Saturday, May 01, 2010

Who's on the Cutting Edge?

"When screen technology progresses sufficiently, the idea of using paper will become a total anachronism. Paper won’t record and store your notes or annotations; screens will." - Mike Shatzkin from his April 27, 2010 blog post "What I Would Have Said in London, Part 2"

Who's got a kindle? A Nook? A Sony e-reader? A Kobo? Oh, and there's that new thing from Apple everyone's tweeting about. The one with the unfortunate name. Just thought I'd check and see who's on the cutting edge.

Ed got a Nook for his birthday. The other night when he and I headed out for our hot date to a coffeehouse, I packed a few books and my novel manuscript into my backpack and hauled it to the car. When Ed climbed in, he wasn't carrying anything. "No book?" I asked. He said nothing. With a sly grin, he slowly opened his jacket to reveal his Nook tucked in the inside pocket.

When we went to a bed and breakfast a few weeks ago, I piled books and the novel manuscript into my book bag and lugged it to the car with my suitcase. Ed needed only a suitcase. No book bag. At breakfast, Ed took his Nook. He'd been reading a book (on his Nook) but decided he wanted to read a paper. He got up and looked around, but the owner explained that they didn't get the weekly paper. Ed sat back down, picked up his Nook and pushed a few buttons. "There," he said. In less than 30 seconds and for 99 cents he was reading the Wall Street Journal. The owner had to see it. Ed handed him the little machine and pointed out how the screen looks just like the newspaper or the book he's reading. The screen isn't backlit so, while you can't read in the dark without a book light, it's easier on the eyes than a computer. It keeps your place in the book and has a search function in case you want to go back and find something you missed.

I don't own one of these devices -- yet. I still read the old fashioned way. Books. You remember. The smell of paper. The feel of a hardcover in your hand. The sound of pages turning. Some people say they're on the way out. Relics. Antiques. A fad like 8-track tapes or VHS. I'm not quite ready to give it over to the new generation -- yet. Maybe next week.

Raise a hand if you've joined the e-reader clan. How's it working for you? And for the rest of us, what do you think? Will you be joining the e-reader generation anytime soon?