for visiting! I've been known to print articles out too to read them. It's so much easier.

    Julia - It's never too late to drop in. :-)

  35. Great post Wendy! I have to admit I am a paper purist at the moment but only because books are so handy to carry around. However, if I could download books onto my cell phone I would be very willing to do so. They are doing it in Japan at the moment so it won't be long before it gets here. Perhaps it is here already and I not aware of it? Oh, and I love audio books too!


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