E-books and Print

In Glory Road, Heinlein has a character who can’t go to sleep and he asks for something to read.  “Words in a row” is the way he put it.  I remember that really resonating with me, as I have had a similar habit since even before I got into science fiction.[1]

So, I’m a pretty voracious reader.  When I started carrying a purse regularly, purse shopping took on some serious specifics. It had to be large enough to fit a couple of paperbacks.  Even so I had to leave some of my favorite epics at home whenever I travelled.[2]  I disliked that.

When e-readers became popular, I cheered.  Most of my favorite books really are words in a row.  Not too many diagrams or illustrations needed to supplement the text[3] and formatting page by page wasn’t a real issue.  It was the text that was the important thing.

So, I’m a big fan of e-readers.  I get a little frisson of delight when I slip my Kindle into my purse with its library of hundreds of books to choose from.  I like it even better when I am reading long computer manuals on travel and don’t have to carry those brick-like things with me and crowd out my fiction weight!

Does that mean I hate “dead tree” books?

Not in the least.  My copy of The Lord of the Rings in its red leather binding is a treasure to me.  I love the marriage of the art of the book craft as well as the story.  A book on origami or knitting is pointless on a Kindle.  The color illustrations that are large enough to see and understand are integral to the usefulness and beauty of the book.[4]

But when it’s words in a row that make the story and make the art, my oh my do I love my e-reader.

[1] I read my first science fiction story in the fourth grade.  “The Fun They Had” by Isaac Asimov.  That “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury were in our reading books that year.  I was hooked.

[2] Shogun, Mists of Avalon, a few others…

[3] Well, elvish rune, sure.  But other than that, not really.

[4] Yes, I know.  A tablet computer would handle those things much better.

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