The “Real” Book Experiment

It’s been more than a year since I’ve read (or bought) a physical book for pleasure.

I’m surrounded by them in my office, but the books I actually read are on gray tablets with touch screens and internet access.

This last weekend I decided to break the fast.

I thought I’d start small, with a good old-fashioned mystery, in this case Ellis Peters’ A Morbid Taste For Bones. My choice in part was based on watching some of the Cadfael Masterpiece Mystery specials on Netflix and observing that none of her books were available for the Kindle or Nook.

Ironically after I got home and rechecked Amazon on a whim they had put out the first five or so of the Cadfael series for $4.99 apiece in the couple of weeks since I’d last checked. The last book in this series was published nearly 20 years ago, so I wasn’t really expecting Kindle to change its ways any time soon but there you are.

Prior to this experiment I might have just dropped the $4.99 to read the book on the Kindle, but I was able to buy the first two books for less than $4.00 as thin paperbacks, adding them to the five or six later volumes I’d received from my dad. Mysteries are one of the genres doing best as eBooks, as is other genre fiction like sci-fi and romance, so I thought I’d see which experience was “better” (more cozy, comfortable, satisfying).

From time to time in the next few weeks I thought I’d reflect on the difference between the Ellis Peters mystery I am reading in paperback, and the Elizabeth Peters book I’m reading on the Kindle. I’m really loving the “convenience” of reading on an eReader. But a paperback just a little bit thinner should not be all that more inconvenient, right?

One thing I can tell off the bat is that reading a real book requires two hands. Maybe not for holding the book up and reading what’s on two pages, but page flips with a single hand are nigh-on impossible, whereas with a Nook its ridiculously easy. But I’m not flipping those pages nearly as often, with smaller type and two pages facing me instead of a single screen. And the book is quicker to “boot”.

This used to be the only way I read, and already it’s feeling a little foreign to me. That if nothing else says something about the pace of technology.

The real test will be in my favorite reading spot, or in bed.

Have you ever taken a step back in technology just to remember what it was like? Watched a VHS instead of a DVD? Played a record instead of a CD or MP3? Read a physical newspaper? Leave your comments, and future “real book” suggestions below.



Filed under Books + Publishing

3 responses to “The “Real” Book Experiment

  1. Chuck

    What about audio books? For people who drive long distance this is an easy way to access books. I have found that some books, when “performed” are more fun than holding the printed page. How about a blog post on audio books someday??

    • I go through audio book phases from time to time, but usually not with new books. I use audio books as a way to refresh my memory of books I’ve read and to pass the time at work. Notable exceptions were “The Hunger Games” and “Ender’s Game”, but I admit I probably want to re-read both of them on eReader just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. A good performance is worth listening to, but even unprofessional readers like the LibreVox program can make classics come alive (I went through a phase of listening to A. Conan Doyle books from the internet archive). Maybe a post at some point. Thanks Chuck 🙂

  2. Pingback: Fourth Con Travel Log (Day 1 – Friday) | [BTW] : Ben Trube, Writer

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