Monday, August 2, 2010

E-Reader, Schmee Reader

I don't own an E-reader. I have nothing against them. One of the thrills of my writing life was having a fan download the first chapter of STAMPED OUT as I stood in a booth selling books at a quilt show. The speed was amazing. Instant, instant gratification.

But I do have a beef with them. I'm traveling this week which means airports and planes. Lots of people reading which always makes my heart sing a little. Here's the big frustration - I can't tell what people with e-readers are reading.

How am I supposed to tell the guy across the aisle how much I loved Racing in the Rain if I can't see the book jacket? Or know that woman reading Olive Kitteridge is about halfway through? She's getting to that scene with Olive and Louise Larkin. How will she react? Will she cry?

How can I tell what kind of person I'm seated next to? The axiom is you can't tell a book by its cover. But I like to think I can tell something about the person I'm with by the books they read. The e-reader is making that tough.

In the aisle over a young boy is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. His dad is reading The History of Boys. How cool is that? And a father and his nearly grown son are sharing the same copy of Arthur C Clarke novel. The same copy! Each has their own bookmark and they're passing it back and forth. Try that with a Kindle.

There's a teenager reading Larry McMurty and an athletic mom reading Her Fearful Symmetry. Unexpected choices that tell me a lot about the reader.

Me? I was totally engrossed in A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel on the first leg of the trip. Laughing out loud, and resisting the urge to read portions to my seatmate. After making the connection, I sewed a binding on my nephew's birthday quilt. (By the way, if you're in the Southwest Terminal at Midway airport, watch out. I spilled my needle case. I think I got them all.But don't go barefoot.)

And then I read Megan Abbott's Bury Me Deep. With its noir cover, some people might think it's an unlikely choice for a quilter. But they'd be wrong. It was a great read.

What are you reading?


ckb said...

I'm reading the end of Happiness Key by Emilie Richards getting ready to jump into Fortunate Harbor for my flight home. I'm intrigued by e-readers. If I were a frequent traveler, I'd want one so I wouldn't have to care so many books. But you just can't be the feel of a book! And I love bookmarks! I would miss that.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Terri, I loved A Girl Called Zippy.

And CKB, Emilie is a dear friend of mine! I'm so glad to see one of her fans here.

I'm reading Angelology and the Victorian Encyclopedia.

As for judging covers, I find that approaching people with their e-readers makes for great conversation. After all, they just might have their ENTIRE library with them.

(And Olive K. was a pretty cool book, too.)

Becky Levine said...

Good thing they don't let kitties wander around at the airport! :)

Dru said...

You are so right about not seeing the covers of the book. Whenever I see someone reading a book, I immediately look to see if I've read this book or could I have just discovered a new-to-me author.

I love my e-reader and still read paperbacks, but what I've done lately is when I see someone reading an e-reader, I let them know I have one and then segue into what book are they reading and striking a conversation.

I'm almost finished with Death By Diamonds by Annette Blair.

Terri Thayer said...

I've asked people what they've got on their e-reader and find the people I talk are reading several things at once which is neat.

Spilling needles on the floor in the airport is a way to start conversations, too!

Susan said...

I've had an e-reader for about two months and I love it! One of the few cons about it is not being able to see what one is reading, but it can also be an advantage when you're reading a really trashy book on the e-reader and no one is aware of how low-brown you're being at the moment.

I just finished reading The River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt's journey in Brazil and can't say enough about the author made history come alive. I also just finished Laura Lippman's Another Thing to Fall and I'm listening to Olive Kittredge (finally got it after a 7 month wait on the library reserve list!)

Camille Minichino said...

Just finished Girl with the umlaut, uh, tattoo, for my book club. I could go on. Also just finished Invisible Gorilla for nonfiction group. Interesting take on what we think we see!

I usually have only about a week per month when I'm not reading for a book club, a panel, or my sci and technology class. When I get to choose it's often mainstream fiction -- this time Sue Miller's newest.

And I think you can bookmark an ereader or even make the font big enough so 2 people can read at once!

Terri Thayer said...

You've all just added to my TBR pile. Which, if I had an e-reader, wouldn't threaten to topple onto me from the bedside table.

However, I wonder if having a TBR pile on the e-reader is too easy. No unsightly mess. No guilt over others who could be reading them. No reason to clean out those books and take them to the library.