It's been a little more than a year and a half since I took the plunge and bought my kindle. Since then, I've read many dozens of books on the device, read others on my ipod touch via the kindle app, ibooks, and stanza. Still other books I've read on my laptop. Do I like the convenience of ebooks? Sure. It's especially wonderful for a book lover like me (and also as someone with no ability to wait!) to hear about something on NPRs "Fresh Air" and buy it *right now!!!* for my reading pleasure.
Another reason to embrace the ebook is space and portability. My bookshelves are groaning. There are 4 booklovers in this household--it's not hard to see the problem.
But, here is my true confession. I vastly prefer paper books.
I am no luddite. Hell, I have more gadgets and gizmos that all require different chargers and operating systems than the average bear. (Hmm--interesting visual image--an average bear with cell phone, ipod, kindle, tablet,GPS, and laptop. . . ) Moreover, I tend to be among the early adopters of technology.
For the past month or so, I've been trying to work out what my resistence to ebooks is all about. After all, I readily embraced digital music. Now I look at the shelf space taken up by my CD collection and shake my head. All that music and more can happy fit on my ipod. And I can listen to the music far more easily, with more portability, and with sufficient sound quality to match the CD/stereo experience. I've even happily watched episodes of favorite shows and movies on my ipod, streamed courtesy of netflix, without feeling nostalgic for video's, DVD's or good old network TV.
So why not books?
Part of the problem may be that the delivery of music and videos via handheld/portable device is really not that different to the end user whether the user is experiencing it through digital means or a more tangible method. The content on CDs, videos, and DVDs have all needed to be delivered to the consumer through some sort of translation device. Hell, even a record needed a record player.
But a book can be utilized as is, without any added delivery device. The delivery device is built into the item.
An ebook is a fundamentally different way to experience a book in a way that an ipod is not fundamentally different in delivering music or video. Yes, I can absorb the content of a book in electronic form, using any number of delivery devices. Indeed, I have over the past 18 months. The convenience is unmistakable. But the experience is nowhere as satisfying or pleasurable to me as holding a paper book in my hands and being able to kinesthetically flip through its pages.
I relate differently to the same book in ebook versus paper book form.
Perhaps I have reached my generational wall. Perhaps if I had grown up with equating books with reading devices I would have a different experience. Yet, when I think back, I have been interacting with computers since my early teens, learning to program in BASIC in the 1970s on a mainframe. Using punchcards. I am comfortable writing with a computer and follow dozens of blogs daily using an RSS reader, so it's not a problem of fear of device.
No, it is essentially a problem of relationship. Books and I decided that we should see other people. And I admit, it was exciting to flirt with kindle and ipod, but really, all I want to do next Saturday night is curl up on the sofa with a good book. Maybe share a bottle of wine, some soft music, candlelight.
It's a date.