“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”
― Henry Ward Beecher
This quote was written in the 1800s, long before chain bookstores, online bookstores, book blogs and e-readers. If Mr Beecher had trouble controlling himself in a bookstore back then, imagine how difficult it would be now, with books just a download away.
If you asked Blue Eyes what my biggest material weakness was, he would probably say books. (He did say this the second time, because his first answer was wrong. Clothes are not my biggest weakness. I just happen to like pretty dresses). He rolls his eyes when parcels are delivered because most times they are for me … and most times, they are books. At least they’re review copies, so the cost is well, nothing. But each time a new parcel comes, he smiles that little smile and says, “Oh look, another book. Haven’t you got enough books yet, honey?” He has a vested interest in keeping me away from bookstores.
I’m not denying this, mind you. Put me in a bookstore and the most intelligent thing you might get out of me for a while is “ooooooooh”. The shop owner, on the other hand, will get money. Which is why I review books. It keeps me happy, as well as my bank balance. My bookshelves, not so much. They do have a bit of a saggy look about them, but as far as I’m concerned they just need to get over it. That’s their job, to hold all the books I have reviewed, the ones I’m yet to review, the ones I’ve had for years, the ones I get as gifts … yes, it’s clear my human nature tends towards weakness where books are concerned.
My technologically-savvy friends have long been espousing the benefits of e-readers and I have smiled, listened, and added more books to my trusty wooden shelf. I’m one of those annoying “I prefer to hold a real book” people. Until now. Yes, last week I succumbed and bought an e-reader – not a tablet with lots of apps and things, but a dedicated e-reader. And I do confess to being a tad excited when the parcel came (although I didn’t hear the doorbell and then I had to wait all day to collect it from the post office). Once it was unpacked, I assured Blue Eyes, bless him, that the Kindle was just for those occasions when I caught a plane (about once a year) or train (maybe bi-monthly), was a passenger in a car (once a week) or was waiting for children (daily). It would never replace real books. Never.
My Kindle came with a free DVD with 29,500 a few books loaded (What? Everyone gets that? Really? I thought I just got one because I really, really love books). Anyway, there were some really interesting titles on there … I think one was about a happy, gay life … there were lots of volumes of um, long books … and books about birds and stuff … in fact, there was so much choice that I decided to give share that DVD with my mum and check out Netgalley instead. Blue Eyes would be quite happy to know that I restricted myself to two requests and accepted three pre-approved titles from publishers. Five books, a user guide, a welcome “book” and a couple of free books I downloaded for practice. That’s all. (Between us, I had never really considered that an e-reader was like, a portable bookshelf. Amazing …)
Two nights later I’d finished reading The Girl With the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill, one Destiny Romance title and I’m half-way through one of the freebies. Not bad, not bad at all … I can see this will be my guilty pleasure because Blue Eyes can’t exactly tell me off for getting too many books if he can’t see them, right?
In all seriousness, will my e-reader replace real books? No, not at all. I still love holding books, re-reading them, sharing them with friends and seeing my reading history on a shelf. But my e-reader makes reading even easier, especially for those times when I don’t want to lug around a pile of books. I am getting older, after all.
What about you? What are your thoughts on e-readers? Do you have one or want one? Do you like them better than individual books? Would an e-reader be dangerous because it would be too hard to exercise self-control?