The true peril of e-readers, I’ve found, is a cultural one. Years of reading fanfiction has trained me to expect and accept less of anything that I am reading on a screen compared to anything that I am reading in a print medium (though I’ve enjoyed and written fanfics all the same). Teachers’ demands that at least some of our sources be from “more reliable” print sources haunt me.
Knowledge of the readiness with which an e-book can be published do not help me. There are more hurdles to publishing an e-book than publishing on most fanfiction sites—but not many more. This being said, there are some good books that are self-published, and I am in fact toying with the notion of setting my own protagonists on that path and hoping that they are found by a wandering agent who will forgive the length of their tale.
I found that I felt less of a sense of accomplishment reading on an e-reader than reading a printed book. When reading a printed book, you can gauge your progress by the movement of the bookmark. You can see how much farther you have to read to reach the end. There is no equivalent sensation of nearing the end or glow of having read much when I am merely looking at the x of y page count on the bottom of a screen.
I do very much like the instant acquisition of books that an e-reader makes possible, and I appreciate being able to read a free preview anywhere without a set time on how long I have to peruse that preview and without fear of cracking the spine beyond the point that another might purchase the book. I also appreciate the free, instantaneous reviews.
I liked having the ability to change the font size. I chose a large font and a gray background with black text that made for easy reading in bright or dim lighting. I didn’t have the opportunity to read in the sunshine, but had no problems with glare nor did the screen hurt my eyes in a same way that a computer screen can when you’ve been looking at it too long.
There were not as many good books—or not that I was intrigued by—as I hoped there would be available free on the Nook. I did manage to find a few (keep your eyes open; I may well try to write reviews for these). That I found too there was no way to do a real safe search. By searching “free kids book” I managed to weed out most of the books that had covers that made me uncomfortable, but I’m sure I missed some perfectly comfortable adult novels available for free by so narrowing my search. I would like to see a rating system established, such as exists on fanfiction.net—also parental controls. I think it is possible to set such things, but I don’t know how yet.
The free apps were safer to browse. They were many and varied.
I see the advantages of e-readers, especially for traditionally published books and for writers. I’m not won yet. As my friend has said, there is no replacement for a bookshelf or a book in the hand for starting conversation and learning about a person.
This post was written about a Nook HD produced by Barnes & Noble.