Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tastes Like Chicken

Resistance was futile, though I’ll be the first to admit I offered little. With only the slightest nudge disguised as opportunity, I was assimilated into the happy ranks of e-readers.

 It all started with one Christmas gift, an afterthought, really. I expected to adore the diamond earrings and new iPhone, but when I unwrapped my Kindle, I was shocked, a little awestruck, and secretly relieved I didn’t have to abandon my principles and buy one for myself.  You see, until very recently, I was at best wary of e-books and at worst, their vocal opponent .

My reticence stemmed from fear. Plain and Simple. E-books struck panic in my writer’s heart. Even though I heard them billed as the future of publishing, I didn’t care to listen. E-books were EVIL. They were single-handedly destroying the big-box book stores, and with their vile little readers, were diminishing my opportunities for publication.  

In my ignorance, I thought e-books were a writer’s enemy. How could an author be properly compensated by a percentage of $3.99 per unit when the list price on the paperback version is set somewhere around $7.99? Imagine my surprise when I went to the Kindle store and purchased my first e-book for—you guessed it—$7.99. While I wasn’t looking, e-book pricing had become more competitive with traditional books. After the most cursory of investigations, my erroneous theory is busted.

My next big hurdle was losing the sensory experience of reading a book. The tactile sensation of paper sliding through your fingers, the sound of pages turning, and the smell of a freshly bound book contributed heavily to my enjoyment. But you must also weigh that against the finger calluses from too much page turning, and the sheer weight of a print book. Let’s face it.  If you read as much as I do, you’re looking at blisters and carpal tunnel after a single rainy weekend. In weight alone, the Kindle wins, hands down (pun intended).

My final big concern (believe me, there were plenty of small ones, too. I can pick nits with the best of them) was convenience. The majority of my last year was spent in doctor’s offices and hospitals while my husband underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia. When you spend anywhere from six to twelve hours in close quarters, and I do mean close, trying to be helpful when needed and invisible when not, I cannot overstress the value of quiet entertainment. But carrying multiple books can be cumbersome and heavy. With an e-reader you have access to the entire book store without having to lug it around.

Despite minor downsides, such as typos in scanned and reformatted backlist books— point non plus appeared in a recent read as point rum plus—I have grown to love my e-reader. As the new publishing model unfolds, I have no doubt their popularity will only rise.

So now I’m stuck chewing a mouthful of loud, impassioned words, and I must say they’re not all that bad. In fact, most of them taste like chicken.

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