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