Friday, April 13, 2012

"I Do Not Read Ebooks"...Ouch!

I’m always sad when people tell me in no uncertain terms, “I do not read e-books!” I understand the passion and can even sympathize with those who love the smell, the look, the colorful covers, the generous margins that call for marginalia and my greatest loss, page numbers, all the familiars that come with print books.

 I also empathize with those speedy readers whose thumbs wear out pressing the side buttons to advance to another page. Then there’s the annoying factor of recharging or connection loss. Once, my Kindle wouldn’t allow me to browse. On another occasion my “click to buy” option took three days to appear on my Home page.

Still, e-books are here and despite glitches are incredibly convenient while book stores are closing as we speak. First we experienced the demise of independent book stores followed by Borders in the U.S. and Waterstones in Europe. Barnes and Nobles still exists where I live, but their print sales are disappointing while their e-book sales have made more than a few authors gasp before cheering.

When people tell me they refuse to read e-books, I’m reminded of the movie, “The Artist.” The poor man is stuck in the role of silent film star while the world moves on to “talkies.” Our hero loses his wife, his home, his reputation and nearly his life until a woman who embraced the inevitable steps in to help him out. I wonder if radio enthusiasts lambasted television, or vinyl record fans refused to purchase cds.

Personally, I love my flip phone, but I recognize that it must go in favor of a device that combines a computer, the Internet and both video and movie cameras. The contract expense is what stops me, that and the knowledge that my learning curve may cause missed information and lost calls while I’m familiarizing myself with new technology.

I’m no stranger to technology. Computers are used in my classroom and in the computer lab. Thanks to the Saddleback Valley Unified School District’s commitment to technology, I have a Smart Board and an Ipad. My 35 students were also recently outfitted with Ipods. They, I might add, are learning the ropes much more quickly than I. I’m still confused about apps, free and not so free, and wondering how moving from step one to two and so on seems to come so naturally to people under the age of 22 while I continue to struggle. I persevere because I remember the early computer days, how difficult they were and how simple managing a laptop is today.

E-readers are without exception the easiest form of technology available and maybe the cheapest. Using an e-reader does not exclude anyone from purchasing print books while they last. They won’t last long. Book stores will eventually be obsolete. Libraries, in an effort to curb the incredible expense of maintaining print books will eventually offer only e-books and it will happen overnight, as quickly as video stores disappeared from our planet, as easily as people turned from newspapers to online reports. Without an e-reader, readers will be limited to those writers who occupy the top 8 slots in grocery stores and in airports.

Yes, I’m sad. I love books, real books. But I’m a reader and on a cold, rainy night, I still want to turn on my reading lamp, curl up by the fire and read. Even if it isn’t a real book, the words and the story are the same and isn’t that what it’s really about?

That said, NELL is just out in print and e-book format as is THE RECKONING and TUESDAY's CHILD.

WITCH WOMAN remains an e-book.