Monday, October 4, 2010

On eBooks

Moving puts things in perspective. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm about to ship off to Afghanistan for a little while. Because of this, I decided that I could save some cash by not renting half a duplex while I'm out of the country. So even though I absolutely hate packing and relocating all my stuff, I have done just that. Fortunately the Army pays for movers to come and pack the house and ship everything to a storage facility somewhere in Syracuse, so much of the expense and manual labor were not mine.
It is a bit unnerving, though, to see nearly all one's possessions packed up and loaded on a truck. I found myself thinking, I have too much stuff. I'm quite certain that if they took half of those boxes (not those! The other half!!!) and chucked them in a trash compactor I'd never miss them. Sure, I'd lose some copies of the college newspaper with that hasty and ill-considered editorial that I wrote, some drawings I did during study hall in high school, and some items in my collection of graduate school recital programs, but those are things I pretty much never look at and am doing just fine without right now. I could save so much time and space by just eliminating the junk. (To say nothing of how I have many things I'd like to keep but could still survive without.) The point is, some of my many excessive items include books.
I enjoy reading; I have since I was old enough to read. I have a lot of books, many of which I've read once, many several times, and some not at all yet. I like the feel of a book in my hands--the weight of it, the texture of the dust cover, the smell of the pages. (Yes, they have a scent.) I like hardcovers, paperbacks, novels, graphic novels, fact, fiction, science fiction, science fact, history, historical get the idea. I'm proud to have the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy (with Alan Lee illustrations), the complete Harry Potter series, and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. I expect I'll probably have a fair amount of down time while I'm overseas, and during that time I expect to read a lot. Unfortunately, books take up a lot of space and can get pretty heavy when you have a lot. So I got an eReader.
This one's a "Kobo," an imprint from Borders. It's cheaper than several others, but has a good-size screen and is compatible with many online libraries. It can hold hundreds of volumes, and even came with 100 titles already stored on its 1 GB drive. (These are classic public domain titles like Sherlock Holmes stories, Jane Austen novels, Homer's Odyssey, etc.) It's designed to be comfortable to hold, and it is. The battery charge is supposed to last for up to two weeks. I'm still in awe that now I can hold the complete Lord of the Rings in this little tablet that weighs just a few ounces, and with just a few clicks be reading Tolstoy's War and Peace. (Not that I plan to start that novel anytime soon.) So for the sake of taking a sizable library with me to a secure military base for several months, I'm glad that technology has reached this point. I expect I'll start on Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series soon, and it's nice that I won't have to lug a bunch of paperbacks with me to do so. Once/if I finish one, I can just connect to the internet and purchase the next one. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the complete works of Shakespeare for my Kobo. Good thing I have those stored on my iPhone.