I receive daily poems from poets.org, and back in April, I received this poem about e-readers. On first read, I thought this poem was getting all nostalgic for paper books. On second read, I wondered whether it’s challenge to those who are anti-ereader. Look, these little devices will NOT destroy reading. I used to be firmly rooted in the anti-e-reader camp. Since I work in publishing, I was among the first wave to get a “whiff” of the upcoming Kindle, and I remember thinking that I would NEVER buy one of those. After all, weren’t books ALREADY portable? After all, I read on screens all day long for work — why would I also want to read on a screen for fun? After all, I LIKED the feel and smell and weight of “real” books.
I still like real books. I also own a Kindle. I was hooked as soon as I helped my sister download tons of free books for hers. Suddenly, I realized that a Kindle would play perfectly into my book-hoarding passion–AND that it wouldn’t require me to find additional shelving for all the books I acquire much faster than I can read them. Now, I keep my Kindle in my purse and read from it while waiting for appointments, traveling, or during other unexpected down-time. I keep books on my bedside table. I still buy books. I also buy ebooks. One does not exclude the other; electronic books don’t start eating up your traditional books the moment you bring them in the door.
E-readers are good for readers because they offer additional reading options, both in terms of content and the way in which it’s consumed. They’re good for writers, too, as they a) increase an interest in reading; and b) allow much cheaper possibilities for self-publishing. I used to have a “rule” against reading anything self-published because so much of it was low-quality. But it’s so inexpensive on the Kindle that I’m willing to give self-published authors more of a chance. And I suspect a lot of the quality is also higher because the authors get more immediate feedback. For example, I downloaded this book yesterday, in which the author includes a disclaimer about the edits he’s made based on reader feedback. I still have criteria when it comes to self-published books, but e-books make it easier to spot low quality at a glance: covers that don’t look professional rule out a self-published e-book for me, as do grammatical errors in the book description.
So all this is to say that, after experiencing what an e-reader can offer, I lose patience for those who wax so nostalgic for paper books (which, if I haven’t been clear enough, I STILL LOVE). Ultimately, it’s just another way to read. And anyone who loves reading should be able to get behind that.
(If this post has inspired you to get on the e-reader bandwagon, check out Coppergoose.com, which has become one of my favorite websites since it launched about six weeks ago. You can win free stuff every day, and today only you can win a Kindle. The site will not spam you or sell your info — I promise. It’s worth checking out even if you read this post late and miss the Kindle offer, as there are often other goodies of interest to writers, like books and fancy pens!)