Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary. On the page headed May 17, 2157, she wrote, “Today, Tommy found a real book!”
It was a very old book. Margie’s grandfather once said that when he was a little boy his grandfather told him that there was a time when all stories were printed on paper.
They turned the pages, which were yellow and crinkly, and it was awfully funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were supposed to–on a screen, you know. And then, when they turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it that it had had when they read it the first time.
“Gee,” said Tommy, “what a waste. When you’re through with the book, you just throw it away, I guess. Our television screen must have had a million books on it and it’s good for plenty more. I wouldn’t throw it away.”
I remember reading this story for the first time in primary school, and the idea of reading books on a screen seemed at the same time ludicrous and marvelous. So it feels strange now to be able to read endless books on the same little touchscreen.
I didn’t really buy into the idea of e-readers for a long time. Where’s the feeling, the smell, the touch of paper? When husband and I finally decided to buy one, it was because of the wealth of free books (as in: copyright-free, but also cost-free) that would become accessible. Which is of course a good thing, although it will only mean a growing TBR rather than a cut in reading costs.
So now it’s time to evaluate my experience, and I’m sad to tell that the misgivings I had were right. I feel the absence of the book as physical object:
- I think I already mentioned as I don’t use bookmarks. I feel my way through the book to the point where I left off, I don’t think I can explain how (oh, wait, that’s matter for another post, right?). It is part of the reading experience for me, and I miss it.
- The book I am reading is a big tome. With such books, the visual sense of how far into the book I am is important to me. The Kindle shows you a percentage, which is fun, but not nearly the same.
- On a smaller scale, I often leaf through the next few pages to see how much it takes before the end of the chapter. Of course you can do that with a Kindle, but it takes forever, and you cannot put your finger between pages to mark the place where you left off.
- Not to mention all the times you leaf back to double check a name or a fact (oh, you don’t? Really?). With the Kindle I just don’t, it’s too complicated.
Of course this is a first experience. I hope things improve with practice.
How about you? Have you had this kind of reaction to your first e-reader experience? Do you think it gets better with practice? Any tips to share?