10 July, 2013

Got Over It

Making the shift to ebooks and the various ereader hardware and software wasn't necessarily the easiest transition I've ever had to make. There is something comforting and warm about holding a traditional, real book in your hands while feasting on its printed pages.

The texture, touch and feel of ereaders, their awkward rigidity and weight - all was something that took getting used to.

My first ereader a Sony, since dead and dissected (to see how it was made), was cold to the touch, didn't bend like a paperback would, and didn't have the comfort that a hard bound book was able to provide. It did, however, hold a veritable library of books, manuals, and magazines. It was also able to read PDFs, so I was able to store most of the manuals for all sorts of appliances, devices, tools, gadgets, and whatnot. Even though it contained a whole library, the weight of the thing never seemed to increase.

Eventually, I was able to become very comfortable using the Sony. I managed to find a comfortable way of holding it that allowed me to conduct the marathon reading sessions that I've loved since my youth.

As with real books, the ePrint screen wasn't back-lit, which meant that unless you were reading by light provided by a table or bedside lamp, or other external illumination, you were SOL as far as being able to read the Sony in the dark.

Then things began to change, and not for the better. The screen began to fade out. Early ePrint screens apparently needed some more development. I did manage to get a warranty replacement unit from Sony, but over time, it too faded and died.

Well, that was the end of the Sony. For a while I was relegated to doing my reading either on-screen on my laptop, a singularly uncomfortable and unnatural way of reading for anything much other than a page or two at a time. Certainly not made for the aforementioned marathon sessions.

My friend Doug came back from a trip up north to Canada with a new iPod Touch. I was intrigued. It seemed to have a lot of capability. I even got to play with it once or twice for a few minutes. Hmmm. I grew more interested.

Eventually, I ordered one for myself. After fumbling around for a bit, I discovered how to turn it on. A major achievement, since it came with not a hint of how to turn it on being printed on the minimal packaging.

From there, I eventually managed to get fifty-some gigabytes of music stuffed into the thing, enough to go twenty-some days non-stop without repeating a tune. I also have around a hundred and fifty apps installed. Everything from a few games (I'm not much of a gamer other than solitaire), to photo manipulation software, to GPS stuff, to... well, you get the idea. There isn't much that I can't do with my iPod.

The best thing though is, I can read books on it. Yeh, I know. For something so small, you'd think that would also be a 'singularly uncomfortable experience.' But, it isn't. It's great. It's light, it's easy to hold in one hand, and it has a back-lit screen.

Have readers come a long ways. I have readers for Barnes and Noble's Nook, Google's Ebook Reader, the Bluefire Reader, Goodreads reader, Kobo reader, Kindle reader - That's the Amazon Kindle reader, Overdrive reader, Sony Reader, Google Playbooks for audio books, Stanza reader, and the Wattpad reader, plus a whole slew of apps for places to buy books in various formats for the various readers I have. I can read just about anything from anywhere with no more effort than a couple of flicks of my thumb or a finger over the iPod screen

I've probably got upwards of 700 books hanging out on my iPod. Can you imagine that? Massive amounts of tunes, massive amounts of books, massive amounts of apps to do massive amounts of things, all resident on something that's about a 1/4" thick by 2-1/4"x4-1/4". Simply amazing.

So, what led me to this rant for the iPod was this. The other day, at our Men's Group meeting at the Purple Toucan, Craig had brought me eight paperbacks, all part of a series of books, (The Camulod Chronicles in the US, and The Arthurian Saga in the UK, and A Dream of Eagles in Canada... Why?) by Jack Whyte. He had given me the first book in the series quite some time ago, and I had really liked it. But, with time I had forgotten about it until he dropped the bag full of books in my lap - well, onto the tabletop, anyway.

After I got home that evening, I scanned through Craig's books. I was looking forward to taking up with the second book in the series. A good bedtime read always helps one get to sleep. But, wait... I can't read that in bed. Not without turning on my bedside lamp, which I've found, sort of destroys the mood. My iPod, with it's back-lit screen, provides enough light to read by, but without disturbing Dianna. I was amazed how I felt, wishing that the books were in electronic format for that comfy bedtime read. Can't do that with real books. I think I've discovered that that is the one downside to real books. They don't come with a back-lit screen.

I guess I really have become caught up with the technology. One thing, the back-lit screen and, well, ok, those two things, the back-lit screen, a huge memory to hold a ton of books and, well, ok, those three things, the music, the apps... Shoot, about the only things missing is the flexibility of real paper and, of course, the smell of paper.

Ever walk into a library or a used bookstore and the smell hits you? That's another thing going by the wayside. Old bookstores. Brick and mortar bookstores.  You'll never get that old book smell at or some other online bookstore. I guess those are just things to wax nostalgic about as you curl up under your blanket late in the evening with your reader.

I wonder if they have candles with that old book smell?


JRinSC said...

Hi Dave,

I know the feeling on getting used to reading digitally. I got an Ipad for my birthday and, while it isn't the answer to everything, it is a real neat machine.

BTW - on ebooks. I'm going to email you on a source for same.

Have fun reading away.


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

Thanks for the nice comment. I got your email. I'll be in touch.

We are beginning to get some peripheral effects already from Chantal. Well, maybe not her exactly, but close enough. We've got rain and that deep-throated thunder that's so all encompassing.