Dear Haters

Dear Hater,

I read this post yesterday about Stephen King’s latest book release, and at first the quotes contained in it made me mad. And then it broke my heart. Because some of you are really mean, but also because you may find 10 years down the road that you’ve changed your mind, and you’re really putting your foot in it. Like I did.

I used to be like you. I thought I was open-minded, too. But at the same time, I thought my way was the only way, that anyone who thought differently was a loser wrong. And then I met sj, and my eyes were opened.

It didn’t happen overnight. We’ve been pals for over three years now, and it took almost that long before I would even hear her out, and even longer for me to admit that she was right. But she is. I am here to confess. I’ve gone over to the dark side. I love my e-reader.

I should have trusted her sooner. She had, after all, brought such delights as Firefly and Ready Player One into my life and changed my heart forever. But I am nothing if not stubborn.

When we first started talking, she’d mention her e-reader and how awesome it was. I did the smile-and-nod that you do when you’re pretty convinced that people are idiots misguided, but you’re too polite to say. We had discussions about reading pretty often because she and I spend a large number of our free time with our noses in a book. Well, my nose was in a book, hers was in a stupid electronic device. Not a book.

God help me, I felt like I was somehow superior. Because I read actual, physical books. I used to be you, hater.  I was better. I loved books more than those people tied to electronic devices. I loved the smell of books, the feel of books, the blah-blah-blah.

And then somehow it happened. Talking to sj one day, I actually experienced a moment of envy. Through NetGalley, she had access to all kinds of advance reader copies of incredible books. What? Books I couldn’t have? NO! I made it a goal to acquire a device of my own. Two hours later, I came home from the used bookstore with a Kobo I had purchased with trade credit.

I wasn’t hooked immediately. I read a few things, did a review for sj’s blog on something she hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. But over time, I’ve come to depend on my little Kobo. It’s nothing fancy. I can’t play Angry Birds or surf the net on it. It’s just for reading. And here’s a secret. In some ways, it’s better than a regular book. 

When I was ill recently, I lost some of the use in my hands. Whenever I went out for a walk, I’d return home to find my arms were too weak to even hold my e-reader, much less a hefty book. But I could prop that Kobo on a pillow and use one finger to poke the page-turner. When my eyes get wonky, I can actually change the font. So I can still read. And I currently carry 200 books with me at a time. In my purse. Need to disappear into Avonlea? I’m all set. Want to get cracking on the latest book for review? It’s right there.

Lest you dismiss the e-reader as a device for the disabled, I’ll tell you why I don’t have my e-reader all the time. My 10 year old steals it so he can use a flashlight and read under the covers at night. To him, it’s technology. It’s the future, and it’s exciting.

I think the quote contained in that post that gets under my skin the most is this:

“To those complaining about the fact that King didn’t release it on e-book, quit your whining. Reading an actual book (not a screen) is FUN. As an adult now with kids of my own who love to read, ebook are strictly for school or literary emergencies (only real book lovers know what I mean) in our house. Holding a book in your hand, cracking the spine, creasing the corners, getting water wrinkles on the pages from falling asleep with it on your chest while you float around the pool… It’s all part of the charm. If you have to have it explained, you wouldn’t understand anyway.”

It bugs me because, while I was never quite that sanctimonious, I once had similar views, and I’m embarrassed. Hater, let me dissuade you of the notion that only people who read paper books exclusively love books more, that it has to be either/or.

So don’t go there. It makes you sound narrow-minded. And elitist. And more than a little silly. I know. Because I was you.

Fortunately, books are not as judgmental as the people who read them. Harry Potter doesn’t care if I am turning a page or pressing a button. He welcomes me. So does Anne of Green Gables. And Tom Sawyer. And all my other friends. They’re happy to see me no matter how I got there.

And as for e-readers just being for literary emergencies, I don’t know about you, but my whole life is one big literary emergency. Waiting in line to pick up my kids, riding in the car when my husband is driving, all those times when I am dying of boredom. I no longer have to hope my husband hasn’t cleared out all my car-books. Because I have an entire library with me.

So hater, I invite you to open your mind a little bit, to see that your way isn’t the only way. I don’t expect you to believe me right now because you’ve just made a horse’s patoot our of yourself and are pretty much wed to your opinion. For now. But maybe one day you’ll decide to dabble on the electronic side. And we’ll be here to welcome you.

This post is much longer than I intended for it to be,  so I’ll end it here. With an apology. I’m sorry for ever doubting you, sj. You were the rightest. You always are.


The Convertedest Convert in the History of Conversion

71 thoughts on “Dear Haters

  1. I used to feel the same way about CDs vs. MP3s. “I’ll NEVER not buy the physical product! NEVER!” And yet now… it depends on whether it’s available on iTunes, and whether the physical album and it’s packaging is worth it (I’m lookin’ at YOU, special-double-CD-edition of Pyromania…)

    I sort of felt this way about e-readers — partly because I do love books, but also because of the cost of buying an e-reader. I’m cheap. But my apartments and houses have always been full of books, and while I enjoy organizing them (I prefer Dewey Decimal System… shut up SHUT UP), I have to admit it’s exhausting and frankly, when I go on vacation, I am usually packing lots to read. my Kobo is a godsend. I LOVE being able to carry a mini-library around with me, so I never run out of books to read.

