I have a To Do List a mile long (which is next to absolutely no surprise if you know me) and have more books than I really know what to do with. I read incessantly and my collection of books is proof of this (really, I just need to buy a library and retrofit it to make a home of the place). I’ve got books under my bed, above my closet, on 5 bookshelves, in a drawer, stacked on my nightstand, and 15 boxes of them in storage. I love books. I adore the feel of the paper and the scent of the ink. I’m in reverent awe of word on page. I am deal gently with my books, caring for their spines and page corners. I do not highlight anything other than a textbook. I will not dogear. I certainly do not hold them so the front cover is wrapped around and touching the back cover like inappropriately gleeful siblings having the “I’m not touching you” argument. Some day, if I get published, I’ll be excited for an e-book but madly, ecstatically in love with a paperback or hardback copy.
That being said, my family decided this Christmas-past that I needed to have an e-reader, if only to prevent me from covering every spare inch of the house in tomes that I adore. As a result, I now have a Nook Tablet. I’ve chosen to make it look and feel like one of my notebooks as much as possible. I also have a fascination with handwriting and love black and silver as a colour combination. This means that it’s cover is this one over there to the right.
It’s not until you open it that you see that it’s a mad Star Trek-esque tablet. That’s the first thing that struck me when I opened it and turned it on for the first time, by the way. We are living in The Future. We now live in a world where I can write on, access information on, and draw on a tablet light enough to hold in one hand. The first image that popped for me was Picard reading a book on a tablet much like the one I now have, listening to opera, and drinking Earl Grey. If you switch out opera (which I find too distracting for reading) for Pandora, I am now that person…the one drinking tea and reading a story while also listening to music.
Now, I will never give up paper books. The Tablet is too bright for me to read just before bed in order to relax, but it’s great for when I’m out and have five minutes. I went to the salon to get my hair super conditioned, since I’m really rather partial to not looking like I have the Burning Bush on my head, and I started a murder mystery, played 2 rounds of Words with Friends, listened to music, and drew a simple picture while I was waiting under the drier for the tandem treatment to set. I’m officially addicted to Words with Friends and have 5 games going currently. I can play Oregon Trail (though it’s not quite so historically accurate anymore…I mean, really, eagles stole my siblings…eagles?). I get to read National Geographic, ImagineFX, Time, Asimov’s, Poets & Writers, The Writer, and Analog without much fuss and beautiful, clean pictures. Best thing ever, I will never have to throw away a magazine as it will always be in my library and will simply be added back again if I have a problem with it. Drawbacks: You can’t mark up a magazine and you can’t print out pictures that you love and stick them on your wall, nor can you pull those pages out and keep them in a journal or file all their own for inspiration.
For a book that I want to mark up, it’s great. I can highlight, make notes, and place bookmarks so that I can always go back to those pages. It’s great for writing analysis. So, it frees me from my reverence of books and I can lend them as I chose most of the time, but I miss the feel of a book with it. It’s light. It prevents me from keeping 3 notebooks, 2 novels, and a play in my purse at all times. If I like an e-book especially, I still buy it in paperback. I am a bibliophile to an extreme degree, I know.
I also find that, while it has a keyboard, it doesn’t quite work for writing. Short notes? Sure, but not much beyond that. I still prefer my computer or a simple pen and notebook/envelope/napkin/piece of paper if I’m writing much more than a sentence. My family’s right, it was a good gift for me and it’ll be awfully entertaining next time I’m on a plane and the seats are so bloody cramped that I can’t open my laptop. I’ll be able to watch movies, listen to music, and read magazines while I’m on a plane without need for light or really anything other than my new Star Trek-ish toy. But I will never give up real books because as Giles said, “Knowledge should be smelly” and every book, fiction or non, contains knowledge of something or other.