Sunday, February 19, 2012

“Hi. I’m Joe and I’m an … e-reader.”

Well, sometimes I’m an e-reader.

And, despite the headline here, I'm not calling for an E-Readers Anonymous group to be formed. But is a guilty apology necessary if one shifts, occasionally, from the paperback/hardcover format to the e-reader for book reading?

Well, maybe “guilty apology” is a bit dramatic. But with the plight of bookstores these days, I do feel a modicum of guilt at using one of the presents that Santa brought me this past Christmas.

But after almost two months of using the Barnes & Noble NOOK, there’s no hiding from the fact it brings a certain convenience.

For example, I’ve recently finished reading the last of the Parker series of mysteries written by the great Richard Stark (pseudonym for Donald Westlake). All 24 of them. The University of Chicago Press has done a great job with the re-issues, adding informative introductions by Terry Teachout and Lawrence Block, among others.

However, while I purchased hard copies of the Parker books for the first 21 in the series, the final three, for a reason no one has explained to me, are only available as fairly expensive out-of-print editions; unless one is lucky enough to find used copies. Alas, none of Boston’s excellent used book stores had them.

Yet, via NOOK, these last three Parkers were all available as e-books. So a click or two and there they are, delivered right to my desktop (NOOK-top?).

So I wondered if I should perform some act of private apology and buy something … anything … when I next visited my bookstore.

Then I looked around my residence. I’ve got the new Walter Mosley book. And next to it, is the recently purchased (and just-finished) copy of “Jambalaya Justice” by Oak Tree sister-in-crime. Holli Castillo. (And, by the way, Holli, it’s terrific!)

What else did I find? Other favorites were strewn about here and there. (I’m more Oscar Madison than Felix Unger, as you can tell.) James Lee Burke. Henry Chang. Hank Phillippi Ryan. Others.

So am I an e-reader? A book buyer? Or what?

The hell with it. I’m like the rest of you – I’m a reader. Like I’m a music lover. Maybe my vinyl record days are over but I still buy CDs at least—as well as download material here and there.

Do I feel guilty when I pay for and then download a couple of songs from iTunes? Nope.

But why am I kind of, sort of on-the-verge-of guilty if I download those Richard Starks—or something else—to my e-reader? And should I be?

As they say in college essay exams … discuss.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Joe, fantastic post. I love my Kindle but I always read the paper books first. I want to be sure I have something I really want to read on my Kindle when I go on a trip.

One thing, if the paper book is really long (think Stephen King) it's a lot more comfortable to read it on my Kindle. (Which I did with his last book.)


Holli said...

I end up buying books on Kindle for two reasons--first, if I need the book RIGHT NOW. Convenience is important. The second reason frequently is price. With the economy the way it is, I have to be more selective with my book budget, and if I can buy more by buying them on Kindle, I will.

Of course, there is no comparison between opening an actual book and turning on the Kindle, but I think a marriage between the two provides the best of both worlds.

P.S. Joe, glad you enjoyed Jambalaya!

Holli Castillo

William Doonan said...

I don't even have a cellphone, so I probably won't be buying an e-reader anytime soon. Not that I have anything against them, but I like the geography of paper books. If I remember reading something, I can go back and kind of remember where on the page the passage was. Does that make me a Luddite? Probably. I'm still upset that the whole monocle industry went belly up. I'd hate to see the same happen to books.

William Doonan

C.K.Crigger said...

I borrowed a print copy of Stephen King's 11/22/63 (or whatever date is the title) and I'm sincerely wishing it was on my Kindle instead. The dang thing weighs a ton! I love the Kindle, but I love print books too. Can't we all just get along?

thesistown said...

Great post very nice!