E-reader Envy

Last week I finished “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and tonight on the way home I’ll finish “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. Because I’ve been reading a book every week and a half since I started work, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying an e-reader some day. You know, once I’m caught up on rent and all those other pesky expenses I let myself get behind on while unemployed.

It seems like every other person on the train has one, and I’ve been secretly admiring them from behind the cover of a actual, physical book, suddenly feeling all antiquated. E-readers, as opposed to my paperbacks, are so small and easily contained and, most importantly, can be held one-handed while the other hand is busy holding on for dear life, as the train pummels its way between unexpectedly abrupt stops. Don’t even get me started on trying to manage a hard cover book with one hand.

This week I visited Barnes & Noble with a gift card from my sister-in-law burning a hole in my pocket. I almost bought Tina Fey’s new book, “Bossypants,” but it’s not available in paperback yet. I ended up going with the new Hungry Girl cookbook, although that’s not exactly something I’ll be poring over on the bus. If I had an e-reader I could be reading “Bossypants” long before it’s available in paperback, six months from now.

Another concern is my upcoming plan to re-visit David Foster Wallace’s epic novel “Infinite Jest,” which long-time readers might remember I attempted to get through last summer. I made it about a third of the way before packing it up with my belongings and moving to Chicago. Until very recently it was abandoned in a file box, its mandatory two bookmarks still in place. It would be nice to condense those 1,079 pages into one intangible digital file, neatly packed inside a thin e-reader a mere 1/4 the size of the actual book — probably about 1/8 of the weight too, holy crap. But then, with “Infinite Jest” comes those crazy footnotes in the back, and how would THAT work on an e-reader? There’s a lot to look into, but I can’t say I’m not curious.

In my opinion, the biggest drawback to an e-reader is a fairly vain one; I have this image in my head of some terribly well-read boy standing next to me one morning on our commute, and he’ll be so impressed by whatever I’m reading that he can’t keep himself from commenting. We’ll have a witty, banter-filled conversation debating authors whose books I’ll pretend to have already read while making a mental to-read list behind my raptly-attentive eyes. He’ll recommend something and offer to lend me a copy, I’ll give him my number and then we’ll get married below the Chicago Theatre marquee outside the Redline stop at Lake. You know, something like that. But how will this fictional boy know what fiction I’m currently reading if all I’m holding up is a nondescript e-reader identical to everyone else’s? I can’t compete with all the cute brunettes doing the exact same thing on either side of me.

And yet, I’m thinking about rewarding myself with an e-reader at the end of the summer, for doing something like reading 30 books in three months, or meeting a weight goal, or for actually saving up more money than an e-reader costs. We’ll see. Who’s got one or wants one? What do you think of them, and what would you recommend?

3 thoughts on “E-reader Envy

  1. Have you read Jonathan Strange? Your comment on the footnotes made me think of it. It’s massive but really entertaining as far as old timey magic goes. There’s footnotes on nearly every page in that and some pages are like 90% footnote. Normally I’d be like, cool skipping those just made this book way shorter, but the footnotes are very amusing and give hints of the coming plot.
    ….I miss reading.

  2. Sooo I have a Kindle (I actually didn’t buy it, my dad got it for my step-mom and she didn’t like it so they gave it to me), and I love it. Here are my pros and cons:

    -There are 15,000 free books available for download (for Kindle on Amazon, not sure what the Nook offers)
    -Books are cheaper when you buy a digital copy
    -You can have a thousand (literally) different books to choose from in one compact device
    -Convenient (need I say more? lol)
    -Stays charges for a super long time
    -Never a hardcover v. paperback issue
    -No page turning
    -It fits in my purse
    -WiFi/3G allows downloading of books anywhere

    -Not all the books you would want are available (i.e. No Harry Potter series!)
    -It’s super easy to spend more money than you intended on books cause you just click a button on Amazon
    -Need a light to read in the dark
    -Easy to get caught up in a book (i.e. It goes by percentage read, and the pages have less text on them so I’ve thought to myself while reading “Oh, I’m at 93%, I’ll just finish the book!” not realizing that the 7% I haven’t read can actually be a LOT!)

    Overall, I think it’s totally worth it. With the amount of bus-commute you have, it’s way more convenient than an actual book. I love that I don’t have to worry about which book(s) to bring with me, and if I finish one I have another giant selection. I don’t plan to let my Kindle take over my books though, I still plan on buying actual hard copies of certain books (i.e. Harry Potter series, even if it becomes available on the Kindle…I’ll just have both!). And the cost really isn’t that extravagant in comparison to an iPad, or the cost of actual books that you’ll buy.

    Miss you!

  3. Jake got me a Nook color two weeks ago and I LOVE it. There is a huge selection of books and there are quite a few that are free (I have only actually purchased one book that I had to pay for). I can also go to the local library sites and check out e-books for free which is fun. Mine has extra apps including Pandora so I can listen to music while I read. I also like that I can get magazine and newspaper subscriptions delivered right to my device and they are in full color format. I would recommend it if you plan on doing a lot of reading, it’s worth it.

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