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.