Can you lend an e-book to your sister?

You can pay for parking with your cell phone. It’s convenient, right? But there are fewer of those moments when you pull up to a parking meter and you’re about to scrabble for a loonie, when you find an hour still on the meter. It’s such a great feeling when that happens — like karma just came and kissed you. And now it happens less often.

I was thinking something similar about e-books this week. When I finish a book I’ve enjoyed, I almost always set it aside to lend to someone. My sister, or my mom, or a friend who will love this particular title. Plus, there’s the occasional pleasure of a friend or relative arriving at my house with a book to lend me. I love that!

My mom and my sister are coming to visit next weekend, and I have barely anything set aside for them. My newest books are locked inside the Kindle, and even though it’s theoretically possible to share titles with my mom’s Kindle (I know — how hip is my mom?), the books I’ve bought don’t appear share-able.

I think Mom and Sis will be stuck buying their own books. Probably paying for their own parking, too.

Reading in the new world

Startling admission from a former English major: I am not a critical reader.

If I have to comment intelligently on a piece of writing, I have to read it twice: the first time for enjoyment, and the second time for thought. Because reading is a pleasure, an escape. And who wants to pause, while in another world, and think, “my, what a nice piece of symbolism the author has incorporated here”? Not me. I’m all about the suspension of disbelief.

So, I was highly offended the first time a note appeared on my new Kindle, saying something like: “1,077 people have highlighted this sentence.” What were all those other people doing in my book, pointing at something that I was supposed to then see as profound!?! Get out of my book, you strangers!

And I thought… if I highlight a passage, this machine is going to know which sentence I found particularly moving, and it’s going to broadcast that information to a pack of voyeurs.

(You can click somewhere and turn off this sort of highlighting notification, but I didn’t do so. I left it on a while, so I could maintain my righteous indignation.)

Then, just last night, I remembered something. I took a John Green novel out of the library recently and inside the front cover was a post-it note. It read: “Hello Fellow Nerdfighter! I LOVED this book. I laughed, I cried, it changed my life. I hope you love it, too.”

How wonderful that John Green has a secret society of fans, communicating through post-it notes and united in their love of insightful novels.

Next, I started thinking about this blog. About the way I write whatever springs into my mind, but there are sometimes friends, and even strangers, who stop by to comment on my latest random thoughts.

It seems that writing and reading are growing closer. And reading (highlighted paragraphs and all) is becoming less of a solitary activity. You read, you tweet your read, you blog your review. And already, in the reading, you’ve absorbed some of the thoughts of those who read before you.

I am reading Mockingjay right now, by the way. And 1,977 people have marked this passage: “I don’t want anyone with me today. Not even him. Some walks you have to take alone.”

Or do you? Because apparently, 1,977 people are watching.

A brave new world

So yes, it’s official. I’m a member of the 21st century. Less than a month after I read my first e-book (Emma Donoghue’s Room, on Min’s iPad), I am the proud owner of a Kindle. Since this was my tenth anniversary present, I’m assuming that Min hopes I’ll stare at the Kindle and ignore him for the next ten years. (Or maybe he didn’t thoroughly consider the ramifications of his gift.)

After a week or so of use, I’d say this machine is pretty darn impressive. For the first few minutes after taking it out of the box, I tried to peel the sticker text off the screen. Except, it wouldn’t peel. So, I flicked the power button, and it turned out… that’s what the screen looks like. It doesn’t look like a screen at all. AT ALL. It looks like print.

Kindle Pros, thus far:
It’s light.
It fits in my purse.
I can get a book at the drop of a hat, or at the mention of an author on CBC.
It has a (lame, but useful) browser, so I can download old books for free.
The battery lasts forever.

Kindle Cons, thus far:
It doesn’t have a backlit option, so I can’t read it in the dark when Min’s sleeping.
I can get a book at the drop of a hat, or the mention of an author on CBC, which may double my book expenditures.
It’s not compatible with the library’s e-books.
It creates all sorts of widows and orphans and text flub-ups which, as an ex-typesetter, I find highly noticeable.

Overall, though, it’s pretty darn cool. I’m hooked. Now, if only they could make the Kindle smell like a new book.

Pop the bubbly!

Min and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary while we were away in Vernon.

Usually, we don’t buy each other anniversary gifts. We try to do something together to celebrate, instead. But since this was the big year 10, and since Min was giving a keynote presentation on our return, I bent the rules a little and bought him a tie. A nice tie. A stylish, Mad Men-esque sort of tie. A tie.




He bought me a Kindle.

I’m thinking I got the better deal in this marriage.

More on my new technology next week…