Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What do you read?


I don’t mean by that question do you read chick lit or mysteries, short stories or novels. I mean it more . . . existentially. Do you read “artifacts” (to use a term that was bandied around at a literary editors’ panel I attended on Saturday, and by which was meant physical books and literary journals), or the computer screen, or are you one of the very few who have adopted the eBook? As both a writer and a reader, I’ve grappled with “print” vs. “online” almost since the day “zines” (online magazines) first appeared. Writers still debate whether it is better to appear in print or online and where you come out on that question is usually a matter of age. There are by now some online venues that are as reputable as their print cousins, but still not as many as you might think. My own strategy is that I’d like my work to appear in both—first in a print journal that I can hold in my hand and then, archived, with a link I can cite on my blog and email to friends, on another magazine’s website.

But the eBook option hadn’t really occurred to me, probably because years after their introduction they are still extremely rare. In the above-mentioned panel, David Lynn, editor of the Kenyon Review, predicted that in not too many years the eBook will have truly emerged. It’s a proposition that is hard to argue with. I don’t see it merging with cell phones the way Personal Digital Assistants have, but it does seem to be a viable complement to books themselves. And, it occurs to me, for those of us who tire reading computer screens, the eBook might be the way forward for online content also. If I could download an online magazine into my eBook so that I could read it later—in bed, or the next day at the doctor’s office, or at the coffee shop—then I might be more inclined to pay attention to and remember that online magazine. Otherwise, I skim over its content, and even if it becomes a “favorite” in Explorer, a return is more than likely to be accidental than intended.

As for the eBook, do you have one? The Sony model (the Personal Reading System) can be purchased directly from Sony and costs about $350. That’s too much for me right now, but if it were a little cheaper . . .

3 comments:

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I like that idea, downloading an ezine to a booklike artifact. But the chances of my buying an ebook reader any time soon, surrounded as am I by bookstores & libraries, are small.

Clifford Garstang said...

Yeah, I hear ya. I'm not even surrounded by those, but I am surrounded by piles of books and journals I haven't yet read, so a book reader would not be a wise purchase for me. Which doesn't mean I won't be getting one . . .

Mary Akers said...

Artifacts all the way, baby. They calm me. The rustle of the pages, the smell of the sizing, the special bookmark. No substitute.