Book Riot has a great post up this week about book ‘fanatics’ which begins with ‘I don’t care if you dog-ear my pages…’ The author then enumerates all the so-called sacrilegious ways he treats his precious books, including cracking the spines, highlighting and annotating, using the frontispiece as writing paper and so on. It had me thinking about ways I do (and don’t) behave as a typical ebook reader. Without further ado…
1) I don’t care what fonts the publisher has chosen. Sorry, professional typesetters of the world! One of the things that sold me on Kobo vs Kindle was that the Kobo has more refined font controls. I can modify the font itself, but also the margins, line spacing, letter thickness and more. I know in the old days, Father Knew Best and the book looked however the publisher decided it looked. These days, I prefer less bossy books and if the author and/or publisher tries to enforce a choice on me, I have no compunctions about using Calibre to strip out the style sheets so I can do what I please.
2) I don’t think paper books are evil. Granted, I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘smell of paper’ fetishization-ist approach either. But the corollary to #1 is that I do think some books are better suited to paper, and if I am buying one of those books, I have no problems buying the physical entity. Cookbooks, fitness book and non-fiction (especially for children) are just better in paper for me. I like seeing the pictures. I prefer following a recipe when I can see the whole page at once. If the visual aspect really is part of the experience, I’ll choose paper over pixel with no compunctions.
3) I don’t view reading as a social media experience. I know the software designers want me to be. But I am just not. I am not saying the books I read are a secret, necessarily. I do have friends who read, and I do sometimes talk about books with them. But social media is a whole other story. I have no desire to broadcast my reads to everyone on Facebook, nor am I particularly interested in seeing which passages in the book I am reading were most highlighted or shared by others. These features strike me as something a software designer thinks people want to use, rather than something most people actually care about.
4) I don’t equate quantity with value. I used to; I used to snap up the omnibus books, figuring that if I could get the book I wanted to read plus ‘bonus’ content too, so much the better. But lately, I am finding it’s too much work to filter through the extras. Either I’m ready to move on and read something else by then, or else I’m finding too may errors and typos and glitches which mar my reading experience. I’d rather just pick the content I actually want to read and find a good version of just that.
So, am I a ‘bad’ ereader? I don’t think I am. I buy a lot, I read a lot and I enjoy my books. It is magical to me that I can carry around a thousand books with me on a device the size of my phone. But I do like to choose my own experience. I chafed a little when Kobo made me set up an account with them just so I could sideload books onto a device I paid good money for. It annoys me when a book won’t let me read it on the device I choose or with the font settings I prefer. I realize that in the paper days, I could never customize the way I can electronically, so perhaps my stubbornness to read my own way is somewhat of an irony. But I think that for me, the beauty of e-reading has been the way it’s let me expand my consumption by opening up new options for where and how often I can read. I don’t want to be shackled now that the gates have only just opened up.