Book Alert!

Instead of writing, I am procrastinating of course. I like to peruse the daily deals that Amazon has for the Kindle. If you got a few coins to spare, they are selling Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater for $2.99 and Peter Bryant’s Red Alert for $1.99–the latter being the book that was adapted into Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Toward the end of my procrastination, I also discovered a ton of ebooks that are incredibly cheap (under $6). They are called RosettaBooks and as I was looking through the list, I noticed that they offer some books that have been out-of-print for sometime.

Have I Gone Over to the Bookish Dark Side?

In between eating an obscene amount of homemade Christmas cookies, I’ve been reading–a lot. I would have read regardless of my most recent bookish event, but I admit it, probably not as much. Yes, you might remember an earlier post titled, “Fahrenheit 451: What’s the Temperature at Which E-Books Burn?” In that post, I was undecided about which side of the divide I landed on. Because I had no experience with e-readers and am a lover of books and bookstores, I concluded that my interaction with this new book technology would be relegated to my future and not my present.

However, this has all changed. A recent gift from my mother in the form of a  Kindle Touch has led me to expand and reinterpret my opinion. I made an evaluation considering both sides and I happen to agree with my original opinion: I love paper books and will always love them. If I want a copy of a book that I am very passionate about (for example, a work by Kafka), I will always purchase the book copy, flip back-and-forth through it, underline great passages and make margin notes. For books that I do not require copies of and have no real attachment to, I have decided to put them on the Kindle.

I first started thinking about it when I read the post, On Papers and Electrons, over at Multo (Ghost). Besides the secret trashy book element to an e-reader, adding classics from the public domain was a real winning aspect. So far, I have added 7 books to the Kindle and my grand total: $0. Instead of lugging around my 600+ page copy of The Woman in White with me, I downloaded it and according to the Kindle, am 80% through the entire book. Another feature which I definitely approve of is providing two dictionaries. You tap on a word and can read the definition, which is particularly handy when you are reading a classic work and the term might be archaic.

So, whether or not I have crossed to the dark side might not actually be a quandary worth contemplating over. The important points to take away are that I think with both my collection of paper books and e-books, I will be reading so much more (finally, my life long dream of reading the collected works of Leo Tolstoy on the subway can now be complete!) and saving money. Those public domain books that booksellers usually charge between $3-$10 have become free to me and I can also access the e-book collection of the New York Public Library.

Regardless of what venue you enjoy your books in, I hope you always have happy readings.

“Fahrenheit 451: What’s The Temperature At Which E-Books Burn?”

That’s the question that NPR asked yesterday. The article alerted me to the irony that Ray Bradbury’s great novel, Fahrenheit 451, was coming to an e-reader near you.

Reported by the Associated Press:

First published in paperback by Ballantine in 1953 and as a hardcover by Simon & Schuster in the 1960s, “Fahrenheit 451” has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 33 languages. It imagined a world in which the appetite for new and faster media leads to a decline in reading, and books are banned and burned. Bradbury himself has been an emphatic defender of traditional paper texts, saying that e-books “smell like burned fuel” and calling the Internet nothing but “a big distraction.”

Ever since this new technology made an appearance, I have always been a staunch supporter of the traditional paper-and-ink type of book. Admittedly, many more trees go into the production of a physical book than one that is downloaded, but I love to see the design of the book’s cover up front and personal, take out my favorite inky black pen and underline and notate to my heart’s content, and flip back and forth through the prose to remind myself of earlier parts.

However, with the December holidays approaching, I have seen so many more articles and blogs talking about what gifts to get book lovers. I bet 99% of them all mention a Kindle, Nook, etc. When I’m riding the crowded subway, I totally see the appeal of having a small device that you press instead of giving the man next to you a dirty look as you try to maneuver your next page turn. Also, we all forsake our scholarly pursuits at times and indulge in the occasional guilty pleasure. Then the question arises: Should I just take my iPod with me instead or hastily construct a paper-bag book cover à la elementary school so no one on the F train will judge me?? The scenario–well, isn’t it easier to take one e-reader with you on vacation than three heavy books?–is always posed (which I swiftly rebut with: Ah, I’m a poor writer. I don’t go on vacation). But I do understand the logic for all of those holiday-takers.

So, has my opinion changed on the e-reader? Perhaps. Although, I still love a good book, when the day comes for me to go through my Harlequin romance phase, I bet an e-reader will be right at the top of my wish list but for now, I’ll still be perusing the shelves of my favorite bookstores.

Oskar Werner & Julie Christie