The eBook Dilemma

Every reader has their quirks. Some people collect hardbound books like library treasures. They’re aiming for a leather and gilt trove you usually only see in the movies. (Of course, they usually never READ those books; they’re strictly for show) Other readers stick to paperbacks. And they have different reasons. The softcovers take up less room on a shelf, allowing you to stack more in a smaller space. They weigh less, meaning less risk of a buckling shelf. And, of course, the cost comes in lower, so you can purchase twice as many. (Or is that my logic coming through?)

Then you have the genuine book snobs.

They want every volume to match. So they’ll hunt down covers by the same artist – regardless of cost. If a publisher decides to change printing format mid-way through a series, they have a meltdown. When new volumes get released years down the road that feature a design on the spine, they splurge and re-buy the entire series. Every book on their shelves is the same height. They sort by color (or some other insane logic). When you come over, they proudly show you their card catalogue – and ask you to fill out a card when you borrow one of their books.

Books are precious to readers. You can’t break spines, crease pages, or spill anything on them. If one of us see you abusing a piece of literary treasure, we’ll hastily provide you with one of the thousands of bookmarks we’ve accumulated over the years. And while we don’t hesitate to share our favorite stories with you, letting a book out of our hands is beyond difficult.

And I’m not different.

If you’re a favorite author of mine? I buy your work in hardback. New authors I haven’t taken a risk on yet? You’re in paperback. Everything’s organized in alphabetical order. So you’ll see varying heights and sizes along the shelves. Depending on when I fell in love with an author, the covers may or may not “match.” (And, no, I’m not wasting time and money chasing down the matching spines) Manga’s organized alphabetically by title, rather than author. And the same goes for my comics and light novels. Quirky? Yes. But not THAT out there. Where I drew the line was when eBooks hit.

I HATED the idea. How could anyone NOT want to hold a book and cover their walls in shelves? Who wanted to throw out the smell of printed paper? Not to mention the nonsense of tapping a screen in favor of turning a page, feeling parchment between your fingers. I rebelled and sneered. There was no way I was EVER going to bend and get one of those ridiculous things. Instead, I proudly proclaimed that I’d be the woman in Fahrenheit 451, burning alive in a house stuffed to the rafters with books.

Until some of my favorite writers sucker-punched me.

They wrote novellas ONLY available in eBook format. I understood the logic, too: publishers don’t want to spend money on novellas. They’re not worth the cost. But eBooks? They don’t require paper or ink. For months, I agonized and stared at the little note next to the cover on the Amazon listing. And, finally, with gritted teeth, I brought home a Nook. Of course, I assured anyone who’d listen (and even some who didn’t), the tablet was strictly for those books I couldn’t reach any other way.

And, for the most part, that’s what the poor device has served for. Any time I stumbled upon something I couldn’t find in any other format, it went onto my Kindle app. Where other people I know turned to their eBooks to save on weight and space in their luggage when traveling, I continue to have no qualms with hauling half a library around with me. I refused to compromise on my book standards. No way was I buying an electronic version of a book I wanted for “convenience.”

Funny how the Universe gets to you sometimes.

By accident, I didn’t pay attention to the book type on my Wish List a few months ago. So when I went to purchase it, I was confused when it said I could read it immediately (rather than offering a shipping option). Turns out, I’d picked the Kindle version. Annoyed, I rolled my eyes and grumbled that I’d get around to reading it eventually. And then I forgot about it. Well, until I could only find the Kindle version of one of the comic volumes I wanted to read, and I noticed a “New” tag on two covers in the Kindle library. But, again, I wasn’t interested in reading it at that moment.

Fast forward to this weekend when I discovered that roller skating is not like riding a bike. I sprained my left shoulder. And while I’d started Keeper of the Lost Cities: Nightfall over the weekend, attempting to lift the book wasn’t possible. All I got was pain. Probably because the volume weighs almost 1.5 POUNDS! My love for a physical book suddenly presented a real problem. I couldn’t NOT read before bed, though.

Which was when I remembered the Nook. And the case with a stand. Grudgingly, I admitted the eBook was useful in that situation. And while it took a little bit of resettling to find a way to tap the side of the screen to “turn the pages,” I finally ended up comfortable – and able to read.

I’m not ready to abandon my shelves and shelves (and shelves) of books by any means. But I CAN see a reason to allow the occasion electronic volume to slip through my fingers. Just in case.

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