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:~: Thursday, March 30, 2006 :~:

I Was an E-book Virgin

I have a true confession to make . . . until this week, I'd never read an e-book. Before anyone gets upset, this little fact had nothing to do with a perception that e-books might be of lower quality than traditional print books -- I have friends who are multi-pubblished in e-format, and Lord knows they're all enormously talented. It had more to do with the reality that I'd just never done it, the same as I've never downloaded music from the Internet. Because I'm busy, I tend to like things that are convenient -- to me, it's more convenient to punch in a radio station than it is to download music.

But I won a free e-book from Samhain Publishing in a contest at Writeminded. I was excited -- I like trying new things, I like a good deal, and what's better than free stuff?

I spent a couple days perusing my options at Samhaim, talking over possibilities with one of my CP's. The titles and excerpts were interesting, and although some of the covers were a tad hokey, who hasn't seen a hokey cover on a print book in Books-A-Million?

Finally, I decided on a book (which will remain nameless for now -- I'm going to review it later), went through the purchasing process and settled in to read.

It didn't take me long to realize that for now the e-book experience isn't for me.

This had nothing to do with the quality of the book -- the story was charming, and any grammar errors were nothing I haven't found in traditionally published novels.

I'd already noticed during the browsing process that prowling for an e-book simply isn't the same as looking for a print book. Buying books for me usually involves a trip to my local bookstore, where I chat with the owner about our mutual love of books and sample books from many sections. I pick them up, read the back blurb, check out the first few pages, flip to the end and look at it.

Can't do that with an e-book. I'll admit I had a hard time shopping without Leigh's conversation and the heavenly smell of her freshly brewed coffee hanging around me.

But I had my book, thanks to a handy .pdf download. So I got comfortable in my desk chair and began reading at my laptop.

Unfortunately, just as purchasing the e-book didn't measure up to my bookstore experiences, the reading experience didn't make the cut, either. First, I'm a fast reader -- I'd have to wait at the bottom of every page for the next page to load, which frustrated me. I wanted to turn the page, darn it!

Second, I like to write in books -- I know it's weird, but I think it's a holdover from my English major days. I mark passages I like, make connections, etc. Kinda hard to write on my laptop screen.

Third, every single time I've sat down with this particular e-book, I read a few chapters, and then the download freezes my computer. A good ol' Stephen King hardback sometimes freezes the breath in my throat, but I've never had it crash my hard drive, either.

So the final point is this -- I'm not an e-book virgin anymore, but I'm not about to have a wild fling with a series of them, either. Are there other books, other authors out there I'd like to read in e-format? Of course. But the reality for me remains that right now, the experience of an e-book isn't more convenient or more appealing than curling up on my porch, with the wind rippling the wind chimes above me, and devouring a great Monica Jackson or Tayari Jones read. If I can get my hands on one of the smaller devices that make it more convenient and more like a traditional reading experience, I'm all for it, baby!

What about you? Are you an e-book virgin? Or an e-book enthusiast? Any tips for improving my electronic reading experiences? Any must-read books or authors in electronic format?


Blogger Elisa said...

Anything by Katherine Allred is excellent, but especially The Sweet Gum Tree (www.cerridwenpress.com). It's one of the most emotional books I've read, e-book or print.

As for reading e-books, I have a pocket PC I load them onto so I can curl up on the couch and read. Not exactly the same as a print book, but close. The pocket PC is great for going on vacation, since I can load 10 e-books onto it and not overload my suitcase with 10 paperbacks. *g*

My reading is usually split 50-50 between e-books and print. I read the blurbs and the excerpts, and then read the reviews before I decide if I'm going to buy.

1:27 AM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

One of the girls in my chapter (also a Samhain author) has a handheld and loads tons of books on it. She loves it. But i'm like you, I hate reading on screen, but I do.

I like Lena Matthews! And (of course) my CP Raine Weaver.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Congrats on finding e-books and losing it. We definitely still respect you.

To me, ebooks are sweet, naughty instant gratification, best utilized at 2 in the morning when my husband's on the road and I need a hot romance. Not crazed for screen-reading, but will make do. I've got no pref for publishers -- small house, big. Newbie, old fave author.

Nice site; great name!

4:59 PM  

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