Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thoughts on E-readers, organization, and the Hugo awards

I own a Nook E-reader, sold by Barnes and Noble.

I am a life long Science Fiction reader.

Last week, I became one of the people who will vote on the Hugo awards.

How are these things connected? Fine question.... so glad you asked!

Along with the membership that entitles me to vote on the Hugo awards (Like a Grammy, only for people who write things that actually matter), came a package of material. It's an 'E' package, and contains every piece of literature and art that will be voted on for the awards. Novels, novellas, short stories, fanzines, artwork.... it's all there... and it's an immense amount of material to be waded through.

Of course, telling a SciFi fan this is 'An Amount of Material' is akin to telling a gourmet his freshly ordered 12 course dinner from a five star restaurant is a 'Big Feed'.

Naturally, I immediately downloaded the entire blasted universe of 'Material', and installed as much as I reasonable could on my Nook E-reader. I fully intend to do my duty as a Hugo voter, and read every word in every category I plan to vote in. Go ahead... just try and stop me.

This morning, reading in the littlest room, a few thoughts on the situation came to mind.

First, regarding the E-reader itself; I truly like this thing... and I truly realize it is not a book. While mine may contain the equivalent of roughly four hundred books at the moment, and be remarkably useful in so many ways.... it is not a book. It is not printed words on paper, bound, covered, and ...... beautiful.

My Nook is a treasure not for it's technology, but it's contents. It is a treasure, but not treasured. It can be replaced tomorrow... cast aside broken, obsolescent, no longer in fashion... all without a tear beyond the moderate cost it represents. The next incarnation will have all the same books loaded onto it within an hour of powering up, thus moving the true treasure to a new treasure chest.

The E-reader does so many things well, and I will not willingly choose to give mine up. On the other hand, one can't turn the pages on an E-reader, and feel the end of the story coming closer as the remaining pages get thinner, and thinner, instilling in the reader an excitement that the crescendo is approaching. Merely glancing down to see 231/267 in the page counter is not the same as feeling the pages go away under your fingers... each word slipping from 'unread' to memory as the writer leads the reader by the mind through their new world.

The E-reader is a great way to carry a library along... available at any moment. Yet, it does not stack well. One cannot move a book from the 'Unread' pile to the 'Read' pile with nearly the satisfaction of an actual tome. One cannot slide the newly read work into it's new home in the library, between two other books, now part of the body making up the readers world experience.

My Nook is near me more often than a real book now, and I read more now that I own it. On the other hand.... as I read the various works up for Hugo awards, I find myself desiring them on paper. I wish to make piles, read and unread. I wish to organize stacks by category. I wish to make notes in the margin, write unkind words here and there, and gush enthusiastically at a well turned phrase. I wish to place the pieces in order as I read them.... this one on top, the best so far... this one down a few while I consider it against the others.

I can't do those things with my Nook. Not well, not conveniently, not effectively.

So.... as I work my way through the work nominated for the Hugo awards, the most prestigious award ever for writings about our future world.... I find myself stepping back in time to a darker age, and printing the words themselves to paper so I can read them in the same way a 16th century monk may have read in his abbey library.

1 comment:

Crucis said...

I have the Cruz Andoid table. At last look, I've over 1,100 e-books on it. I've cleaned out the Baen Free Library, their current as past webscribtion library and just about all the $0.99 e-books on Amazon. Then there's Manybooks and the Gutenberg Project.

I've more books than I have time to read!