Sunday, April 19, 2009


Books are a huge part of my life. I remember when I was in school, waking up at least an hour before I had to in the morning, so I could sit in bed and read before I had to get ready for school. There was a library within walking distance of the house where I grew up, and we could check out ten books at a time. I would walk to the library several times a week in the summer and pick out my books, and walk home carrying as many as I could.

I remember the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books that our teacher would read to us on rainy days, and I remember Harriet the Spy. I remember sitting out in our garage one summer afternoon watching over my family's garage sale, and reading Raymond Chandler. I remember walking up to the drugstore and agonizing over the paperback rack, trying to figure out which Agatha Christie novel to spend my allowance on next.

My father ordered the Happy Hollister series of books for us -- I wonder what happened to those? I read all of those, and I read all of the Nancy Drew books, and I read the aforementioned Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, all of those undoubtedly forming the love I have now for mystery novels.

I don't read nearly as much now as I used to, the time I used to spend reading I now spend on the computer. But I try to read as much as I can, and I almost always have a book of some kind with me in case I get stuck somewhere. Give me a good book and something to knit and I can stave off boredom no matter what.

When I got my first Palm Pilot, one of the first applications I installed was eReader. I was thrilled to find that I could get ebooks and read them on the device; I became a frequent visitor to Fictionwise, buying mostly short stories and magazines--science fiction mostly--because the short format seemed more suited to reading on the small screen.

When the Amazon Kindle came out, I coveted it, but there was no way I could pay nearly $400 for it. Even when the price came down to around $350, it was still way out of my price range when it wasn't something that was strictly necessary. I could read ebooks on the Palm, after all.

Then the iPhone came out and I wanted one of those, too, but I didn't really need one . . . it wasn't until the second generation ones came out, and my job changed at work, that I really did need one. And there was eReader for the iPhone, and all of the books that I had purchased at Fictionwise and could be transferred over, so now I could carry a library of a few hundred books with me on my phone. At that point I was glad that I hadn't bought a Kindle, since it would really just be another thing to carry around.

I know the screen is larger, and I'm sure the reading experience is better, but I figure it's probably not $350 better, and like I said, I don't really need something else to carry around.

And now, there's a Kindle application for the iPhone! The reading experience is pretty much the same as eReader, same size screen, after all, but the thing I really like about the Kindle app is the samples that you can get for free. I'll hear of a book that I might like to read, go find it on Amazon, and, assuming that it's available for Kindle (most recent books are), ask them to send me a free sample chapter, and I can instantly read it and see if I want to buy the book. That's huge for me -- one of the reasons I'll get books from the library rather than buy them is that I never know for sure (unless it's one of my favorite, known authors) whether it's something that I'll want to read or not.

If I get a book from the library, I can always read a chapter or two and, if I decide I don't like it, return it, with no hard feelings and no buyer's remorse. If I've bought a book, I feel compelled to finish it even if I don't care for it all that much. A sample chapter pretty much takes care of that problem.

I don't know for sure how many books I have on my iPhone right now, at least a hundred, probably more. Fictionwise runs a lot of sales, and quite often gives a 100% rebate on new titles, which is an excellent deal. They don't give you the money back, but credit it to your account, so you can buy more books for basically free. Last week I got a book from the library, "The Fallen," by Thomas Sniegoski. About halfway through the book, a paperback, there was a section of pages missing. I thought, well, I could try to request another copy from a different library, or I could see if I could find it in a bookstore, but oh heck, I just went to Fictionwise and bought it, downloaded it to my iPhone, and finished it that way.

In general, it takes me longer to read a book on eReader than it does a printed book, but I don't think that's all bad. I pay closer attention. I can't really skim. And I kind of like that. I read fewer books, but maybe I read them, and remember them, better.

I spent most of the morning today updating my Goodreads and LibraryThing lists, and then I worked on my I worked on my Amazon "A Store" for awhile. I'm trying to put up most of my favorite series books; I'm finding they're mostly paranormal mysteries, I guess that's where my interest lies lately. I read purely for enjoyment, and these books are, at least for me, a lot of fun.

I have a project in mind for knitters, and I would love it if any knitters out there would answer a short survey. Thank you!

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