Monday, January 3, 2011

The Sweet and Sour of E-Readers

So. There's a lot of back and forth about e-books everywhere. Lovers of, haters of, utter rejecters of.

I don't fall into any of these categories. Me, I'm a book lover. Booking it to my library all the time, buying scads of books at yardsales and thrift stores and outlets and even full price bookstores when tempted. Even though I'm an avowed cheapskate, I do have this one major vice: I feel no pangs of guilt over buying a good book. Or even a stupid one!

This can be hazardous to my bank account.

I wish I didn't need sleep. If I didn't need sleep, I'd read all the Harvard Classics. (Some of them actually facilitate sleep, I'm here to tell you. Surely you're not surprised.)

This book-buying has a downside: shelving problems. Right now every room in my house has at least one bookshelf. (Minus the kid bathroom, where we are considering installing one when the girls stop being so splashy in the tub.) They are full. They overflow onto piles on the floor. They spill into closets and boxes and toychests. They're everywhere. They take up space. And I don't want to get rid of any of them. I like them. They make me happy, secure, and they give me a sense of hope--hope that an engrossing story lies behind any cover.

My dad once said, "Hell would be if you had no new books left to read." He's where I get my genetic flaw of book collection. (And propensity toward using that word occasionally.)

So. Along comes Kindle.

You can't turn it's pages or sniff the ink or finger the cover. You can't stare at the spine of the book on the shelf and consider the content. does store 50,000 volumes!

Do you KNOW how many books that is?

And I can keep them ALL in my purse to read at the doctor's office! This is a big upside.

As I've mulled over my love affair (and occasional hate-affair) with my newish Kindle, I've found for me there are both pros and cons. Here are a few.

Pro: If I want a book and don't have it, I can download it. No driving to the library, no waiting for it to arrive via USPS or going to a bookstore. It's mine. It's now. It's instant! I loved downloading and reading Ally Condie's Matched without any wait.

Con: Now that I have Matched, a new and notable YA book, I can't lend it to any of my YA-reading friends. I can't donate it to the local (cash-strapped) library. I can't let my son read it--because he's not touching the Kindle. I like to be able to share something delicious, but the Kindle makes me have to be selfish.

Pro: The classics are cheap! Our library doesn't somehow want to keep the classics. They chuck them. Why? I don't know. I'm not in charge (yet.) So, it's sometimes tough to get access to them. But on Kindle, books in the public domain are very inexpensive or (cue the Imperial Margarine fanfare here:) FREE. The price is right! I have already downloaded all of the Elizabeth Gaskell books I've been salivating over for a year (ALL of them for only $.399! Shoot!), as well as my super longtime favorite Anthony Trollope--his complete works. They're mine!

Con: I can't show off my classics collection and feel intellectual by having them on my livingroom bookshelf. Ha ha. You know some of you bibliophiles do that, too. Don't deny it. There's a certain superiority sometimes we feel when we consider the excellence of our book collection.

Pro: In this way, the Kindle forces me to be more humble.

Con: I do like the feel of a book in my hands. The Kindle's page turning button doesn't feel like a page to turn.

Pro: It has a search feature, so if I can't remember a detail from earlier in the story, I can search the text to find that part and re-read.

Con: It's kind of faster to flip through the pages sometimes, with a loving dog-ear on a nice part, or a star in the margin of a particularly well-written phrase. Sure, there's a "highlight" feature, but it's not that friendly "star in the margin."

Pro: Did I mention it fits in my purse? I was happily entertained by Dr. Thorne at a wedding this evening when the groom's sister arrived 30 minutes late.

Con: I downloaded an anagram game. Unless I get vigilant I'm going to fritter away all my time trying to figure out all the combinations of words I can make from the letters in "WOBBLES." Seriously, there are a half hour-worth of those combos.

There are others I'm sure I'll come across as I read and read more on it.

As it is, with both sweet and sour aspects appreciated, I now have added my Kindle to the stack of books on my bedside. For me, there's room for both tangible books and e-books in my life. More access to books makes me happy!

While there are both sweets and sours of e-reading, I have to say, I have a ton of sweet and sour candies I love. Lemonheads? Those are fantastic! As are their sister-food, Alexander the Grape. I also love Mamba, although they're a pain to unwrap when you're driving a car--worse than texting while driving is Mamba-ing. Give me chewy Sweetarts, too. I remember eating those on the bus on the way home from swimming lessons every summer (closest pool to my farmtown was a 45 minute bus ride). Hated swim lessons, loved the 25-cent candy on the way home.

Maybe the most delicious of all sweet and sour candies to me was Tangy Taffy. Still might be. I love that grape one. And the strawberry one. Sure, they lean a lot toward sweet, but there's a tang, too. They're slightly different from Laffy Taffy -- no jokes written on them. Mmm. I wish I had one right now. Danged New Year's Resolutions about sugar. Danged sugar-withdrawal headache. Forget Tylenol. The sugar is the right medicine... I wonder what's in the treat cupboard...


  1. So Matched is a good book? I saw it sitting by The Hunger Games (which I loved!) And considered buying it for a second. I will have to go back and get it now. :)

  2. Loved it. Like my friend Melinda Carrol said in her review, it has the romance of Twilight (but no sex--did more with the touch of a hand than any other author with a graphic scene could) and the dystopia of Hunger Games (but no gore.) Loved it! I hope you enjoy it!

  3. I'll have to check out some of your favs. I plan to own some kind of ebook reader in the near future as soon as I can get some money but I haven't decided which yet...maybe the Ipad since my eyes are acting older than I feel--the larger print is strangely appealing.

  4. The thing about the Kindle is you can change the font size to where it's comfy for your eyes. It's an easy click switch. Some books I want larger, some smaller font, so I just push the button. I saw them for sale somewhere like Office Depot or something if you want to handle one before buying.


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