In Praise of Technology

bookstoreMy best memories are of being lost in a bookstore, sitting in a corner, seven books around me, surrounded by the inimitable aroma of paper, printing ink, and carton boxes. Heaven! Increasingly, that experience is out-of-reach. It is getting harder to sandwich a few hours of book-worship in the busy days of our lives, and when one does make one’s way to a bookstore, at least in North America, the smell of coffee and cookies drowns out the smell of paper and ink.

Grudgingly, therefore, I have come to accept my virtual bookstores on the iPad, on a website or on my eReader. The excitement of finding something new remains, even if the experience has fundamentally changed. I still enjoy browsing, reading a few chapters of a book before buying, and sometimes randomly picking up a book whose cover speaks to me.

I must admit, however, that I have come to really like the recommendation feature in an electronic bookstore. If you like this book, the logic goes, you might also like…. Implemented well, this feature can help readers reduce search-pain, and skip over the drudgery of reading all the blurbs behind each book cover. Over time, I have found myself using these features extensively. So, grudgingly, I have become an ebook store fan.

What about you? Given a choice, which kind do you prefer?


Why Not eBooks?

From being a diehard paperback fan I have switched sides and finally joined the eBook brigade. My husband bought me a Kindle when they first came out, and I resisted using it for two years—until one day, having run out of books and options, I grudgingly opened the device. It took me three clicks to download the book of my choice and I was on my way to my first digital reading experience; it blew me away.

The initial advantages were obvious. The eReader was light and easy to hold, it was well-lit, the words scrolled automatically, the pages didn’t have to be held open, and there was no danger of my losing my place.

But the revelation was the ease, convenience and accessibility of the ebook experience. Suddenly, I had access to a world of books not available at my local bookstore, could download books instantly rather than making the time to go to a bookstore to locate the book and could actually get a better price versus the paperback version. A whole new world of reading pleasure opened up.

I still enjoy going into a bookstore and browsing shelves full of books. But as a working mother, this is not something I can afford to do on a regular basis. In my limited time off, with minimal effort, I can dive straight into my reading pleasure—and I love that ebooks make this possible for me.

If you had a choice, which would you prefer?