I am a big fan of e-books. I got my first personal digital assistant (PDA), a Visor Pro, with the express purpose of reading on it. I have since used countless PDAs and e-book reading programs. Currently, I find most of my reading time on my commute to work (by subway) and in “micro-moments.” With a PDA in hand, I can start reading at a moment’s notice, and I usually do, even with only a few minutes available to me at a time. The minutes add up. Currently, I use my iPod Touch for reading books. I must be one be a singleton, holding an iPod on the train, sans head phones, staring intensely at the screen.
I also find ludicrous that anyone would argue that there are clear advantages to paper or e-books; I absolutely love to read, and I cannot care less how I do it. I can point to several instances, in the past few months, where I made a conscious decision to avoid one or the other, for whatever reason. I prepare for air travel by borrowing a few books from the library. I have been purchasing more and more history and science works in e-book form. I occasionally by reference works, on paper, that can benefit from a persistent footprint (e.g. cookbooks, protocols, technical works, etc.) In other words, to hew so closely to one form of text over the other, to the point of making a philosophical to-do about it, is a senseless expenditure of energy. I am a big fan of the pragmatic; I read in the form that is most convenient for me at the time.
With that said, there is something about the smell and physicality of a book that appeals to me. No, I do not read or buy books for showing off; my bookshelves are in my wife’s and my bedroom. I love walking into a bookstore or library; I am comforted. It is my church. The downside of books is the physical aspect of it. There is a reason the bookshelves are hidden in the bedroom: we do not have another spot for them. Clearly, one difference that I found useful in e-books is that they don’t take up physical space. I have 500 e-books on my palm, and I love having my library with me.
At this point, I am thinking that you can guess that the title of the blog isn’t an excuse for why I am not reading, but rather a complaint about how little time I do spend reading. I suppose I cannot be doing so badly: I have a count for most of the books I have read in the past 5 or so years: 318. That includes the e-books and p-books I bought; it doesn’t include the library books I have borrowed and read. I guess it works out to about 5 books a month; it isn’t impressive, given the rate some other readers devour books, but since I have a day job that takes up way too much time (but it’s engaging work!), a wife, and a 3.5 year old, I get some slack, don’t I?
I have already posted a handful of reviews elsewhere on the web; sooner or later, I’ll reprint them here. I will add links to book stores as well as Fictionwise; that’s my vendor of choice for e-books, and they have recently gone from being a retailer to publishing partner. Fictionwise bought eReader, an e-book format and a reading software developer. There are “readers” available for PDAs, computers, and now the iPhone.