|I was not expecting its arrival any time soon...|
The Great E-Book Debate
For years I have resisted the e-book revolution. While I could see the advantages of an e-book reader, I simply didn’t see myself using one. The books I’d like to read aren’t available on the format, I said, so why bother getting one? It seemed pointless…
But I’ve finally given in. What does this mean? Will I convert to the Kindle and regard printed books with disdain? Can mystery readers look forward to an imminent auctioning off of my small collection?
Briefly put, the answer is a resounding no. I love printed books and will always remain devoted to them. But there were several factors that pushed me into finally purchasing an e-reader. And so I’d like to share with you the Top 6 Reasons I Bought a Kindle. Why Top 6? Because it’s a nice, round number and I have no better reason. Here goes:
6. Technology Marches On
The last time I handled an e-reader was about 2 years ago. I was young, innocent, and beautiful, but more importantly, the e-readers I handled did not leave me impressed. I tried out a Sony e-reader and lasted approximately five minutes. It was a complete fiasco—the device refused to turn off when I asked it politely. The pages took forever to load. When a new page would load, the device would flash annoyingly for a considerable length of time. More often than not, the “ink” from the previous screen/page would still show up on the current page. Most annoyingly of all, there were too many buttons, and if you missed your timing or pressed the wrong one, you got lost in the device’s complex information labyrinth.
But two years is an awfully long time, especially from the technology standpoint. E-readers have evolved. The screens are bigger, the e-ink technology is more efficient and developed. Amazon’s Kindle was the best device in terms of minimizing that flash in between pages. It has easily-mastered controls. I appreciate the long battery life, memory capacity that has doubled since the last time I tried e-readers… and it actually works, which is great.
5. E-book exclusive titles
I have never been able to sit down and read a long document on my computer screen. I’ve made a few exceptions here and there, but after those sessions, I sit at my desk, rubbing my eyes, the glare acting like a squad of assassins on my eyes.
E-book exclusive titles are a mixed bag, to be sure. You never quite know what you’re getting, and it can be a veritable gamble in terms of the editing quality and proofreading. But there are some books that sound genuinely interesting— such as Julius Katz and Archie by Dave Zeltserman. There’s no way I could ever read an e-book on my computer, but now that I own a device, it suddenly becomes manageable.
4. Ability to borrow e-books from the library
I love my local library, and I haunt the place regularly. That being said, there have been some resources I have never been able to use—the e-books. When everyone in the community was flocking to read Louise Penny, a long list of holds was generated on all her titles. There were e-books, of course, but I hadn’t the patience to read them on my computer. Nor would I ever have. Having an e-reader, I can now finally use the e-books the library has to provide. Read it, return it, borrow something else— I like the idea! Plus, there are some books that I would never pay $29.95 to read!
Earlier this year I went on a several-week long trip to Portland, Oregon and back. It was a wonderful trip and I brought with me a huge stack of books that I would read from almost every day.
But ultimately, this was rather a pain in the neck. My bag was stuffed with books, to the point that I had difficulty finding the one I wanted or pulling it out if I knew where it was. When we arrived in Portland, we stayed with family, who had a very young daughter. There was no place safe from her grasp, so I could never be sure I left my prized books in a good spot. Finally, it was heavy and bulky, leaving me little room for those useful things called feet (which promptly would dash off to sleep).
With an e-reader, you can store thousands of books in digital memory, and all you need to do is bring along a device smaller than the average paperback novel. What I’m trying to say is it’s more convenient, and as more books I love become available in e-book form, the more convenient an e-reader will become.
The Langtail Press has been around for a while, run by James Pritchard, Agatha Christie’s great-grandson. I love this company to death—I admire what it’s done, bringing authors like John Dickson Carr, Freeman Wills Crofts, and Anthony Berkeley back into print and also in e-book form. This opens their works up to an entirely new audience that wouldn’t have had a chance to read them before.
Now that I have an e-book reader, I can look forward to reading more Anthony Berkeley or Fredric Brown. (Damn. I still haven’t read Night of the Jabberwock. I’ll have to get around to that.)
I think this was the killer—the announcement that made me seriously reassess my position on e-book technology. Otto Penzler has fired up The Mysterious Press once more, this time as an exclusively e-book publishing company. This is great news— if you have an e-book reader. Back in the day, The Mysterious Press offered high-quality books by a wide range of authors, with superb standards in terms of editing and proofreading. Even more exciting is seeing Ellery Queen and Christianna Brand getting published online—and they’ve just gotten started. I can’t wait until the business is in full swing. The good times, they’re a-coming.
I’ve fiddled around with my new Kindle and I only have positive things to say about it. I was not expecting it for another week at the very least, and when I arrived home today, it had already arrived! I eagerly explored it and found, to my delight, that it was easy to use. When I wanted the next page to load, lo and behold! It was there in the blink of an eye! There was no glare from the screen— no annoying “loading…” message in between pages. It was easy to discover my way around the new device and overall, I couldn’t be happier.
No, wait. I could be happier. If Santa Claus can somehow manage to get Henry Wade, J. J. Connington, John Rhode, Freeman Wills Crofts, and others published in e-book form, I will be a very happy person this Christmas. How long do you figure it’ll take for a letter to reach the North Pole? Or should I just write on his Facebook wall?