Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Dirty Little Secret Behind e-Books

Up to now, books were never considered impulse purchases--except maybe at airports, but even then you had to be physically present where books were sold to buy one. I have a number of friends who enjoy nothing more than browsing a bookstore; spending an hour or more before finally selecting some carefully considered tome--or just going home empty-handed.

My spouse is not one of those types but will quickly look over what's new by an author she's familiar with or has recently read about and sometimes (rarely) not buying anything at all. For her though, being without a book to read for any length of time eventually becomes something of a crisis.

I have a different attitude about books. I can make a book last forever and occasionally will stop reading one for weeks while I read another. I got so tired of Follett's World Without End (which I dubbed book without end) that I put it away for a couple of months before finally knocking off the final 100 pages last week. As a Nook owner with a slightly compulsive personality, I have to resist the urge to buy more books than I will ever read. It is SO incredibly easy to buy a book on a whim that you can, like I did recently, forget you bought something until you browse your Nook library and discover it. The good folks at Barnes and Nobles are in touch with me nearly everyday via email offering incredible buys on some book I simply MUST have. But they're not the only one touting books.

Used to be, I'd see an ad or read a review of a book in the NYT or elsewhere and make a mental note to take a look at it next time I was in a bookstore. Not anymore, especially if I'm reading the ad or review online. Both Barnes and Nobles and Amazon know me and greet me with a friendly "Hi Bob" whenever I access their sites. In mere seconds I can become the proud owner of the book in question. Before e-Books, I forgot about most of the books I intended to read before ever getting to the bookstore.

Sometimes, in moments resembling clarity I will download an excerpt instead. This usually will cure me of ordering the book because whoever it is selecting stuff to excerpt usually picks some god-awful section (actually, I don't think there is much "picking" involved with excerpts.) As interested as I initially was in The Autobiography of Mark Twain, the interminable Preface they chose to excerpt was all I needed to convince me I had no interest in reading it.
Unfortunately, today, I was not so wise and downloaded The Game of Thrones simply because I saw some action-heavy sequence from the upcoming HBO production of the book. George R. R. Martin damned-well better be this generation's J. R. R. Tolkien or I'm going to be pissed.

One last thing: I own a Nook, Barnes and Nobles, and can't imagine why I would need a new Nook Color. E-ink still only comes in black, doesn't it? OK, you've got magazines now too.


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