Monday, July 28, 2014

Digital Books, Not My Thing!

Some people seem to think that books printed on paper will disappear.  I sure hope not.

I'm currently reading my third book in digital format and I can't say that I like the experience.  Other than the fact that I can read in low light, without using additional electricity, I don't see much of an advantage.  In fact, it seems that just as I get to an exciting part, I have to plug the darn thing in and recharge it.  Or often, the unit is recharging at the end of the day, when I'd like to settle down and read for a while.  Not convenient.  I'd like to pick up my book whenever I like, not just when it has enough juice to accommodate me.

I find I really have to pay attention to what chapter I'm on, because a finger can slip and cause the pages to scroll by.  One time I ended up at the end of the book, when really I wasn't even halfway through it. Since page numbers don't automatically show up on the page, it was hard to find my way back to where I was. I quickly learned to make some mental note of at least what chapter I an reading.

Then today I got a scare.  I'm reading "George, a Gentleman of the Road" by P.A. Davies.  This is a talented British writer that I actually met on Facebook.  He offered me to send me one of his digital books, totally free of charge.  I even got to choose which one.  When I had trouble opening the file he sent me, he pointed out when Amazon was offering the book for free about a month later. I got it then.  I have been thoroughly enjoying it, but I thought I lost it today. 
I have a tablet that has a few different apps for books on it, including Kindle. Every time I have opened Kindle lately, it has told me that I have an unauthorized book in there, and asked if I want to delete it.  I have several books in there and this notification was not telling me which of them I was about to lose, so no, I did not want to delete it.  Some of them I paid for, and the free ones would no longer be free.  I seemed to be able to continue reading the one I was in the middle of, with no problem, so I continued to dismiss this notice.  Until today.  I got distracted and hit the wrong button. The book that disappeared was the one I was reading. I groaned so loud you could hear me all over the house!  I'm well into this book.  In fact, I've read 82% now, and as much as I'm enjoying it, I wouldn't want to have to buy the book with so little left to read. 

I went to Amazon, and saw it offered for a price, so I started to wonder if I could get it through inter library loan. I doubted our local library would have it.  I checked my Amazon account and it just showed that I had been looking at the book recently, but it did not show up amoung my orders.  I just happened across a spot where Amazon had a button that said "Manage Your Kindle"   so I clicked on that.  There it was, George, listed among my other Kindle books.  I clicked on that and it had an option to send it to my device, so I chose that. I was able to breath a major sigh of relief when the book showed up on my tablet again, among my collection.  I can finish reading it now, and I'm very grateful for that. I had just reached a part of the story where there was a major turn of events, and I wanted to know what would happen next.  Now I can go find out. 

Apparently Amazon keeps a record of every book you buy in case you need to re-download them for any reason. If you delete or lose a book, or purchase a new Kindle, you can simply connect to Amazon's servers and begin rebuilding your library.  I won't panic next time this happens.  But I still hope there will never be a next time. 

I've taken the tablet outdoors on a nice summer day, thinking I could relax and read for a while.  I had to come back in as I couldn't see the screen in all that sunlight.  Maybe real e-readers can handle that.  I don't know.  I just know my tablet cannot, and I certainly have not been convinced to give up my paper books for one of those yet.

Though I have been using a computer since the days of the Commodore 64, I find I am strangely not ready to turn to technology when it comes to reading.  In fact, when faced with a page full of text on my computer, I generally turn on Read Please, and sit and listen while the page is read to me. My eyes don't seem to like to track all those words across a screen.  Reading a book on the tablet is at least better than that.

I have a pile of old fashioned non-digital books waiting for me, and I'll happily turn to them when I simply want to read and relax in the future.

As for the rest of you, if you haven't read George, A Gentleman of the Road, I urge you to seek it out. It's a heartwarming and often amusing story I'm sure you will enjoy. It's also available in paperback.
As for myself, now I'll be looking for a copy of Letterbox and The Good in Mister Philips by the same author. Paul, P.A Davies has a new fan.


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