Sunday, May 13, 2012

Guest Blogger #2 - Steve Solomon

The joy of e-reading…

I can’t tell you how many times I heard avid readers say, “There’s nothing like holding a book in your hands and feeling the pages.”  These are the same people who actually believe global warming is real, smoking causes cancer, Sarah Palin is stupid, and the Chinese can drive.

I wouldn’t exactly refer to myself as an avid reader, but I do enjoy a good story that’s well-written and keeps my interest; a page-turner, if you please.  In the past, a good year for me was reading about 2 or 3 books, usually either during vacation, on the can, or sometimes in bed, although reading usually took a backseat to watching a little TV before turning in.

In November 2007, Amazon introduced the Kindle, the first mainstream, affordable electronic reader and, of course, I needed to be one of the first to get one.  I thought it would be amazing to download books in a few seconds and be able to carry over 1,000 books in a device the size of a thin trade paperback.  After all, this is important for someone who reads 3 books a year (that’s 333 years worth of reading – very cool).  In addition, we were downsizing our home and moving into an apartment, and we didn’t have room for more books.  So, I bought my first Kindle and have been hooked ever since.  During the first few years of Kindelization, I tripled my reading output and just loved the fact that I could adjust the type-size, look up words in the built-in dictionary, highlight passages (although I never used this one), and always return to where I left off without using a bookmark.  And, as an extra bonus, I was able to read with one hand, and I never again had to hold pages from closing either on their own or from the wind when reading outside.  Oh man, it just doesn’t get any better than this.  Or, does it?

The Kindle is great, but if you don’t have it with you, like a book, you can’t read.  I used to watch our son reading books on his iPhone (another great product from the technology gods).  I would think, “How can you read a book on your phone…too small.”  So, I downloaded the Kindle app for the iPhone, and I have never gone back to my Kindle since.  It’s not really too small to read.  In fact, it’s larger than the print in the newspaper, and the functionality of the Kindle app for the iPhone (and iBooks for the iPhone bookstore) is even better than the Kindle itself.  You can read in the dark since the screen lights up, and you have “book extras” where you can get a summary of all the characters, important places, notes for parents, books like this, background info, and even glance at the electronic glossary and a synopsis of the book (great for book club folks).  And, are you ready for the really big one?  I now always have my books with me since my iPhone is with me at all times.  So, if I’m in the doctor’s office (which happens often at this stage of my life), I read.  If I’m at the car wash, I read.  If I’m at the airport waiting to pick someone up, I read.  Do you see a pattern here?  Now, I’m reading 15 to 20 books a year because my books are with me 24/7!  I’m still not in Lloyd’s class, but I’m closing in fast.

So, if you’re one of those people who likes the feeling of paper pages, enjoys black and white TV, dial telephones and eight-track tape cartridges, maybe electronic reading is not for you.  But, for the rest of us who believe that change is good and have accepted the fact that our children and grandchildren will be reading from phones, tablets and computers, you should perhaps heed the wisdom of one of our greatest presidents, George W. Bush…

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."

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