I used to be a book snob.
People would ask me if I read e-books, and I vehemently would reply, “Absolutely not!” My home was an obstacle course of print books stacked on every surface (floors included), thank you very much.
I swore I never would betray my love of “p-reading,” or reading print books, by reading an e-book.
“Never” met an untimely end last Christmas Eve when my sister gave me a Nook.
The smartest technology I owned before the Nook’s arrival was a 5-year-old Dell laptop and a secondhand Nintendo Wii. The Nook is the first touch-screen technology to take up residence in our home.
I was in the crowd of book-loving traditionalists who insist on experiencing the weight of a hardcover and the dusty smell of pages. But my tech-savvy sister was determined to upgrade me to the 21st century. So I fired up the Barnes & Noble device to give it try.
I scrolled through Facebook. I played videos on YouTube. I browsed Amazon. I (think I) successfully downloaded a free trial of a book before handing it over to my husband to play with.
But I didn’t read a book.
A week later, I came across a New York Times Sunday book review titled “How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?” Author Mohsin Hamid and journalist Anna Holmes weighed the pros and cons of e-reading versus p-reading.
“E-reading opens the door to distraction,” Hamid concludes. “It invites connectivity and clicking and purchasing. The closed network of a printed book, on the other hand, seems to offer greater serenity.”
Aha! So my years of insisting on reading print books were justified.
Then again — hadn’t I just read that article on my Nook?
During a Facebook session on the Nook, I stumbled across a debate on friend and fellow writer’s profile. The conversation was a tug-of-war over which was better: e-reading or p-reading.
The p-reading crowd was being particularly vocal (and a tad self-righteous) until my friend squashed it by saying, “Stop being so pretentious. Reading is reading, no matter the format.”
Her words resonated. She was right. Reading is reading — if one form can hook a person into a love of literature better than another form, then both clearly have a place.
I decided to give e-reading a try. I downloaded Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller” and read my first e-book.
The experience had its pros and cons. The battery had a tendency to die during marathon reading sessions, requiring an extension cord to run from the wall to the bed. The screen would dim or go black if I took too long reading a page. But it was easier to turn pages when the cat claimed my lap and pinned down my right arm — the swipe of a thumb could turn the page without disturbing His Royal Highness.
All in all, though, the experience could be summarized as: it felt like reading.
One benefit I can’t overlook is the price of e-books. I’d had my eye on “The Storyteller” for several weeks but didn’t want to spend the $10.79 for the paperback. Sales and discounts let me download the e-version for $4.99.
After swallowing the initial price of an e-reader, families could realistically download hundreds of books at a fraction of the cost of print books. The potential for bringing more books to children and families gives e-readers a significant place in my heart.
And let’s face it: By the time I have children, they are going to grow up in a technology age. They will have to have some contact, albeit it limited and monitored, with technology. E-reading is a healthy place to start.