There is a great deal of discussion these days on choices within the publishing world. Do you agent or not? Do you publish with one of the big traditional houses or a small independent house? Do you self-publish? These conversations are, of course, critical in today’s market. But, along with how to publish comes the companion question: How do you read?
I never thought I’d enjoy a book that I didn’t hold in my hand. I love the feel of a hard back book, how the pages turn, its weight, the slight smell of the paper and ink that can’t be replicated in any other form. Paperbacks are great for a lighter choice, but somehow I have always struggled with keeping them open unless I break the binding. A one-handed grip often isn’t enough for stability while two hands can feel crowded.
Then, come the e-readers. The Kindle, Nook, iPad and whatever else is now out there. Nope, I thought. Not I. I like a book. Well, right. Once I found that I could load tens of books onto my Kindle and pack it in my bag with no more effort than one paperback, I was sold. The convenience is fantastic and you can even read outdoors in the sun without fighting glare.
I discovered the insidious pleasure of instantly downloading a book within seconds without even searching for my wallet (only of course to read the Visa bill weeks later) as the number of books I owned grew. My husband and I share an account so we can both access the “library” and trade many of our mutually favorite titles.
Great! I had all the choices readily available. I was set. Nope. Not true. Two Christmases ago my dear husband gave me an iPad. Okay, wonderful gift, but was this really necessary? I already had a desk top computer, a laptop and an iPhone. It turns out it was.Quickly I realized I could match the Kindle in finding my reading material, carrying it anywhere except outdoors, and have access to my email (how could I live without that?), the Internet and as many distractions as I could possibly want. The bases were covered. I could read about anything in the spot of my whimsy.
Nope. Not finished yet. In the last thirty years I haven’t been a fan of audio books. I used to listen to them all the time driving when I held a job that had me crisscrossing the entire state many times per week. I found my driving became less frantic and I actually would leave for an appointment early so I could finish listening to a chapter before meeting with a client. It was almost clandestine. Here I was absorbing a book during working hours without anyone being the wiser. When I changed jobs and no longer was logging massive hours in the car, the Books-on-Tape approach fell by the wayside. I didn't any longer enjoy the bedtime approach to listening to my reading material. That was until four days ago.
I was facing a longish drive and was tired of an argumentative discussion on NPR. I really didn’t want to listen to music but was seeking companionship for the next few hours on the highway. Sitting in a rest stop I realized that I could “read” and drive at the same time. Out came my iPad and I had downloaded a book within seconds. For the rest of the trip I was in the South American jungles searching for a damsel held by a drug cartel as a deep baritone read to me. I leave today for the drive home and need to find out not only how she is rescued, but also how long it will take for the dashing ex-special forces hunk to woo her.
At home my books are stacked beyond the capacity of the bookshelves. We have copies of some in print and in digital format. The old problem of finding the page where you left off in the absence of a bookmark disappears when the program automatically opens to the last paragraph. But, I fear the need of a Book GPS program. Where did I leave the current read? Is it on the Kindle, on the bookshelf, by my bed, on the iPad, or on the laptop? Do I need to order it a second time but in hard copy so I can mail it to my mother? Once I have read it and archived it, can I remember how to retrieve it rather than just scan the shelves for a familiar red cover?
It is fantastic to have choices. I’m still adapting. I hope there aren’t any new inventions before I conquer the ones crowding my dining room table.