Thursday, March 31, 2011

In praise of electronic readers!

This Christmas I was given a KOBO electronic reader. It had about 100 books already pre loaded and decided to take it on my Cuban holiday this year. Normally when I travel to Cuba, I bring with me my Spanish dictionary and other resources as well as a few books. This makes my bag heavy and cumbersome.

I purchased a Spanish book for my Kobo as well as "the Best laid plans" which won the Canada reads competition. The Best laid plans was a sheer delight to read. The Kobo is light, very portable and very readable. I was able to bring my book poolside or enjoy a good read under a palm covered umbrella at the beach. It is also light enough to read when you are in bed. Since I was participating in a bike training camp, I usually was in bed at 930 and asleep by 932!

I collect fountain pens, have leather and canvas bags for my bike and generally enjoy the feel and touch of well made, well crafted items. Hence, I was unsure as to my abilities to enjoy the KOBO.

If you enjoy reading and are in a situation where you are traveling and weight and space are at a premium (I can think of the many times I was on diving holidays and the space in my boat cabin was limited), then the Kobo is a great choice.

A best seller costs about $6.00 which is far less than a paperback and less cumbersome than a hardcover. You can also delete books if you are finished reading them, or purchase additional storage capacity. If you are like me, unless the book is a timeless classic like the Lord of the Rings, it is unlikely that I will ever re-read a book. On the other hand, I find it very difficult to get rid of books in my house. I can give away clothing, electronics, household appliances..everything but in the case of a book there is always a nagging voice that says "what if". Indeed, what if I would ever need my textbooks on advanced calculus or fluid mechanics? One never knows. I have packed these textbooks in boxes and they are piled in my basement. It has been at least two years and I have not opened the boxes...but ...but.

An electronic reader solves this problem as there is no issue with storage. If you don't read a book, delete it.

I realize that my words go against the very fiber of my soul as a historian, which is to keep and preserve for posterity. There is something quite wonderful in finding an old book at a sale and seeing the underlined sections, looking at the dates and the signatures and imagining where that book has been. On the other hand, one can quickly become burdened by wonderful things. I am all too aware that letter writing is vanishing and we are replacing our modes of communication and even our grammar with atrocious text constructs like LOL or ROFL. I am also aware that many people no longer read finding that a luxury. Perhaps the ereaders will appeal to these individuals, who may purchase one to be fashionable, but will soon get hooked.

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