05 January 2012

A Bookworm on Books

E-readers seem to be the new "thing." I'll admit, I've been in on my fair share of fads in my life and I do own an e-reader - albeit an out of date one that I was given for free. I do appreciate my e-reader and I love having it, don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not going to get rid of it or anything foolish like that. However, a neighbor recently got an e-reader (new, brand name) for Christmas. Because she has the e-reader, she seems to have given up on the idea of paper-and-glue books. This baffles me.

Yes, an e-reader is light, but unless you're reading a biology textbook for fun, a book can't be all that heavy. Yes, e-readers are well lit and portable, but that big ball of fire in the sky can illuminate paper as well as it illuminates electrical devices. Call me a purist, if you like. I prefer the term bookworm. I have books on my e-reader that I do not own in print. This does save me money, but looking at my personal library, I know I'm not ready to add much. I'm already taking home a trash bag full of books (also free gifts; can't wait to get into them!) and, as such, can see where the e-reader will be taking up a lot less space in my car and on my crowded bookshelves. Those are two benefits of e-readers I can't deny - they do save money and take up less space.

Still, there are times when I want to really live the story with the characters and you can't always do that with an e-reader. A prime example is my e-reader copy vs. my printed copy of Watership Down. There are footnotes in the book, designed to explain aspects of Lapine life as the author has developed them. In the e-reader copy, these footnotes are contained where the page ends in the hard copy. What does this mean? You're reading and you come across an unfamiliar phrase, but in the e-book copy you can't find an explanation of the phrase until you hit the end of the printed page, which may not happen for another screen. The footnotes appear in the middle of the narrative, in some cases. This just makes for awkward reading.

Another example of awkward e-reader reading is when I'll run across a typo. Well, not a typo. It's more like two words were accidentally jammed together. I have to go back and re-read to figure out which words I'm supposed to be reading. This breaks the narrative and interrupts my reading - do not want!

As I said at the beginning of this blog entry, I do like my e-reader. I enjoy the ease of reading - when I don't run across an amalgamated typo - and I like that I can read multiple books at once. I like having the e-reader, but it has its place. I don't see an electronic device ever replacing my books. I mean, when's the last time you had to plug a book in to charge it before you could continue reading?