Everybody’s got one

Ahhh Winter Break! A time for catching up with family (in whatever form you find it manifested in your life), actually cooking something more complicated than cereal or Mac & Cheese, watching full series of British Sci Fi shows (or maybe that’s just me?) and possibly my favorite: staying up all night reading just because you can!

I find that I tend to this even more on my Kindle, possibly because I don’t see the pages all shift from the right hand to the left and realize just how many pages and thus hours I’ve been reading.

Which brings us to today’s topic: E-readers. I realize that every librarian on the web has a post about E Readers but like my three-and-a-half-year-old nephew I don’t want to be left out! I want one too! Also I have spent a large portion of my holidays discussing this topic with friends and family (in all its many manifestations). The most common reaction I receive from people when I mention my Kindle is “But you’re a librarian! Aren’t you supposed to love, you know, books!”

I have a lot of feelings about E Readers, actually. First off– yes I love book. I LOVE THEM. I love them so much I want to Marry Them. I love the way they smell when they are new and the way they smell when they are old. I love them when they have mysterious stranger-previous owner notes in the margin. I love them when they are newly off the press. I love them when they are big and I love them when they are small. In short I love all books and any book at all. (Did you catch the rhyme there? Huh? Huh? *smiles smugly and is quite pleased with herself*) There will always be printed books in my life. Harry Potter? I have all seven in hardback with library covers on the dust covers to keep them nice. Lord of the Rings? Leatherbound all in one edition. Chronicles of Narnia? The same boxed paperbacks that I’ve had since childhood. Little Women? The copy I got for Christmas from my mother. The Mists of Avalon? The very same hardback I read in high school that made me want to paint crescent moons on my forehead. Also my Grout History of Music that I used in undergrad which has… um… pictures that my friend drew in there during class when we got tired of listening to the professor talk about Gregorian Chant. These are physical page-and-ink books that will always be a part of my life. As well as my library school books that I will be keeping forever (probably).

I love physical books.
I also love my Kindle.

Because:

  • I tend to travel quite a bit and I don’t like having to decide which book to take with me. What if I get on the plane and I don’t want to read the Biography of Steve Jobs that I brought with me? What If I’m suddenly in a fantasy kind of mood? Remember back when we all had discmans and we had to decide what 10-15 cd’s to take with us on a trip? Remember how awful that was? Choosing! Deciding! Boo! #firstworldproblems Now we all have Ipods (or at least I do) and carry hours and DAYS of music around with us. I can’t go back to a discman. And I can’t go back to life without my Kindle when I travel.
  • I move a lot. A LOT! Books are big and heavy and a pain to move because they are HEAVY! But when they are electronic and fit in my Kindle they are neither big nor heavy.
  • I read a lot of pdf’s for my classes and reading endlessly on my computer screen hurts maa perty perty eyes. *blink blink* No, but seriously, eye strain sucks.

Also, I have to say that I am much more likely to buy a book if it is under $6 and can be delivered to me immediately because I am a product of the instant gratification generation. Sad but true.

I do, however, still borrow from the library. Two libraries in fact. I borrow from my university library and the public library. Quite a lot. Sometimes I will borrow a book from the library, realize I love it, get distracted with little things like school halfway through and then buy it on my kindle to read at the next school break. E-readers do not equal the death of the library. Now most libraries have e-books you can borrow from them and read on your e-reader. More on this later.

Then we get into the whole Kindle vs. Nook discussion. Ok.
I don’t quite understand the Kindle Fire. I get that it is color and streams movies and plays games– but so does my laptop. So if I want to do those things I use my laptop with a full keyboard and larger screen. And Honestly if I had an unquenchable need to do those things on something tablety I would buy an Ipad. (Which I don’t include as an e-reader because I view it as a whole different thing. Yes you can read books on it but you still get that glarey eye strain thing so what is the point really? Don’t get me wrong, Ipads are cool, but I find them personally completely redundant in my particular life.) If you compare the “regular” Kindle and the Nook then, the reader experience once the book is downloaded is basically exactly the same. Seriously. The major difference between the two is what books you can access.
This is where the two sides of my personality, let’s call them Lezbrarian and Dyke Who Reads A Lot, get into a fight in my head.

Lezbrarian prefers the Nook because it is Open Access. Open Access is cool. Look it up. Then say it with me: Open Access. That means that you can buy a book from lots of different places and read them on your Nook. Anyone who published in EPub format can be read on the Nook. That is cool. And Open Accessy. But you can’t read books from Amazon on your Nook because Amazon has an exclusive format.
The Kindle only reads the Amazon format, (and pdfs) and not Epub. This is a little like that girl in middle school who would only wear name brand jeans. I mean you Can do things that way, but it’s a bit unnecessary, really. So the Lezbrarian finds that annoying.

Dyke Who Reads A Lot, however, has been buying books from Amazon pretty regularly since she discovered it existed many years ago. She got a Kindle when Nook was still a baby who hadn’t worked its kinks out and then invested a fair bit of money into buying Amazon e-books. And while she likes the idea of Open Access A LOT every book she’s ever wanted to buy she has found on Amazon, so it’s not like her supply is limited.

So basically, if I were to purchase a brand new e-reader right now, I would probably get a Nook because (say it with me) OPEN ACCESS IS AWESOME. But since I’m pretty heavily invested in my Kindle that’s what I’m sticking with.

However, here we get back to the borrowing of books through the library on Overdrive which is what will put them on your Kindle. Libraries are all about privacy. That is Rule One. Rule 1 The Doctor Lies Privacy Privacy Privacy! We (librarians) won’t save your information or sell it to anyone. We purposely don’t keep it so we can’t hand it over to anyone who thinks they should look through a list of every book you’ve ever checked out in your life. We. Take. Privacy. Seriously. Overdrive, however, keeps your information. It remembers what you borrowed and then Amazon does as well. That may not bother you. I’m not sure that anyone will ever care that I had to check out Dune five times before I finally finished it, but you never know what the future holds (remember “Minority Report?”). So I think it is important for people to KNOW that. *I must admit here that I don’t know how the other library ebook providers work and how much of your information they keep. And this is because I don’t have another e-reader, I have a Kindle. But I’ll look it up and get back to you.*

The other issue that both Lezbrarian and Dyke Who Reads A Lot have issue with is that apparently, Overdrive is not an equal opportunity lender. Librarian in Black, a blog that I follow, posted about how not every library has the same access to all the books Overdrive could provide. Some libraries access is limited and that is NOT COOL! So go read about it on her blog. No really, go read it, I’ll wait.

Back? Okay. So these are all things that I think people should know about e-readers. These are the things I have tried to say in a non-biased way to any of my friends looking to buy an e-reader. I usually follow it with the observation that if we do have the same e-reader we can lend each other books (which is sweet) but that this should not be a determining factor. I honestly can’t advocate one reader heads and shoulders above the other one because like any choice it is a personal thing. I do think everyone should know all the pertinent information to the decision. Hence the post.
You’re Welcome Readers. Go forth and Read cool stuff.

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