Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 27 - Random Thoughts on e-Reading

  1. I realize that I'm a late adopter.  I finally got a Kindle in February, when I had a long business trip planned, and I have to say, I like reading on the Kindle much more than I expected to.
  2. This might not have happened if Borders hadn't gone out of business.  Barnes & Noble is fine, but Borders was my neighborhood bookstore.  I almost never go to Redmond Town Center any more, and it used to be at least a weekly stop for me. 
  3. One of the reasons I made the leap is for the variety of electronic ARCs that are available, prompted in large part by the Avon Addicts program, and also by NetGalley.
  4. Another reason is that I recognize that many books are just not always going to be out in print.  Up until recently, I was willing to assume that books that went to e-pub only were books I wouldn't mind passing on anyway.  That is rapidly changing, and some of my favorite authors are releasing early in e-pub and making the dead-tree readers wait. 
  5. Long ago when I read things like The One Minute Manager and The Goal, I stumbled on a book called In the Age of the Smart Machine, which talks about how the daily work that humans do to feed themselves has been abstracted from hunting game and grinding corn, through various levels of remove, until today when many of us sit in cubicles and, at its most basic level, what we do is manipulate pixels - so far removed from producing something to eat that it's almost boggling.  I found it pretty fascinating and I think the e-readers are another leap of abstraction that I'm not sure I like in principle.  (I recommend the book by the way, if the topic of "why do people do what they do for a paycheck" interests you).
  6. Now, paper ARCs sometimes have some formatting issues, but man, when problems appear in electronic format, they tend to be pervasive and it's very very distracting.  I had one where every time there was a word with "fl-" in it - like floor, flirt, flavor, flew - it showed up with a space between the f and the l.  So "f loor" and "f lirt" etc.  And bad line wraps too.  I hope the final copies are better.  And some of the converted PDFs are really bad with tiny print and very wide spacing.  By the time I get the font large enough to read, there's an inch between the lines.  Complaints, I have them.
  7. I'm finding myself much more prone to reading multiple books at once - or rather, starting another book before finishing the last one (or two, or three).  Having ALL THE BOOKS in my hand all the time makes it easy to skip from one book to another depending on my mood. I am not sure this is a good thing.
  8. I am disoriented without the physical thickness of the book.  I finished one e-book which was a very quick read for me and started to write up the review calling it a novella.  When I double-checked the description on Amazon, it says it's 250 pages long.  I guess that's about category length?  It's, I guess, a corollary of the idea that time flies when you're having fun - that a book will seem longer or shorter depending on how engrossed I am.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, as I have traditionally been a big fan a nice fat juicy book.
  9. All of which add up to telling me that the physical part of the reading experience is/was important to me in ways I didn't completely understand until it changed. I'm still mulling this over.
  10. On the other hand, the purchasing experience, which I thought I wouldn't like, has been terrific.  Don't get me wrong, I will never stop loving a browse through a good bookstore, but I love that I can get to the end of a book that rocked my world, and 2 minutes later have another book by that author queued up and ready to read.  It really takes "instant gratification" to a whole new level.
  11. Social media is pretty dangerous for my TBR list.  Since I joined Twitter about the same time I got the Kindle, I keep seeing tweets about Kindle freebies and 99-cent specials and whatnot, and I'm all "heyyyy free is good!" and 3 minutes later I have another book in my library.  I'm not sure I'm being very discriminating these days.
  12. E-Book pricing is mystifying.  I know better than to think that an e-book has no production cost - besides the time and effort of the people who helped create the content itself, I have a passing familiarity with what it takes to build the kind of infrastructure that Amazon's purchasing and storage functions rest on, and it is most decidedly not free.  And I want authors to make a fair return on their creation.  And I respect that art is not the same as manufacturing a product.  All that said, I'm not likely to spend more than $8 or $9 on a book, electronic or no.  I'm still willing to hunt down a used physical copy or a library book if the price point is above my comfort level.
  13. I'm less of a "keeper-shelf" person than many dedicated readers/bloggers.  I rarely go for the re-reads, and have kept very few mass market paperbacks for the long term.  I tend to cycle them through the used bookstores to share the love and stretch my budget.  (There isn't really a used-book-trade-in analog for an ebook.)   But for books that DO make me want to own them forever: those, I will purchase again, preferably in hardback.  Because I have music that I have purchased in 3 or 4 formats, and I have no illusions that some years down the road, I will no longer be able to read these e-books on this or any other device.  And I figure that dead tree books are a more persistent medium than most any electronic format.

Find more Thirteeners at Thursday-13.  Participants are welcome and encouraged to leave links in comments.


I am Harriet said...

Since I got my reader, I really only download books these days,

have a great t-13!

Alice Audrey said...

I want page numbers in the corner so I can tell how far into the book I've read, and how much room the author has left to tie up loose ends.

Nicola O. said...

Alice, me too! The percentages can be way off if there are samplers at the end for other books.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

It's funny that you say you were a late adopter because I THOUGHT I was going to be an EARLY (relatively) adopter as I was among the first to get on board with Nook (my Christmas present from my in-laws was a certificate that I would be receiving mine as soon as the first shipment sailed out that coming January!) but then I couldn't do it! I hate that I can't but as green as I am in the rest of my life, I just can't do without my paper books!

Shelley Munro said...

The page number thing always throws me a bit too, but I do like ebooks. I hardly ever buy paper books now.

Nicola O. said...

Pam, I still like regular books; I doubt I'll give them up entirely. If nothing else, my TBR pile should last me several years! Plus, they never run out of batteries and they don't have to be turned off during takeoff and landing.

Shelley, it's not just the page number, it's the heft of the pages on the right vs. the ones on the left. Muscle memory stuff. Or something like that.

Lindsay said...

I've had some of the same problems. I find myself reading mostly e-books but when my favorite authors come out with a new one I still get the paper edition so that I can dog-ear my fav pages and make notes in the margins.

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