Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Newest Obsession

I have a tendency toward obsession. No, really, I do. And it usually expresses itself with me spending all of my time on whatever is obsessing me at the moment. The result is often that other things (possibly other things that have been an obsessions themselves in the past) become ignored and neglected in their turn. This blog is an example of things that get moved down the priority list, but have been an obsession in the past. Twitter has been a recent casualty also, as have many of the blogs I read thru Google Reader. Farmville (and Facebook in general) is currently enjoying an exemption, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. ;p

My current obsession is very insidious as it involves the one and only obsession that I have returned to again and again and again throughout my life. Books! No matter what else has caught my attention over all the many years of my life, reading books has always been in the background. Oh, I might move from reading a couple of books a week down to one of so a month, but I always return to my love of books. Often summer, with its wonderful outside opportunities will distract me, but winter, with it’s long nights and cold outside, will draw me back and increase my word count.

One of the drawbacks to loving books is that I have collected many, many, many books over the years. Even though I buy very few hardback books (paperbacks are smaller, easier to carry around, and –bonus- cheaper), storing books has always been an issue. If I enjoyed a book, I tend to hold on to it. Also, if a book is part of a series, I will be hesitant to let it slip thru my hands because many times the newest book in a series will bring about the desire to reread the earlier books, particularly if it has been a long time since the author last graced us with a book in that series. I buy less books when I have access to a good library, which makes my wallet happy, but they are still one of my favorite and most frequent expenses.

Every since I first became aware of e-books back in the early 90’s, I thought that they were a wonderful idea. A wonderful idea in theory, but in the execution of the idea…. not so much. To read a book on a computer screen is not an optimal reading experience. While a textbook, or technical manual, would benefit from the ease of searching on the computer, a fiction book would suffer from the inability to easily transport the book and/or the ability to curl up in bed and read about the newest adventures of my favorite characters. Even if you have a laptop, the experience left a lot to be desired. Printed books were still the best way to consume and enjoy fiction.

The advent of dedicated e-readers seemed to be a step in the right direction, but they offered their own set of problems. The first readers, which many don’t realize came out waaaaay before the introduction of the Amazon Kindle and it’s dedicated bookstore, suffered from a lack of books published for them, a relatively high price, and the fact that most people were just discovering computers and just weren’t tech savvy enough for them yet. They mostly crashed and burned. I waited.

Then, Amazon got into the game with the Kindle. I looked, I drooled, I coveted…. but I did not buy. While it finally brought e-books to the masses by making them simple to use, easy to buy, affordable, and –using their power as a major distributor—finally getting many, many books available in e-book form from publishers, the price for the reader was prohibitive, and the e-reader itself very proprietary… thus making it difficult to read anything not bought thru Amazon’s very own Kindle store.

I watched, I waited, I coveted.

Other e-readers entered the market, and competition started bringing the prices into reach. Other companies started adopting something called e-pub, a more universal format that allowed you to buy books from other places and still be able to read them on different platforms. Still… price/availability/ ease of use, not there yet.

Then came my 50th birthday and my hubs desire to get me something a bit more pricey than our standard birthday gifts. He made a proclamation. I had until my birthday to look at all of my options (Kindle, Sony, Kobo, Nook, Ipad and others) and to choose one. That would be my present.

I researched online.  I went to stores where I could get a hands on feel for the ones available locally. I read what others said. I researched some more. The decision wasn’t easy. The Sony, Nook and I-pad were available for me to touch, feel, try out. The Kindle wasn’t available locally (although that has changed in the last week –Target now carries them) but has a wonderful following of early adopters, who all seem to love it, including a couple of people I know personally. The Kobo had a great price point, but was only available thru ordering. Each one had it’s good (and bad) points. My final decision came down to ease of use, ability to borrow books in e-format from my local library, and….. superficial, I know, but the way the reader looked and felt.

Finally it was my Birthday week and a decision was demanded. I made my choice……. Welcome to my newest obsession:



I have owned it for less than a month and I have already read 4 books borrowed from my local library, 2 books I have downloaded from B&N for free, and I have several books waiting in my TBR list. both in my wish list on the Barnes&Noble e-book store and the one with my local library.

