My first time: reading an e-book

29 January 2013

I have been toying with the idea of buying an e-reader for a while now. Initially I wanted one to help me manage and annote research papers, but the internet tells me that e-readers are not great for that kind of thing.  So I came off the idea. Still,  I almost, almost bought one last week. I did not do it in the end, because I am reluctant to read on screen. I spend too much time in front of the computer as it is and an e-reader would not help matters. I am also a person who literally likes to stick there nose in a book and take in the smell of cheap paper, glossy paper, old faded paper, fresh ink, remnants of solvents (oh, I go for those 🙂  ). Another argument against it is that in my experience electronic gadgets have a shelf life of a few years. Does it make sense to fork out 100+Euros for a thing that might only work for four years?  And there is the tying yourself to a company like Amazon and giving them access to your device… So as yet no e-reader in the Heckemann household.

But the thought sticks in my head. How on earth did it get to be so obstinate, persistent and hard to eradicate? I always thought that I don’t easily fall prey to lifestyle products, but on the contrary, my case is worse: Easy prey, yet late adopter. How uncool is that?

So I am still undecided, but I thought that I should at least give e-readers a try. So at the weekend I bought my first e-book which I am now reading on my Mac. Quite aptly  it’s Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore, a book about real books, old books, e-readers, Google and a secret cult. This is a novel that I have been wanting to stick my nose into for a few months.

Now I am just reading it, not smelling it. So far the experience is ok. I can read easily on screen, the print is nice, obviously I can fiddle with the background and font size. Turning pages by pressing buttons feels odd, but it’s just a matter of getting used to, I guess.

This experience has again fed the “e-read-weed” in my head.  My cunning brain  has now convinced me that an e-reader could be of use to me after all: To store those novels that I like, consume and that, as hard copies, afterwards occupy shelf space waiting to be passed on to someone else. Alas, they often do not get passed on. So basically  I am (yet again) responding to the argument that by buying a product I can make my life and living space less cluttered and more organized. This is just like Ikea catalogues work!!! (And yes, just think about the imminent move! All those boxes full of books that could be avoided). So much for my free will that somewhat does not feel too free at present :). I’ll keep on pondering for a few days and see if the “e-read-weed” shrivels up and dies a natural death or whether the only cure is to buy yet another gadget to simplify my life.

Enjoy whatever you’re reading!

PS: If you are planning to read Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore, do it within the next couple of years! It is a cool book and it provides a snapshot of the current state of art in computing as well as on social interaction and a few other things. It will read weird and dated though in ten years time… and our grand-children will marvel at the funny things they did back in the second decade of this millenium  🙂

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