Thursday, May 17, 2012

Going E — But Just for the Articles

Kindle Fire, courtesy Amazon
It wasn't my idea.

Okay, it was my idea, but there was some peer pressure.

Well, not "peer" pressure, but a suggestion on how they could come in handy.

"They" are e-readers — specifically, Kindles. My bookish friend and fellow print-lover, Carole, received one right around Christmas, and she mentioned that she could access her favorite magazines (and recipes) without having to keep the magazines. Nothing, she noted, can replace rifling thorough a magazine rich with color and texture — but the e-mag sure is convenient.

So, I pondered. What magazines did I like to read but didn't want to cart about? The New Yorker, my guilty pleasure. They show up every week and I read as much as I can until I have to abandon the mostly-read and sadly-unread copies to the thrift store (if, of course, I haven't chopped them up to save the cartoons). I'm always surprised by what I choose to read, and delighted at what I find.

I also love Smithsonian, but recently gave away an entire year's subscription, unread. I was too sad: it was Smithsonian that provided me with information about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates in Central Park and a magical, snowy weekend on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in February 2005. Alas, I never sat in my own living room and read them. (The Gates article? Read on the elliptical machine at the gym.)

Magazines are like movies: too decadent to enjoy as part of my day. I used to go across the hall to Alicia's house and read her People. Somehow, that wasn't "wasting time." (After all, my laundry wasn't wrinkling in the basket at her house.)

But e-readers are evil. They're destroying the publishing industry — right? First, readers lose bookstores because people "stop buying books," or just stop buying books at ridiculous MSRP — $35 for a hardback, my, er, ear. My use of Amazon was not at the expense of My Borders, which I rewarded with frequent purchases because they shelved Marge Piercy and other delectables. 

Then there's the question of owning a book. With e-readers, we purchase use of the book — but the publisher can remove the book from a device. I want to own the books I buy.

But can I reconcile my e-reader with my love of paper? Will I go to the e-side for everything, leasing a book rather than holding it in my hands? We will have to see. For the time being, I'll see how magazines read on it. (Don't worry, I'll continue to subscribe to print — I may be experimenting, but I'm not totally insane.)

Share with me: how do you use your e-reader? Has it changed the way you read, and is that change for the better?

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