  2. All of this is true, although I still prefer to buy paper copies “/. E-books are pretty awesome especially if you are a college student (like myself) and don’t want to carry all your textbooks to school.

    Also, if you manage to lose your “e-book”, your subscriber usually keeps tabs on it and its available for instant download on a new device. NIFTY.

    Score one for the bad, good guys.

  3. This is an argument I have with myself a lot…to e-read or not to e-read, and I have to say, there is a lot of good persuasion here and from sj to go e-reader. The thing is, my job is staring at a screen all day, and I don’t really want to relax by staring at another screen. Also, I’m an illustrator; will the e-reader be the death of my hopeful profession? Probably just need to find new markets. I really like this post.

    WOW to your books! Is that a real chicken sandwich on one of the shelves?

  4. I love my e-reader. Love it. I only wish I had more time to spend with it.

    So Stephen King is missing out on e book sales? Maybe he is still reeling from the time he released The Plant as an e book? I know of fans that gave up on his writing after that…

  5. I choose to live in a small space so would love an e-reader but don’t have the $$. I could use the grocery money but have gotten no support to do that! I hear bookmarks are not necessary for an e-reader. It saves your place for you. Cool!

  6. LOL. I hate that quote. Books are going to become like music. You’re going to have people walking around trying to sound cool by being like, “Oh yeah, it’s better on paper” the way some hip types try to be like, “Everything is SOOOO much better on vinyl.” Don’t get me wrong; I love books and I love records. I even think some books really are better in book form–like Harry Potter is one of mine, for instance, just because I think the hardcover books I have feel like reading out a big book of magic spells or something. And I love that. But I feel like we’re allowed to embrace the new, too.

    • I so agree. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We’re not cheating on paper books because we’re using an electronic medium.

      I just started Order of the Phoenix on my e-reader. I have gotten so lost in the story that I keep trying to turn a physical page. Don’t tell sj. I’d never hear the end of it.

    • While I love the sound of vinyl, I think the format-elitism is a bit of a canard on the hispters’ part. I got into my favourite bands during the cassette era, and made many mix tapes and copied tons of music from friends that way. You get such awful sound quality that way,and yet I think your mind puts together “ideal” versions of the songs anyway. I think it can be the same way with books — once you read a story, the best parts (for you) stick in your mind, but when you reread it, new favourite parts may leap out at you, changing what the story is as you go through life. So the story is already mostly at home in your mind, not the thing you’re holding to read it. Just my two cents.

  7. I thought I was going to be a dyed-in-the-wool actual book fan forever – then hubby started complaining about my books (we moved 4 times in 3 years & he was complaining about lugging the boxes of books). I tried weeding my books down to a more manageable number, but it just wasn’t working for me. My daughter surprised me with a Sony e-reader for Christmas 2011 & I’ve been hooked on e-books ever since. I read in bed a LOT, so there’s nothing so wonderful as being able to read a big fat book on my little e-reader. My only concern- what if my e-reader breaks down & I lose all the books I currently have stored on it?

  8. I semi-recently got hurt. And a few months later, I decided to join Summer of Jest. Can I tell you how glad I am that I am not trying to lug over 1,000 pages David Foster Wallace around with me?

    I own a lot of books. A lot of books. But I have to say, all the reasons you mention? Those. To be able to slip my e-reader in to my bag is a big deal.

    The other thing, as a wannabe self-publishing writer: it’s a great deal easier, and cheaper!, to epublish. In fact, I will probably only publish in paper for the online reviewers who refuse to read anything else. (And there are a lot of them!) So a run of about 500. To give away. Otherwise, the first book is all e. It’s taken decades to give me a chance at putting a book out. So it’s giving someone like me a shot.

  9. I don’t have an e-reader? I just read books? But if someone gave me an e-reader, I’m sure I would use it. Who on earth has time to judge how someone reads? Seems like only people who don’t read would have that kinda time! LOL

  10. I was reluctant. But all the book stores nearby are closing despite my spending 90% of my money there. So I bought a Nook. And I love it. Because I can carry a zillion books. because I never lose my place. Because I can buy a book whenever I want to.

    I agree with folks who say that there are somethings that are better in paper. And a book that you want for research wouldn’t work well as an e-book. Otherwise, they are great.

    And anything that gets people to read more is great.

    • I agree! I love my e-reader, but I will probably never give up paper books completely. I giggle every time I see a pop-up book in Kindle format. How does that even work?! And I saw our library offers “Actual Size” as an e-book. Unless my reader is two feet tall, I’ll miss the whole point of that book, which has illustrations of animal body parts that are life size.

  11. Literary emergency, I love that phrase!

    I think it’s downright magical that I can carry 300 books with me at all times in my purse. I love the real feel of books, but the important part is the story, and once you’re in the story, it doesn’t matter what you’re reading it on.

