I love high-tech gadgets. Heck, I just got a computerized (sort of) flashlight, the marvelous Fenix LD 20. It's terrific.
But last February I returned a Kindle 2 without even trying it. And even though I spent quite a bit of time yesterday trying to talk myself into buying a Nook, I figured that I'd end up not being happy with it -- mostly for the reason I wrote about before.
I love my MacBook laptop. And my iPhone. Reading on a screen feels natural to me. But only for transient information. Email messages, web browsing, stuff that comes and goes.
I read mostly non-fiction. I keep almost all of my books, partly because I'm a habitual highlighter and used book stores shun my heavily yellow-marked pages. Every morning I read before I meditate. Most recently, a book that I'd read and re-read.
I loved looking at the artifacts of my previous readings.
Originally I'd highlighted in green, then yellow. I'd written notes on the inside back cover. I'd penned in question marks next to statements I disagreed with and round approving circles next to sentences that brought forth a right on.
I realize that the Kindle has some sort of highlighting and note-making features. But it dawned on me that this wouldn't be the same as holding a book with paper pages and marking it up the way I'm used to.
Plus, with the Kindle I wouldn't be able to go to a bookcase and fun my finger along the spines of previously read titles, looking for an old friend that I wanted to become reacquainted with.
Perhaps I'll never read books on a screen because I'm too hooked on turning paper pages, running a highlighter along printed text, sitting on my meditation cushion with a cup of coffee balanced on the edge of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism" (good book), feeling the heft of processed wood pulp on my lap.
If so, I'm not going to feel like a Luddite.
There's a place for high-tech in our lives. And there's also got to be a place for low-tech. Otherwise we run the risk of losing touch with one of the most satisfying things in life:
This is what bothers me the most about Nook, Kindle, and other eBook readers. They're too divorced from touchie-feelie reality.
Technology doesn't have to be that way.
I'm typing this blog post on a MacBook Pro laptop. An iPhone is sitting in my computer bag. I don't feel distanced from either of these gadgets because each is operated with a lot of hands-on fingering.
The MacBook has a great multi-touch trackpad. And the iPhone is controlled by pressing on the touch screen. (I don't have a protective case on my iPhone -- just a screen protector-- because I enjoy the feel of it's naked metal and plastic in my bare hand.)
I like the Nook more than the Kindle at the moment because it has an auxilliary full color touchscreen, which seems nicely iPhone'ish.
However, reading on the Nook, as on the Kindle, still is in grayscale. And pixelated. Sadly, since I'd like to have a new cool piece of technology, eBook readers are going to have to become a lot more like a real book before I'll start using them.