Friday, July 10, 2009

Where my Mouth is...

This may come as quite a surprise, but I have a tendency to run off at the mouth a touch...
I'll imagine you are guffawing in disbelief.

One of the things I tend to get verbally riled up about is the whole e-books are the future argument. Okay, you've read the posts and that's old news. What you don't know, of course, is that up until a week ago, I didn't actually own an e-reader.

Now, now, I still have a computer. I downloaded Microsoft e-reader and mobipocket. I downloaded some e-books, and I toyed around with reading on the screen. But, we know that one of the major keys to a lasting interest in electronic books, is that small, paperback sized technology that gets the e-book off the screen and into the reader's hot little hands.
I have always conceded that reading on the desktop is not ideal at best. At worst, it sucks.

Still, I championed the e-book on the theory that the new technology has made it a lasting item, a true and wonderful way to access what is important in reading--the story.

So last week I had a birthday. (I won't tell you which one) Lo and behold, I unwrapped a glorious, sleek, black and silver, thin data pad in the high tradition of star trekkian wonder, e-reader. Whooopie!

I'm enough of a science geek to understand that, while arguing on theory can be fun, empirical data and experience will be the real test. So I got on with it, with much excitement and a flurry of downloads. I loaded up that puppy with e-books and started reading.

Thankfully, I love it. (come on, I knew I would) My e-reader and I are now inseparable. Still, as that science enthusiast, I have to report a few interesting facts--even if they don't totally support my theories.

So as I'm reading my third or fourth downloaded e-book, I catch myself thinking, "ah ha! Now I can toss out some of those ratty old paperbacks." and from somewhere in the background, a startled mental voice replied, "HUH, Wha????"
I kept on. I downloaded twelve Andre Norton novels. (My all time favorite and hero) I thought, "Now I can toss out those..." the voice said. "I don't think so, babe."
blasphemy. The Norton's stay.
I argued with it, tried to ignore it, wrestled a little. In the end we compromised. I'll keep the Norton's. . a few of the favorites. Just to smell the paper now and then.

Well, I did say our generation wouldn't give them up totally. I still think our kids' kids' will.
For my part, I did have fantasies about how clean my house would look when all the books, cds, movies and games were stored in a tiny, slim, black data pad. Sigh. Maybe just one small shelf of books?

The other thing that happened just proves how hard it is to face a future where things are changing too fast for your tastes. I unwrapped the reader and excitedly showed it to everyone.
My mother said, hmmm. I don't think I can read on that, I can't see the text.
I explained electronic paper, (it really does look identical to print) and showed her a page.
Can't see it, she said. I increased the magnification.
Can't see it. I set it to max.... The letters were as big as my thumb, many many times larger than the text in the books she reads constantly. Big, black, bold...
I can't see it, she said.

I let it go. I could have told her, resistance is futile, but I didn't have the heart. She could see it. I know she could. But I remember arguing with my young friends that my cell phone is not a leash that must be answered and responded to immediately.
I grew up before we had answering machines. When they call, wait five seconds, call, wait five...
The future is a hard thing to face, change is hard to swallow. It's also impossible to stop.
I'm not buying anymore paperbacks. I'm putting my money where my mouth is, and I LOVE that e-reader. So, maybe I keep a shelf of old science fiction... maybe my grand kids will toss them out. Maybe they'll turn into antiques like the old leather bound classics I got from my mother. I do love antiques.

Almost as much as I love the future.

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