To E...or Not to E? Review
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About a year ago, my friend and colleague, John, was preparing for a trip overseas. John is the kind of guy who likes to pack ridiculously light, so he spent quite a bit of time contemplating which books to bring along with him—because, while he loves to read, a week’s worth of reading would take up a lot of space in his hiking backpack. So that’s when John went out and bought himself an ebook reader.

Though he was hesitant about spending hundreds of dollars on the device, John’s new reader was everything he hoped it would be. When he came back from his trip, he couldn’t stop talking about how it was worth every penny. It was small and portable. It could fit a library full of books. And it felt so realistic that he sometimes found himself trying to turn the pages. Since then, I’ve never seen John with a paperback in his hands.

I, however, never leave home without one.

Sure, when ebooks first hit the market years ago, I was intrigued—and I was thrilled by the possibilities. I even borrowed a reader from the library a few years ago—just to give it a shot. But I haven’t broken down and bought one yet. I’ll admit, though, that I’m intrigued by John’s reader—and there are so many reasons why I should save my pennies and get one of my own. After all, the thought of carrying around dozens of books in one tiny reader is definitely appealing. I could get a smaller bag—and I might even stop leaning to one side when I walk, weighed down by a bag full of books. Not only that, but so many up-and-coming authors are finding it easier to break into writing with ebooks—and it would be nice to be able to take them with me instead of being tied to my computer to do my reading. Add to that the fact that it would save forests full of trees, and it seems like a no-brainer. And yet, I can’t seem to take the plunge.

Perhaps I’m just a technophobe. Sure, I run an online publication. I spent most of my day glued to my computer. And I break into a cold sweat if my Internet connection goes down for even a few minutes. But when it comes to gadgets, I recoil. When my colleagues pull out their Blackberries after a movie to check their email, I pull out my phone to check…the time. And I tried to use a PDA for a while—I tried really hard. But I ended up going back to my good old-fashioned, non-technical Franklin planner and my favorite fountain pen. While I loved the portability of the PDA—and I loved that it made noises to remind me of deadlines and appointments—something about it just didn’t feel right.

Go ahead. Call me old-fashioned. But I like my pen and paper. In fact, as I’m writing this, it’s with pen in hand, scribbling in a lined journal. So when it comes to scheduling and to-do lists and notes, I turn to my planner. And when it comes to reading, I tend to reach for a book—a papery one, with pages I can turn. A big, bulky book that takes up space in my bag and gives my spine a slight curve to the right.

But there’s one more reason why I’m not entirely ready to make the switch: I love books. I love the feel of the pages. I love the smell of the paper. I love them when they’re new; I love them when they’re old and worn and a little bit musty. And I love my bookshelf. While I don’t often go back and re-read books, I love to look at them. And I don’t keep every book I’ve read, but I do keep the special ones. And while I could probably live in a smaller house if I, like John, traded page for screen and never turned back, I’m just too attached to those bright-colored spines—and all the memories I can relive and the stories I can remember just by turning around and glancing over at those shelves.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not preaching an anti-ebook message. On the contrary, I think ebooks are a wonderful idea—and they’re great for new writers. I’ve read all kinds of amazing ebooks—and if you haven’t tried one for yourself, you’re missing out. I also think that, someday, they’ll save lots of trees—and even a few spines. And I have every intention of increasing my E intake. In fact, if you’d like to buy me a Christmas present, you’ll find a reader on my Amazon wish list. But until someone figures out a way to recreate the feel and the smell of a paperback, you won’t see me giving up my books—even if it means having to buy a bigger house.

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