  12. I have a Kindle app on my ipad, and though I admit it has its place, I don’t enjoy the reading experience on it as its bulky and heavy. However, I’d probably buy a proper ebook sometime. Interesting post. Thank you. 😊

  13. I do use a Kindle, but I’m not in favor of the idea of books becoming hyperlinked like web pages because that I will read as chaotically as I do online.

  14. This could be me. All of this. I fought SO HARD against e-reading. (I’d like to think I was never a dick, though. Maybe I was, but I’d like to *think* I wasn’t.) And then I thought, Amy. AMY. Listen. You love your cell phone. Technology is your friend. You are missing out on all the galleys. You need to get a Kindle. And damn, but if I don’t love my Kindle. I still paper-read – a lot, because I have one of the best library systems I’ve ever had where I live, and currently have twenty-two – YES, TWENTY-TWO – books checked out – but I also e-read. I go back and forth. And honestly, I’m digging the e-reading. A lot. A WHOLE lot.

    I’m working on my own post on this, because this is ridiculous. RI. DIC. U. LOUS.

    Also, sj was my e-reader convert champion, too. She’s pretty magical. It saddens me that there was a time before sj.

      • When I got an e-reader I purposely got a Sony Reader because it allows you to borrow books e-books from the library. You just sign up with your local library, download the book you want & after the allotted time it just disappears from your reader if you don’t renew it. Saves all those trips to the library.

  15. I’ve read e-books on our iPad out of the desperation that comes from of having nothing new to read. I don’t like it. To me it’s just cold and impersonal. I have told my husband to never buy me an e-reader. However, I have no problem with other people using one. It doesn’t matter how you read, the important thing is that you are reading. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  16. I had to put my kindle to sleep for a little while because i was spending too much money!! So now I am rereading, (I read every night) can I come and live in your library. (I will bring your piglet!) . i will be powering it up again in a few weeks when i go to canada, I hope it forgives me! c

  17. nice post.
    people often find it difficult to move on,
    Both has their advantages and disadvantages … the sensation of holding a physical book is a totally different experience … but holding 100s of books all at once is also a different experience to be cherished…
    I guess we cannot turn our back on technology.

  18. I love my Kindle. AND I love real books. I think people need to get over themselves and stop freaking out. Some people have e-readers and some people don’t. End of. Why do these people need to have to concern themselves with my method of reading?

  19. Preach it, sister!! As a parent AND a teacher, I’m happy if the kiddos in my life are reading hieroglyphics off of a cave wall. Screen or page, open-minded or closed-elitist-minded, the common bond is READING. Haters gon’ hate, though.

    • Haters always gonna hate. But sometimes they find their sj and learn better! That’s why I’m not mad anymore. I keep telling myself “Those folks just haven’t found their sj yet. There’s still hope.”

  20. Pingback: Review: Joyland by Stephen King | Insatiable Booksluts

  21. I travel a lot, and my kindle is my best friend because I can now take more of the important stuff in my luggage allowance. However, lately I have also always packed one of the dozen or so paperbacks that have been sitting on my bedside table forever because the bastards won’t let me use my e-reader during take-off and landing! Oh well, these paperbacks want to get read as well I guess 🙂

  22. I like both. Some books I just have to have, others are fine for my Kobo. The best thing about the Kobo is it is lightweight so it is easy for me to read without my neck and arms freaking out.

  23. I love books, don’t care if they are physical or ebooks although my holiday luggage has gotten a lot lighter since the creation of the ereader.
    The format that people read is not important what is important is that they are reading.

  24. Good for you.. I love books. LOVE them. But the instant I got to Saudi I sent home for a kindle (no censorship for me, buddy). That was my original reason until I realized I have more books in my purse right now, than I owned before at home. And I don’t have to pay for shipping. (But don’t touch my hard and paper books, at home, or I’ll cut you. hahaha)

  25. Well said!! I’ve learned never to say ‘never,’ for just these reasons. I, too, love books — the smell, the feel, everything about them — but the convenience of having all those books at your fingertips via e-books is way better!

  26. inspiring to hear that change is easier than we are sometimes made think. i read the opening lines, sure it was a character i was going to meet, not an e reader. as a person who has lots of eread stuff, it’s great to get real knowledge of it’s certain success. it reminds me of the snowden affair, the young man who is exposing the truth, and how so many people are rightly so, going to gain a changed position as regards the control others have over them.

  27. Pingback: They kept them away. Never let them come near. And that’s how they treated them year after year. | Lucy’s Football

  28. I love this. This was so me – especially the love the way books feel/smell! i love paper! But my husband got me an e-reader for my birthday and well, i’m hooked. great for reading in bed (pages don’t flop over), carrying on a plane ( I dont’ have to trade precious books or leave them behind) and so easy to take wherever, or get a new book in an instant. I do have real books for my baby, but once she learns to enjoy reading, I don’t see how reading on an e-reader will be worse for her than reading a paper book.

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