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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Getting the hang of eReading


Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son has the distinction of being the first book I read on my Kobo eReader. I remember the hype when the book first came out in 2004 and its floated around in my mind’s ‘to be read’ list since then.  When Borders first released their free eReader application last month they had an offer that when you downloaded the app you could also download five former bestsellers.  Koontz’s Frankenstein was one of them, so I took advantage of it.  I'll post my thoughts on the novel tomorrow.

The Kobo was a gift to myself for passing the national certification exam for massage therapists.  I never thought I’d be one to get an eReader, but I do have a bit of an inner gadget geek. I decided on the Kobo because the price was right and it has NO bells and whistles to distract me from reading such as music or a WiFi connection. I also like the eInk technology. It’s easy on the eyes and there’s no glare when you’re reading outside.

My Mom called me a traitor for buying an eReader.

It took me some time to get used to reading on the Kobo. There were/are three challenges for me:

First was getting the page turn right. One of the criticisms the Kobo has received is that the page turn is slow. I have nothing to compare it to, so that doesn’t bother me. I just got into a groove of knowing how many lines before the end of the page to hit “next” so the flow of my reading wasn’t interrupted. To me this is no different than putting my finger on the top of the page to get ready to turn it over. I'm not a very fast reader, so while it isn't a big deal for me, it might be for fast readers.

The second issue was one that I think I may have with each new eBook that I start. As I sat there holding the Kobo and started to read, I found myself missing the physical book. Holding a flat piece of plastic felt odd. I wanted to feel the paper of the book, feel the pages flutter under my thumb, look at the cover art, re-read the hype on the back of the book, see the author’s picture, etc. But once I was into the story those--habits?--went away and the experience became all about the story itself.  And there is purity to that: no marketing gimmicks, no one else’s interpretation of what the characters look like, why the book is so profound, groundbreaking, etc. After all, I read for the story and not to consume a package put together by a marketing team.

The third issue is not being able to underline passages or put sticky notes on a passage as I was reading. Yes, even with genre fiction like horror and mystery I find myself doing that. I know some eReaders have the ability to highlight text or bookmark a page. The Kobo does not. I do keep a hand-written reading journal, so what I’ll do in the future is jot down the chapter and page that the passage/idea was on and then go back to it when I have time.
Other than those adjustment issues, I’m enjoying reading on my Kobo. One unexpected benefit of an eReader is it’s easier to read hands-free. You just occasionally hit the next button rather than struggling to hold the book open, spill your lunch on it, or commit bibliocide by completely breaking the spine to get it to lay flat.  And being able to read outside with absolutely no glare makes me very happy.

I do have a confession to make: After finishing the eBook I looked at the hard copy of the book the next day at work to make sure the “real” book actually ended like the eBook did. I’m afraid of the eBook missing parts of the "real" book.

Does anyone else have that fear or am I just paranoid?

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