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I Got a Nook & Promptly Ate my (digital) Words

A few months ago, I wrote a rather critical post about e-readers over on Ashoka’s News and Knowlege blog. My post wasn’t so much about the price of e-readers or the price of e-books or the insane practices of publishers trying desperately to hold onto their profit margins.

Instead I focused on the second-hand industry of books, how e-readers threaten the democracy of access to the written word.  I wrote about what will happen if e-readers really take off and there is no way to donate the books you’re finished with to someone else.

And then my (fabulous, wonderful) mother-in-law got Chris and I each a Nook for Christmas.  It was generous beyond words and not something I felt comfortable saying no to just because I’m not sure how the second-hand e-book industry will pan out.

Hypocritical? Yes, very.  Morally reprehensible?  I hope not.

And what has the outcome been?

Well, I love my Nook.  I love it enough that I spent money on a cover to protect it.  I love it enough that it has already required a pet name (nook nook, in case you were wondering…I’ll pause while you throw up in your mouth just a little…If getting a nook wasn’t morally reprehensible, I’m fully aware that having a pet name for it-is).

Why do I love it?  Because even though the carbon footprint to make it was probably substantial, I can’t help but feel like I’ll eventually make up for it with my tally of digital vs. paper book purchases.  I love its slim and functional design.  I love that it goes with my constant minimalist desire to have less stuff.  Relatedly, I love that the nook means that perhaps I’ll never again pack and carry 20 boxes of my husband’s books into another house again.  Heck, maybe I’ll even start reading more books instead of subsisting solely on a literary diet of blogs and online newspapers.

And yes, as I reread the words above, the good liberal in me cringes at my own yuppie self-interest.  It’s true, I also love my nook purely because it’s just such a good gadget and I am somewhat of a gadget-loving girl.

Once you get used to the dichotomy between the e-ink reading screen and the color touch screen at the bottom, navigating the nook becomes instinctive and ridiculously easy.  It’s really just a pleasure to use.  It’s elegant in a way, it makes me wonder why we didn’t move to e-readers sooner.

I love the long battery life, I like the size and feel and the wireless option.  I love that it makes reading even more portable.  I’m looking forward to carrying just my slim little nook around instead of 3 or 4 books on my way to Hyderabad this weekend.

And if I’ve fallen for my nook, I think Chris is already well on his way to a life-long affair with his.  It’s all fireworks and magic and Terry Pratchett downloads for him.  I was afraid he wouldn’t take kindly to the nook. Chris is sentimental about his novels and there are few books of his not bookmarked for eternity with plane ticket stubs and cigar wrappers-reminders of where he was and who he was when he read them.  Chris is estatic though, with his new gadget; and while I don’t know what we will do to replace those journey-marking souvenirs (or how it will feel to borrow a “book” from him without being showered in airport receipts and the remnants of Cuba’s finest) but I’m sure we will figure something out.

In any case, my fabu, sentimental, gadget-loving husband is coming to crawl into bed with me and read his nook for a little while I do some more work.  Until tomorrow, stay warm and well.

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