I adore my newest little obsession. It is light (weighing about what a paperback does), it will hold up to 1500 books in it’s built in 2 gig of memory –plus I am able to add memory with a memory card, adding up to 16 gig more. memory. It will display my own pictures (although only in black and white) as screensaver/backgrounds. Because I bought it just before Father’s day, and right before the price drop **sigh**, it came with a $50 gift card toward purchase of books. The price dropped by $50 a few days ago, but I don’t feel too bad since I got the gift card with mine, making the actual cost about the same. It will also play music/podcasts/audio books with it’s built in audio player, and even offers a rudimentary web browser (think cell phone).

It feels very like reading a paperback because G also bought me a cover for it to protect it from bumps and scratches that is a very soft leather and opens up and folds around it while reading and makes it about the size, heft, and feel of reading a paperback book. It gives me a choice of 5 font sizes so I can increase or decrease the size of the words based on where I am reading, available light, or other factors. Barnes and Noble offers several free books (about 95,000 –many are books out of copyright, but some are ‘sample’ books from some really good authors they want you to try so if you like them you will buy there other books!) in addition you are able to ‘sample’ any book before buying. If you see a book, but aren’t sure you would like it, you are able to download the first couple of chapters to read for free. I am also able to buy books thru Borders, Sony, and any other outlet that sells with the e-pub or pdf file formats.

Currently I am reading Bullet by Laurell K Hamilton, which I borrowed from the library for free. One of the conveniences of my Nook is ease of obtaining my next book. Earlier this evening I finished the book I was reading (Flirt, also by Ms Hamilton). I had several options at this point. I have some books already on my reader I haven’t read yet, I could bring up the Barnes & Noble e-store right on my Nook and search for/buy/ and download a new book using my wi-fi connection (or if a wi-fi connection is not available using the FREE 3G cellular connection built right in) or I could grab my laptop, go online and choose a book from my Library’s e-book selection, download it, and ‘side load’ it on my Nook. It actually takes longer to type that than to do the  download and move the book over from my laptop :)  I chose to browse my wish list from the library, saw that Bullet was in and available for download, and decided on that…. all without leaving the comfort of my couch. Yep… obsessed and, quite possibly, in love!


Toon said...

Very cool...looks like something my dog would chew up and destroy!

Astaryth said...

@Toon -- Oh no... I have named it My Precious and it is protected from any and all critters ;)
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Donna said...

Wait a minute... you can get books from the library onto your kindle??? Did I understand that correctly?

Astaryth said...

Nope... you can't get books from the library on a -Kindle- ... however, I own a Nook (from Barnes and Noble) and you CAN get them for it. Also the Sony e-readers will work with a library system. Amazon set Kindles up to use -their- proprietary files and they won't read e-pub, which is what libraries are using. That proprietary file system and not being able to borrow library books is what put the Kindle out of the running for me. Also, check with your local Library system. Not all of them are doing e-books yet. I live close to a college town and the library I use has them.

If you are interested in an e-reader, I did a -lot- of research and ended up liking the Nook the best. And, they just came out with a new lower priced version last week. You can now get one for $149 . It just doesn't have the 3G in it (which is like a cell phone signal). You have to use a wi-fi network (which I know you have) or 'side-load' your books.... which basically means you connect it to your computer. If you have any questions about any of the readers, just ask.... like I said, I did a bunch of research on them just this last month :)

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Rising Rainbow said...

Happy Birthday! and enjoy your new toy.

Brenda Grolle said...

I've never seriously considered an e-reader, but your post is making me rethink my position in the future.

I know what you mean about obsessions. I've found that I'm a better blogger in the winter. I've been failing miserably this summer, what with the kids home from school and lots of outdoor gardening to do. Plus, I am very much into the Facebook games and Runescape right now.

Astaryth said...

@Brenda Facebook games.... my shameful timesuck LOL! If you are even considering an e-reader, now is the time to keep an eye out. There is a 'price war' going on between the 3 top selling brands. I did a lot of research and found the Nook to be a good fit for me, but there is nothing wrong with any of the others :) My only caveat is that if your local library offers e-books, and you want to borrow them, don't get a Kindle (or Ipad). They do not do the 'lending' thing. That may change as people ask for it, but currently only Sony readers and the Nooks are for sure. I -think- the Kobo is going to work when it is released, but I don't have any experience with them, so can't say.
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Carlene Noggle said...

Now you have me wanting one!!!!

BosieLadie said...

AWESOME!!! And, Happy Birthday!! I've been looking at the e-readers too, well, just thinking about looking. I want one!