The E-Reader has a lot going for it. It's something lightweight you can easily carry and use while you pass the time away waiting on line or in traffic. It helps rid the world and overflowing bookcases of the bulk, waste and demand of pulp paper output so it's 'green'. Many popular authors now publish some of their work exclusively in the e-book format so you have access to books you wouldn't ordinarily have. And if you love to read, you literally have a virtual library at your fingertips.
So why am I not in love?
To get me interested in anything is easy. To get me to commit is another thing entirely. When I first heard about e-readers (online of course) it made my heart go pitter-pat because it had all the hallmarks of something that would appeal to a dedicated reader. I've been reading online for over fifteen years now and thought I could make the smooth transition but then I'd look longingly at my overstuffed bookcase and felt a twinge of guilt and confusion.
When I was very small, I used to snuggle up to my dad after dinner every night and listen to him read aloud from one of his paperbacks. They were in a pile on the floor next to my parents' bed and were as reliable a presence to me as my dad himself. I didn't care much for the subject matter (he was on a Hal Lindsey kick for awhile) but early on I associated reading with warmth, security and closeness. I think too, because my dad's always been a big guy, I also associated it with heft and ponderousness in a very good way.
I like all things big, probably because I'm big myself and have known that all my life. I swoon when a big man envelops me in his arms and pulls me towards him. I luxuriate when I'm sitting in my friend Catherine's big Sebring convertible and it's as if I'm in a rolling comfy couch. I surround myself with heady scents redolent of far off lands and ancient spices and appreciate the decadence of a down comforter so heavy I could give myself a hernia just pulling it up around me as I drift off to sleep, I enjoy the weight of a platter full of delicious food as it's lifted and carried to its home as the centerpiece at the holiday table, and I love the weight, heft and texture of a book in my hands. So something with an e-reader has been lost in translation, I fear.
One girlfriend was not a reader by any stretch of the imagination before she bought her Nook. Now she has over fifty titles downloaded and gets as excited as a little girl when a new title comes out and she has access to it in 60 seconds. Of that, I AM envious. Still....
Another friend trusted me to read his unpublished book which is on a subject I adore and and I've tried to get into it several times and have failed miserably. I'm ashamed of it, to tell the truth. The story itself is riveting and worthy but if I can't even feel paper in my hands, I'm at a genuine loss. It's as if I've lost one of my senses and it alarms me.
I have other friends who are authors who encourage me to self publish my novel with Amazon and I feel a sense of betrayal to my as yet unfinished work, my child, my legacy. It's probably silly because they're making money with every download while I'm agonizing over physical pages when I could be sipping prickly pear margaritas at a resort across the country and laughing about my initial reluctance.
I think eventually, I will give in to a point. I'll buy a Kindle (or even an iPad because the possibility of endless applications is very appealing to this girl who likes options), but I can't turn my back on my simple literary roots. I'm still the same kid who found comfort hanging out in the stacks at the library and used to surreptitiously sniff the pages for that heady pasty gluey scent that is still as alluring to me as any expensive perfume. I'll never forget reading something forbidden under my parents' bed while I ignored them calling for me to come to dinner. A recent epiphany is, as much as I like to eat, I have to admit I like to read even more.
Books, the printed word especially, are food for my soul and when I want truffles and champagne, a Hershey bar and a diet Coke are just not the same thing.