The other evening, I cracked open a nearly 600-page book by Scott Sigler. (Summary: it was pretty bad, cannot recommend it, but that has nothing to do with this post.) And as I began to read, I soon realized that while the traditional print novel has not changed much in the last few decades, I as a reader had.
For one thing, there was no built-in light source in the book. For another, I could not tap words to define them or adjust the font size presentation to my precise mood. In fact, the entire book for all its narrative value had about as much interactive GUI appeal as, forgive me, a large pile of dead wood.
Worse was the fact that I could not read the thing after switching off the bedroom lighs. It suddenly hit me that, although I brought books along with me to various appointments like the dentist, the DMV, and so forth, it had been quite a while since I curled up to sleep with an actual print unit.
The real emotions hit me a few minutes later with “Are you going to turn off the lights yet? I have to get to sleep.”
A simple request, and yet this antiquated technological unit provided no lights-off compatibility for reading (let alone dimmed presentation, for exactly the right balance of light-source vs annoyed spouse.)
And the most heinous offense? When the book grew dreary (which it did with tedious rapidity), it offered no other reading selections, whether through my synced library, through drop box, or through an onboard store. The only book there was to read was the single stupendously heavy one already sitting in my hands.
It was then I realized: I have been assimilated. I am become Borg. I have betrayed the trust of my fellow ex-librarians. (Although shelf-reading, book dusting, and card sorting are skills I hope never to re-acquire. Ever.)
The next day, I read a rather fun $0.99 ebook on my iPad’s Kindle app. It was good enough that I decided to continue to the next one. It was in my library within five minutes and another $0.99 — no six weeks wait on the hold list or a bike ride out to pick it up.
How did things change so drastically for me over the last couple of years without ever noticing it was happening?
I’ve lost the dead-tree itch. I am e-woman.