I got a Nook for my birthday this past August. I know, I, who have always been a critic of e-readers, now own one. At first I wasn't so sure about it. My husband told me I could try it out for a week or two and, if I hated it, we could return it for something else. I always love a good gadget, though, so I had only owned the Nook for about an hour before I was smitten.
One day last week I was waiting in the carpool line at T.'s school. I had the windows down, and I inadvertently eavesdropped on a conversation coming from the car next to me. The woman was trying to convince her friend to buy her husband an e-reader for Christmas.
"I love my Kindle!" She gushed. "Books take up so much room, and now I don't have to worry about where to put them, or how dusty they get!"
I did cringe when I heard this, because those are the things about owning books I love so much. I've carted my books around with me through so many moves. I never feel I'm truly set up in a home until my books are out, lined up on shelves. They are like old friends to me, unchanging faces even after all these years (even if many of them have grown a little frayed around the edges). Even though I own an e-reader now, I still love my books--the actual, physical book; the heft of it in my hands, the smell of the pages, the promise inside. You lose all this with an e-reader, of course, so I could never imagine not owning books. In fact, since owning my Nook, I've read three books on it that I still want to own real copies of, so I can put them on my bookshelf, and share them with others; flip through the pages, touch them in their entirety. Owning an e-reader will certainly not encourage me to stop owning physical books.
So, what do I love about my Nook?
I love the portability. The first book I read on it was Justin Cronin's The Passage, an 832 page novel that I couldn't imagine carting around with me during the day. Instead, I was able to slip my Nook into my purse and catch a read here and there--in the carpool line, standing at walk-up outside L.'s school, waiting at a doctor's office.
I love the immediate gratification of being able to get my hands on a book when I want it, without trying to find the time to make it to a bookstore. When I first heard about Emma Donaghue's novel Room I wanted to read it right then and there. And I did. I downloaded it and read the entire book in the space of half a day, while I was home with T. who was sick. (By the way, if you haven't read Room yet, rush out and do so, or put it at the top of your Christmas list--it's truly one of the most amazing, most utterly compelling and haunting books I've read in a long time.)
Newspapers. I'm one of those people who finds reading paper newspapers annoying. I don't like how big the pages are, how they flop all over your morning tea/coffee while you're trying to read, or droop into your cereal bowl, how the ink stains your fingers, how the pages feel annoying when your hands are dry. All nitpicky, obsessive-compusive things, I know, but reading a paper on my Nook is infinitely better. I love the ease of scrolling through the pages, and having the whole paper at my fingertips without the mess and crinkly pages.
I love the boredom buster potential for my kids. I've loaded a few Junie B. Jones books onto my Nook (you can download them for just a few dollars) and on the days when T.'s dragged along to an appointment for L., she finds them easy to read over the Nook. I've also downloaded some free e-boooks for L., although I can't say I've had a lot of success getting him to settle down and read while we're out and about waiting for an appointment.
I really love the quick and easy access to past reads. I'm the type of reader who goes back to recently read books over and over again. I think about the books, sometimes I write about them, sometimes I want to refer back to a passage or two, or get quick confirmation about what I read. With my Nook I can do all those things instantly, since the books I recently read are all there, stored away, electronic bookmarks, search feature, and all.
I read more now that I own an e-reader. I know this sounds crazy, but it's true. For some reason I've been reading more books, and reading more in general--ten minutes here and there grabbed when I can. I have always been a reader, but in the past I've saved my reading time for long breaks over the holidays, or during the summer months. Since I got my Nook, I've been reading more, and carving out more time here and there to finish books. The kids and I are still making weekly, or bi-weekly library runs but now, instead of being impatient that they aren't patient enough to let me check for books, I'll read over bestseller and Booker Prize lists and plot my next download.
A part of me still fights this whole e-reader business. I worry about what e-readers will do the print industry, and how they will change the act of searching for and buying books. Sometimes I feel guilty, thinking that I might be playing a small part in the demise of the small bookstore, or contributing--heaven forbid--to the end, some sad, dark day, of books in print. But I don't think an e-reader could ever replace a physical book for true book lovers. We will still buy books, and hoard books, and love books. We just might have more of them--because owning an e-reader, of course, is the perfect excuse to buy more books.
My beloved books:
The other 'book', the Nook: