I Read an eBook and I’m Not Sure How I Feel About it

One of my favorite videos out of the past couple years is “B*tches in Bookshops,” a parody of a Yeezy/Jay-Z collaboration that contains the line: “You use a Kindle? I carry spines.” These are words I live my life by. I don’t really care how the technology has changed so you can highlight, annotate, not get as much eye fatigue, whatever.

But. To complete the staff reading challenge I’ve been participating in, I had to read an eBook. Part of working in a library means evolving with technology, so the idea is to understand all the resources we have available to patrons. My mother lent me her iPad.

I chose to check out a children’s book, which may have been cheating. I picked more or less at random from our online catalog and settled on one with a beautiful cover illustration, Emily Winfield Martin’s Dream Animals.

I was disappointed in my experience, and not because of the content of the book. I specifically chose to read a picture book to see how the transfer of the images felt to me . I don’t really like kids, but I loved to read when I was young and I’m still astounded by the beauty of some of the illustrations I see in the genre. And even with a zoom feature, that teeny little iPad screen simply cannot compare to having a bound copy in my hands that’s huge and where I could see the brush strokes. Maybe if I had one of those iMacs the size of a TV screen the experience wouldn’t have been so alienating…but I wonder. Maybe I just need to get over myself on this matter, but my thought as I turned those e-pages was, “Just….no.”

I don’t think I can realistically stay a Luddite forever. And maybe it is unfair to have tried to read an eBook with little text. And as someone with a strong interest in writing, I can’t deny the possibilities the eBook revolution could afford me. But as someone who has watched her favorite local independent bookstore get smaller and smaller every year and seen the big box comforts of my suburban adolescence shrink and vanish, I’m not sure I’m there yet.

I always welcome comments, but in this case I actively solicit them. I want to know where you stand on the issue of Kindles vs. Spines and where I’ve got it wrong.

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