Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Confession Time: I Can't Seem to Change!

I cannot seem to Kindle a desire to read a book without an actual book in my hands. I sit in my Nook and I turn pages instead of punching buttons. I smell fresh paper or old paper, not cold metal. In order to read tomorrow, I just have to put my book down and pick it up again when I wake up. I don’t have to search for an outlet and plug in a charger.

However…change is coming. Change is here.

I rarely feel old. I have a young heart and a disposition that looks for the bright side of life. But as I read about the bankruptcy of Borders and as I listen to friends debate Kindle vs. Nook, I feel old.

Not long ago, I watched a BBC show set in England in the early 1900s. The master of a huge mansion explains to his butler that they will have a telephone soon. The butler tells the rest of the servants. Many of them are aghast. Why? We are fine without a telephone! What about the noise of it? It will kill our nerves.

Change was huge news in those times. Resistance to change was a natural reaction. We live in a time where change is the norm. It’s constant. The folks who make the eReaders and eBooks are the Borgs of our society. “Resistance is futile.”

I hope not. But I am a writer and my second home is the library and my third home, the book stores. What’s next? Will libraries have e-readers to check out, complete with e-books?

I don’t think books will ever be extinct. They are too ingrained in who we are as a culture. But as someone told me last week, “I think in the future books will be like plays. We watch TV and movies constantly because they are at our fingertips. Easy access. To watch a play takes effort and a conscious choice. So in the future we’ll have eBooks at our fingertips, but if we want the pure enjoyment of a book, we will have to make a conscious choice.”

Yikes. Am I 70 yet? That’s how I feel.

This past Christmas, my mother-in-law gave my son a Nook. I sit here on my couch and I glance at it, sitting on an end table, hooked up for more power. To resent this doodad is silly, but it is honestly how I feel. Maybe because I am a writer, I see this device as an encroachment on the world I’ve loved so much. To sit in the middle of tall bookshelves, filled with adventure and mystery and romance, is an integral part of what I believe childhood should be. Noah wanted a couple of books last week. He could have ordered them on the Nook. Easily and less expensive than the book store. But I told him I’d go and get him the books. I did and felt as if I’d won a tiny battle against this black and white device that sits beside me.

I don’t feel badly about ITunes or Netflix. I welcome the convenience of getting music or a movie off the web. I enjoy it. But books? Books are magical. I know that in reality, the same stories show up on the e-reader. The same experience is conveyed. Yet I resist it. I resist the change that seems to be all around me.

This is a real battle for me. I am my mother when we got her a microwave oven. She stared at it for a while and used it only after months of owning it. I mean, can you really cook something without a good ole stove? Really?

Sigh. I am a work in progress. A rebel on a beach, standing against a tidal wave of change. I’m going to get wet. Maybe I’ll order an eBook soon and try out Noah’s Nook.

Maybe not.


Jan Parrish said...

Bethany checks out library books on her Nook all the time. It's really quite fascinating.

Kamy already has a Leapfrog computer and she "checks her email" whenever I do. She also has an eReader.

I don't own an eReader yet. But I plan to (when I can afford it). Books are less expensive, faster and easier to obtain.

Not to be controversial, but I think the eReaders will actually help us writers. I'm working on my ebook now.

I think we'll see a day when books go by the wayside and the only ones who still have books are the ones who collect them. And that's OK with me.

denise said...

Don't hate me. I bought a Kindle this very day.

Robbie Iobst said...

Denise, I don't hate you. I'm....conflicted. :0)

Robbie Iobst said...


"I think we'll see a day when books go by the wayside and the only ones who still have books are the ones who collect them. And that's OK with me."

It's not OK with me. Not at all. But we can still be friends...I think. :0)

tonya said...

I am like you. I want to feel the weight of the book in my hands as I am transformed into another place. It's sacred, well at least for me it is.
Being in college, I do most of my research online and I don't mind that. But there is something about going and getting a heavy book from the shelf that lots of students have used before and finding what you need in the library. Bibliophiles will have to unite over this. :)
Convenience versus tradition. I think we both know who will win out.

Great post!

Joanna said...

Robbie - I understand. I do not have a Kindle or a Nook, nor do I really want one. I figure I have enough issues with my laptop and cell phone, why would I want to add to that? I also love the feel of the book in my hand and the sound of a page turning. Maybe it's a sentimental thing - I come from a long line of readers. My Grandma and my mom always had a book in their hands while I was growing up.

This probably makes me sound old. Pretty soon I'll be starting my sentences with "Back in my day..."

Marla said...

Enjoyed reading your clever thoughts here, Robbie! And Jan, your comments...

Robbie Iobst said...

Tonya, Jo and Marla, thank you for your words! :0)

I see the future and I will acquiesce to it. But I don't have to like it. This will take a while for me to accept. :0)

Red Bridges Home said...

Robbie, I feel your pain. My college son asked for a Kindle for his birthday - sigh. My favorite stores are book stores. My favorite pieces of furnature that I like to drool over - book cases. We met a couple who built a new house. It's three stories - half of their second story is a library in the round complete with floor to ceiling walnut cases. I asked if I could move in with them. My most prized book is a 1918 edition of Through The Looking Glass. It's yellowed and tattered, and I love it. I love the smell of it.

I'm an avid scrapbooker as well - I still reject the whole digital scrapbooking thing. I want something to hold.

I like this piece Robbie - I'm looking at the Kindles and thinking about it. But I dont' think I'll ever fully part with my real books entirely.

Melanie said...

A friend passed on your blog and I am so glad they did!

I have not made the jump yet but I am considering it. I see others a work with their cute little Nooks in color reading popular magazines and then I see my huge pile of magazines to take to the recyle and think...I need a Nook.

Robbie Iobst said...

Deana, You feel me, friend! Your description of your friends library made me drool. Have you seen that scene in Beauty and the Beast where Belle steps into the Beast's library. I love that.

Funny, I haven't even looked at digital scrapbooking. I love to scrapbook!


Robbie Iobst said...

Melanie, Welcome!! I will probably break down and get one, too. Or use my son's. But just not yet...

Cheryl Barker said...

Robbie, my hubby got me a Kindle for Christmas so I am learning how to use it. I admit I haven't figured out all the features yet -- just know how to download books and start reading. Haven't figured out how to quickly flip back to a section I'd like to reread or remind myself of like you can with a real book, but maybe a person can do it with a Kindle too. So far I still like my real books better :)