Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reading my First Ebook

First off, no, this is not the photo of me reading an ebook; I don't have a photo of that yet. And second of all, I don't recommend this particular position to read a book I was on vacation, OK. Anyway - I did have the opportunity to read an ebook recently. Since it just happened to be a picture book, that's all I can speak about right now.

My dad, age 90, just bought an ereader. I was attempting to help him figure something out when my 4-year old niece jumped in my lap. Right at that moment the "library" on his Nook came on the screen and there were a few kid's books on it - the ones that come free with the ereader. So, we figured out how to pull it up. Sonia was far better at figuring it out than I was and no, she had not done this before and is not a techy kid who spends time on the computer all the time. I've read many paper (I'm tempted to say "real"...hmmm...)books to her, so have something to compare the experience to.

If she had reviewed it, I think she would say this... "I liked the story and the pictures. I liked sitting on Auntie's lap and being silly while she read it to me. I didn't really like the one where the ereader reads the book to me - I'd rather hear Auntie, or Mommy or whoever's voice."

And I have to agree with her. I would add that one frustrating aspect of the ereader is that as an adult reading to a child, when the child gets antsy, they can quickly (too quickly), slide their finger a few times and you've lost your place in the book. I'd suggest a button on the bottom of the ereader that the adult can click to keep the book on that page - maybe it's there and I just didn't know. Also, when I wanted to show her that there were four letter "g's" in a row, it kept turning the page. She loved how silly that was, but I imagine that could get old if you're trying to read a bedtime story. Likewise, whenever she wanted to show me something, and touched the screen, it either got bigger or it turned the page, which is counter-intuitive to the way kids read books. I mean, think of the kids books your own children loved, they ended up with bent pages, finger smudges and just a general "well-loved" look. Now imagine that each finger of love does something you don't want it to do, like turn a page etc.

All of that said, I can see the plus side of it too. I mean, there are no little kids in our family who live close by. And we were at her grandma's house where there wouldn't typically be a lot of kids books. But with the ereader, you could quickly bring one up. If we had more time and it was already set up with my account, it would have been fun to find a few more books to download, but I would have been looking for cheap ones like the 99 cents or so. If I lived with a child, I think I'd be looking for anthologies of books, if there is such a thing.

What do I miss? Turning a real page, being able to go back a few pages by using the visual on the page, not the number of "swipes." And...this is going to sound weird, but I miss the cuddle factor. While my niece was plenty cuddle-able, the "book" was not. Another weird thing I miss, that is more specific to picture books - the variance in the size of the books.

So, will I ever buy an ereader for myself? Yes. What are my main reasons? I'm not sure. How's that for a review?

Are you considering an ereader? Have you tried one out? Do tell.


Linda said...

Hey, Karen, I drove by your house a couple of weeks ago! It's just as beautiful as I remembered. I looked around to see if you might be outside but you weren't so I drove on. Wonderful to be back in our beautiful "old" neighborhood!

I really don't want an e-reader. I like the feel of paper and the way I can underline and highlight and write in the margins and turn the corner of special pages. The "cuddle factor" is too important to me. I know a lot of people who disagree with me, but hey--I'm old-fashioned and stubborn!


LIllie Ammann said...


I'm just the opposite. I've been reading on an e-reader since 1999—I bought a Rocket eBook Reader, the very first e-reader, when it first came out, close in time to the time my first book was released as an ebook. I've read very few print books since then, and the last print book I read was years ago. I always hated to read hard cover books, but even paperbacks are difficult for me to hold and the font size in most paperbacks is too small for me to read. I love being able to adjust the font as large as I want it, and holding my light, small Kindle is much easier on arthritic hands than a "real" book. I've never had any particular affinity for the "smell" of a book, and your post is the first time I've ever heard of the "cuddle factor." :-)

I have several paperbacks that I bought at booksignings with every intention of reading them, but I've finally admitted that I will probably never again read in print.

I realize not everyone has the physical limitations that make an e-reader better for me, but there are other advantages as well.

I can buy several ebooks for every print book because of the difference in price, unless I'm buying from the clueless Big 6 publishers who grossly overcharge for their ebooks. :-)

And I can carry a whole library with me. I don't travel much, but when I did, I loved carrying all the books I wanted to read on a trip in the palm of my hand. Now I just like having instant access to a variety of reading material at home or in the doctor's waiting room or wherever I go. I have 100+ books to read on my Kindle, and it's easier to stick in the side pocket of my purse and carry with me than a paperback.

Searching for a place in the book is easier than flipping through pages trying to find it. The notes I take are neater and easier to read than handwritten notes, and I can electronically highlight and bookmark as much as I want.

I can store all the books I want without taking up any shelf space—and without having to dust them. :-)

I can't address children's books. I don't have any children to read to and have only one client who writes children's picture books. I don't even make ebooks for her children's books because most ebook formats don't render the illustrations very well. I don't think the day is too far away when children's ebooks will be interactive and offer features that print books don't. However, that day isn't here yet.

Except for children's books, I always encourage all of my clients to make their books available in both print and electronic formats. If you prefer print, that's fine with me. I want you to be able to read and enjoy my books and my client's books. If I prefer ebooks, I want to be able to read and enjoy all the books I choose. We should each be able to read the way we prefer.

This looks more like a post than a comment. :-) As you can see, I'm passionate about ebooks.

irishoma said...

Hi Karen,
I've resisted buying an e-reader, but the other day at the hair dresser's I was told they are the greatest!
Not sure if I'll take the plunge--maybe if I get one for Christmas.
Donna V.

Linda Austin said...

There are many advantages to e-books, as Lillie pointed out. I, however, am not interested despite the big plus of magnified print. I demand the "cuddle factor" and love the physical presence of books. I'm happy to donate excess books to charity or library fundraisers, and there's always the library if I want to borrow a book for free. I only read one or two at a time so no need to carry a library around. To each his own! I'm glad there's a choice.

Linda Hoye said...

I have a Kindle and an iPad. I enjoy reading books on both devices - they each have individual plusses and minuses. Of course I still enjoy real books but I'm an ebook convert.

Karen Fisher-Alaniz said...

Oh my! I posted responses to this a week ago and now they're gone. Hmmm...

Linda - You should have knocked on the door. I would have loved to see you! But we may well have been gone on vacation.

Lillie- That's amazing! I bet you didn't have a lot of choices back then though.

Irishoma - Yeah, if you get it for a gift, then you're kinda off the hook. But I don't know...even people I know who didn't want one at all and got one as a gift ended up loving it. Very surprising in some cases!

Linda A. - I can't imagine my home without books, even if they aren't always neatly shelved. Piles, stacks...whatever. My home will always have them.

Linda H. - I have a feeling I will land somewhere like you - in the middle.

Thanks for all the great comments, Friends!

Arlee Bird said...

I think kids are now born with computer knowledge.

I've read a few books now on my computer and I did not like the experience very well. I have not tried an ereader yet and currently have no plans of getting one, although I guess I might someday. I do like having real books. The biggest advantage I might see with an ereader is when I'm traveling.

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Tossing It Out