Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag...

Do you have an eReader yet? I just got my first one, a Nook Simple Touch from Barnes & Noble. Some people have expressed surprise that a librarian has an eReader, as if we were all the Priestesses at the Temple of the Codex Format, but that is far, far from the truth. Our system, the Upper Hudson Library System, created a circulating collection of digital downloadable books, audio and video five years ago, around the time the Kindle came out.

I like gadgets, but a few things held me back from buying one. One, I'm cheap thrifty, and it was hard to justify the purchase of a reader when I have daily access to All the Books. Two, I was waiting for the kinks to get worked out of the technology, which can take a few generations. Three, I was letting other people (friends and reviewers) test out the various models for me. I have been waiting a while. The first reader I saw was in 1998, the Rocketbook, a hefty specimen weighing 22 oz, which could hold 10 books. (Today's readers weigh a third of that, and hold 1000s of books....)

I have to say, reviews were mixed. My nephew took his Kindle to Iraq with him, where he mostly read free books. A librarian friend found that the books she liked to read for fun, romance novels, weren't often available in eBook format (This was a while ago). But there were also people who lovedlovedloved their readers. People who put them in a gallon sized ziplock bag and read happily, while taking a bath. Knitters who downloaded their patterns on to their readers. Friends who cited their ease and portability...

The tipping point for me started a few months ago when the price for two new models of readers dropped down to my level. It was cinched a few weeks ago when I had to take an unexpected plane flight alone. I did a lot of people-watching on the trip, and noticed how very many people were reading on their nifty little devices. A friendly couple sitting next to me on one leg of the journey each had a reader, and showed me the features they liked and disliked. I was increasingly intrigued..... 

During the trip I spent time on a family member's tablet computer. I liked it, and I enjoyed using the touch screen. I'd once had a (non-smart) phone with a touch screen, but where that had been an unsatisfying interface, the screen on the tablet was so easy to use--in fact, I found myself trying to use imaginary touchscreens on TVs, and other appliances.

A few days into this trip I decided to spring for a reader, a little comfort-food for the soul, if you will--it was either that or a cocker spaniel-sized chunk of chocolate. Although I had liked using the tablet, I didn't want a tablet/reader that had the distractions of email, video, and web surfing. I wanted a reader that was small and light, and not back-lit, which can make it harder on the eyes.

My choice came down to two: the Kindle and the Nook. Both were the same price, so with the help of a young sales-person, I ran through the features of each, and ended up at the cash register with a Nook. A short time later, I was downloading books from the library system's website, so I'd have reading matter on the flight home.

Do I like it? Yes, a lot. It fits into my purse. I bought a little clip on light for it, and have made two covers for it. I've read several books on it, more than I have in a while, downloaded more books, and organized my books into "shelves". The shelf with the knitting patterns is well-stocked.  

In November, on Wednesday the 9th, at 6:00 pm, we'll have a forum at the library with demos of various readers. If you have a reader, and want to share your experiences, or ask questions about downloading library books onto it, come on down. If you are thinking of getting a reader, or researching a reader holiday purchase, come on down.

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