I’ll admit, I was resistant to e-readers at first due to sheer useless stubbornness, a condition I’ve suffered from all my life. On the other side of things, I love my Kindle. I mean, it’s just freaking awesome. I don’t scare myself, fantasizing someone might steal my wallet, but rather that they might take my Kindle, and I won’t have anything to read, and all my notes will be gone! Actually, I don’t know if they’d be gone. Amazon might miraculously save them somehow.
To pose the e-reader and book question as an either/or scenario is silly. No one confiscated my books upon the purchase of my Kindle. I still buy books—hardcovers with glossy pages and rich illustrations, paperbacks of varying forms of decay from all manners of lineage.
Unless there’s a compelling reason to purchase a physical book (it has a lot of pictures, it’s a lot cheaper) I prefer an e-book. The simple matter is, they don’t take up any space, and I can highlight passages in them, and look up words. Yes, I’m a nerd.
I suspect I purchased A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files before there was an e-book available. The Kindle edition is $7.99 and a used copy of the book about $5.30. Add $4 for shipping, and the e-book is cheaper. I remember reading a fascinating thread/article about gay horror and the book came up (hell, the author may have been one of the people in the mix). It sounded really good, so I bought it, and took my sweet time about getting around to reading it.
This is a long way of saying, I ended up with a physical copy of A Book of Tongues. After reading two books on my Kindle, I had a moment of, “Oh yes, right, a book. This thing made out of paper and ink that doesn’t hold itself open.” Physically, it’s a pleasing volume. Not a 600 page wrist-breaker, amenable to being left face-open to mark your place (If you don’t abuse your books, how do you know which ones are your favorites?), and a decent size.
I chewed through that in about a day. Whee!
I needed the next book in the series, and I needed it now, and although I read it, and the one after, fucked if I can tell you the titles. Something about a rope. I never looked at the covers, all the times I picked up my Kindle to read them.
See, while e-reader vs. book is a silly question, the mediums aren’t equivalent.
I know what the cover of the first book, A Book of Tongues looks like (some old dude in a hat with a gun), and not just because I’m staring at it. I went through an intense period of asking myself, “Did I leave it by the bed? Do I have time to read?” Followed by, “Just another ten minutes.”
When I started in on the second book, things skipped a beat for me. I picked up A Book of Tongues before I remembered that no, I wasn’t reading a book any more. At first, I wanted the story to be in a book. It didn’t help that Gemma Files kept herself amused, playing with typography, which was often a little wonky in the e-books.
Switching mediums during a series really reminded me that these things were not one and the same. E-books offer an immediacy that a paperback can’t compete with. You can’t sit on the couch and summon a book to your hand. At the same time too, despite the inconvenience of having to hold the pages open and turn (anyone who likes to read curled up in a chair with snacks/drinks/what-have-you knows what I mean), physical books offer pleasures of their own.
The typography of the title on A Book of Tongues does offer a clue about how the author feels about Italics and even Bolded Italics. When Reverend Rook preaches from the Good Book, the lettering is properly Gothic. If I were to reread the series (okay, when, because I read it too fast to properly appreciate it the first time) I’d go for straight paperbacks, because the formatting hiccups in the Kindle did spoil it for me, in that they were nearly constant.
I didn’t mind the book either, with its library stickers that I eagerly picked off. It had a nice heft, and its pages are larger than the screen of my Kindle. Hidden inside are a few really hot sex scenes. The Kindle takes all the “treasure hunt” aspect out of those moments, because if you can remember a few phrases, you can just search for it. And I can think of some right now. Made me think of Might Like You Better by Amanda Blank.
The next time I go through, giving it a closer read, I’ll probably dog-ear pages on the bottom as well, marking passages, jotting notes in the margins, and looking up weird words on my Kindle. Again, I’m a nerd.
I should note though, that when it comes to a 600 page TOR paperback or an ebook, I’ll take the ebook any day. Those bastards make my wrists hurt. Much like a new pair of leather boots, they have to be broken in.