Well, I did it: I bought an e-reader. This may not seem like a big deal—but I’m a lifelong technophobe who has scorned most new gadgets. (I even pooh-poohed the first electronic typewriter until I saw how a correcting key would change my life.) And I don’t understand how this stuff works. I’ve always sympathized with James Thurber’s grandmother, who imagined that “electricity was dripping invisibly all over the house.”* So I’m surprised that I succumbed to this new toy.
The truth is, from the moment I saw someone reading an e-book on a plane, I wanted one, then felt guilty. Buying an e-reader seemed like a betrayal of my dear friends who run fabulous Indie bookstores—not to mention that writers are paid poorly for e-rights. Besides, I love actual books. I love the feel of the paper, the smell of a brand new book no one has opened, the way print looks on the page. Books are my friends. According to an article in the NY Times this spring, an e-reader is not green. And it would be sacrilege to read a picture book to a grandchild in that format.
And yet—imagine boarding a plane with a light carry-on. And how nice to read a friend’s 200 page manuscript without printing it out. My e-reader even lets me borrow books from my library at no cost. I open it up and Kurt Vonnegut grins at me. I can replace my tattered copy of Slaughterhouse Five without cluttering my groaning bookshelves. It’s the wave of the future—and I’m having fun so far. That is, until my husband grabs it for a game of Sudoku…
*James Thurber, The Thurber Carnival, p. 186.