Ann Hinnenkamp Has A Dilemma: To E-Read Or Not To E-Read

Hello, my name is Ann and I am a paper book snob.

Sound familiar? It wasn’t that long ago when I thought reading a book on one of the new e-book readers was right up there with drinking wine out of a plastic cup. No matter how good the wine, the vessel it was in would cheapen the overall experience.

You see, reading for me doesn’t just involve my sight. It’s about the feel of the book in my hand, the smell of the paper and the wonderful crackle sound the binding makes when you open a book for the first time. Four out of my five senses are intimately involved. How could a machine possibly compete with that?

I’d stuck my nose in the air about the whole concept and kept it there.

Then I was offered a contract to e-publish and I realized if I was going to ask readers to read e-books, I might need to lower my nose a bit and give it a try.

I chose a no-bells-and-whistles e-reader. I didn’t want to surf the net or play videogames, I just wanted to read a book. And I figured there would be less software I’d have to navigate. This is important because every time I learn new software, one of the old ones I know slips out of my brain.

Even so, when I sat down in front of my computer with my new e-reader I was sure I had a couple of frustrating hours ahead of me.

At first I was right. Getting the e-reader out of the packaging was a herculean task. Why do manufacturers vacuum-seal everything in plastic that’s impervious to all household cutting tools? But that proved to be the hardest part. I fumbled through the different books and flyers until I found the easy start-up guide, hooked the e-reader to my computer, my computer to the internet and in a matter of minutes had my first book.

I looked at the five-inch screen and chose “Start Reading” (it seemed the logical choice), and off I went.

It took awhile to get the timing right for the page turns but I soon got the hang of it and then the unthinkable happened. I lost myself in the author’s story and forgot I was reading on a device. Even better, a few hours in, I discovered my favorite option. I’m at an age where I look like I’m playing the trombone every time I read a restaurant menu. During a long reading session, my arms and neck get tired from all the bobbing about. With the e-reader, I pushed the button with the picture of a magnifying glass and wonder of wonders, the print got bigger.

As time went on and I loaded book after book onto Betty (that’s what I call my e-reader now), I found my other favorite thing—space.

I have every book I’ve ever bought. I can’t let them go. It would be like parting with an old friend. Every room of my house has at least one bookcase jam-packed with books. It’s reached the point where if I bring in any more, one of my family members has to go.

Betty solved that problem for me. She’s got room for hundreds of books and can fit in my purse. We go everywhere together. When a stranger asks about her, I demonstrate her like a proud parent.

I still miss some things. The smell mostly. I think every e-reader should come with a few hundred of the old scratch-n-sniff cards. You know, scratch and smell your childhood library. I think they’d be a hit.

-Ann Hinnenkamp author of RT BOOK REVIEWS Top Pick Dyad Quest