Recently, I got a e-reader. After spending months and months on the e-reader fence, alternating between embracing technology and embracing the delicious sensory experience of reading an honest-to-god paper book, I took the plunge. And now I have a problem on my hands ““ I’m addicted to e-books.
I read somewhere (click here for an equally good NYTimes article on the subject) that the environmental impact of e-readers is equal to that of reading paper books when you’ve read about 100 books. If you read more than that, the e-reader is environmentally sound. This isn’t a big selling point of the e-readers and with good reason (note to self ““ don’t get into a discussion of disposal of electronics), but given how easy it is to find cheap (or free!!) e-books, I’m doing all I can to hit that magic 100.
I got my start in the e-book game through my local library. So insidious! Spreading access to literature far and wide. I should write them an angry letter. Using a system called Overdrive, my library (yes, mine, my precious) provides e-book rentals. Using nothing but my library card number, I can download up to four books at a time for up to three weeks. And I can do this at any time of day or night! This alone has increased the amount I read ““ ever get bored at 10:30 PM and not want to sleep? Just hop onto the library website and wham, bam, thank you RAM, there’s a fresh new e-book!
But the library has its limits, due to, you know, funding issues mostly. Overdrive is not free for the libraries. And if someone lives in an area without e-books at their library? Well, that’s a pickle. Fortunately, there are other websites with free e-books, just waiting to be downloaded and enjoyed, at any time of day or night. Sites like Project Gutenberg have tons of titles, from 1923 or earlier (thanks, copyright laws!), just ripe for the picking. Now I can read all those classics I never had a chance to read before. Heck, there is a limited (but growing over time!) selection of Agatha Christie novels for my enjoyment.
But if waiting for copyrights to expire isn’t your bag, baby, if you’re a more proactive reader, stores, from the big boys like Amazon to local bookstores, will run some pretty sweet e-book deals. Sometimes you can get the books for free, sometimes they come at a steep discount, costing mere pennies. I can spend hours just looking at all the books the Internet has to offer.
And that’s my problem, in a nutshell ““ there are so many wonderful books to read and now, I can read them at any time whatsoever, instantly, in the comfort of my own home/train/poolside chair, for free (or cheap). Not all e-books are cheap or free, and there are many complicated issues facing the publishing industry, bookstores, and the future of the published word. But for the time being, I can’t tear myself from my e-reader.
Maybe after I finish this book”¦