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E-Readers: Deciding to Bite the Hand

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For most of my working life, I have earned a paycheck from the printed word. When I was an undergraduate in college I was a reporter for local newspapers. My first job out of college was as a book editor, and that opened up a whole new world to me in which I have written, edited, copyedited, reviewed, and indexed books. I now teach others how to write, and I continue to write on my own.

It seems that for as long as I’ve been in the publishing world, I have heard whispered warnings about the downfall of the industry due to the development and arrival of electronic readers. Most of the intellectual “purists” with whom I worked visibly recoiled at the mere mention of purchasing an “e-reader.” Go to your local bookstore or java joint and it won’t be long before you find someone touting the exquisite beauty of the printed book.

I have recently decided to “jump ship” and dive into the world of e-readers. Yes, I’m biting the hand that has fed me for so many years, and I will carry the guilt around with me until all of my publishing work dribbles away, drop by drop. Although, this decision wasn’t made lightly. I had to take baby steps in order to arrive at my decision. Below are the steps that have led me to e-reader righteousness:

  • I’m both a student, and an educator and I often need to have access to files when I’m out and about. Many e-readers will allow one to carry and read PDF files.
  • I first fell in love with the convenience of e-books when I took a wintersession class for which I needed to read twelve books in a three week period. I had decided late in the game to take the class, and I had to have the first two books read for the first class meeting. Sure enough, I was able to find the electronic versions of those books. I was able to search for terms, highlight passages, and take notes on my computer. I saved money on the book purchase, shipping, and saved face by showing up to class and being able to discuss both books. A dream for any student!
  • My aging eyes (I think I have my career choice to thank for the bifocals that I needed at age 24) will love the adjustable print, the paper-like display, and even the audio and voice over capabilities eventually!
  • Instead of having to select a few books to carry in my purse when I go out for the day or away for the weekend, then have to go back to my bookshelf and decide which ones to put back because they are weighing me down, I can carry hundreds – nay, thousands of books with me!
  • There is no waiting period between the time that I decide that I want a book, and the time that it is in my hands. This point makes my husband extremely nervous.
  • Ultimately, it is good for the environment. Think of all of the trees in the rainforest that have been spared!

Yes, I admit to and embrace my nerdiness, and a nerd has her needs. Does this mean that I do not obsess over and covet books like I always have? I have seven bookshelves that currently line my office and my collection is growing. There will always be books that I want to have in my collection, and a digital file will never fulfill that need. This is how I know that true lovers of literature have enough room in their hearts for both printed and electronic books. Does a mother love her one child any more than the other? No …she may love each one for the unique qualities he or she has, but she has more than enough love in her heart for both. Now which e-reader will I select? That will be another post …


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