Kindles and Nooks and iPads. Oh my.

No Telling

Before I start getting all middle-aged-scrappy, let me fess up about my level of techno-intelligence. Like many Generation Jonesers (1955 to 1965), I know enough to be moderately tech-cool, but not enough to keep those damn Gen Y kids from making fun of me.

Well, they won’t be laughing at me here, because I’m about to launch into a full-blown I Told You So about e-readers. Everyone knows Gen Y isn’t reading anything that doesn’t flash through on their cell phones. That’s a shame, too, because they could save a fortune on textbooks.

E-readers were never meant for them anyway. Kindle, Nook, and the Sony E-Reader were meant for geezers like us who still read books and who can’t see well enough to read Eat, Pray, Love on a tiny iPhone screen without two pairs of reading glasses.

Then the iPad happened and sent all those overpriced e-readers scrambling. Prices are dropping like mad. Rumor has it they’ll be giving them away with book-bundle purchases soon. How many times did you look at your Kindle and say, Hey. I wish I could get online with this thing -?

Not me. I’ve got a laptop and a Blackberry-like phone and about two thousand real books. I’ll only consider an e-reader if, 1) the price drops down below fifty bucks, or 2) someone gives me one as a gift. After Christmas #1 might make it easier for #2 to happen. I can wait.

And the iPad? Well, it doesn’t have any actual keys, so probably not. I might be willing to play fast and loose with my tactile reading experience, but not with the punch and click of writing. The price ($499-$899) is too dear for just trolling the internet. I’d rather use a laptop or one of my old manual typewriters anyway. Don’t judge.

The problem is that technology is changing so quickly it’s tripping all over itself. No one wants to believe the $300 e-reader they bought last Christmas will be obsolete before the next one. Gamers are used to this sort of nonsense, but book buyers aren’t.

Which reminds me of my last trip to Barnes & Noble in west Little Rock. The joint was filled to the gills with folks strolling through the shelves, drinking coffee, flipping through magazines, and generally having a fine literary afternoon. Inside the front door was a Nook kiosk complete with a smiling and knowledgeable B&N employee.

Everyone walked right past him. Just sayin’.

21 thoughts on “Kindles and Nooks and iPads. Oh my.

  1. give me a book any day [alright so i'm a writer and i'm biased]
    there's no way i'm going to take a tablet [plastic, stone, sleeping or otherwise] to bed with my cup of tea
    suspect they were actually invented by optometrists who stand to make a fortune from selling spectacles to those who kill their vision [literally and possibly also metaphorically]
    by remaining focussed to a screen for hours

  2. Oh, but I DO love my Nook! I got one for Epic Son for those 13 hour baseball bus rides (he's at UT Brownsville), and he and Epic Husband insisted that I must have one, also. I love being able to make every book “large print.” However, I adore books, and I'll always collect my favorite hardbacks.

  3. Silly Monda, techy people buy their Kindles ONLINE! Funny, I had a talk with a woman just yesterday about her Kindle… when she likes a book she read on the Kindle, she buys the paper version to just to sit it on her shelf. But me, I'm old-school paper all the way!

  4. Monda, I may be slightly pessimistic here, but what's going to happen to everyone's e-reader libraries when the inevitable decline and fall of the western empire occurs? Give me real live books any day.

  5. I could see myself owning one, but just as an extension of my already-out-of-control literary addiction…not a replacement. I have also turned to audio, which I'm fully addicted to now, but it is only used as a way to absorb a book when my hands are full. Paper books will never stop being used, simply because the e-book thingies rely on computers which are evil and get sick and glitchy 🙂

  6. As a fellow Generation Joneser, I truly appreciate the tech lesson as well as the tragic humor behind it. I'm proud of you for rising above your demographic and conquering the e-book world for the rest of us!

  7. Indi@, those I know who have one say you can't read the damn thing in low light. Soon we'll all need fancy specs like the gal in the picture. (Y'all click on that picture. It's priceless.)

    Epic, after looking at the features and such, the Nook looks to be a better deal. Once they're dirt-cheap or free, I may find out.

    Fist in the air for old school paper, Sarah! And for old school bookstores, rare though they've become.

    K. Erickson – you know it. After the Apocalyptic Great Spill (when the whole world looks like Wall-E), I'm guessing books will make a comeback.

    Melanie, I've never tried an audio book – too addicted to the tactile, I guess. You're right. Anything remotely dependent upon computers will eventually flip out.

    Oh Zen Mama, we Jonesers are the bomb. What other generation knows how to operate turntables, reel-to-reel, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and iPods? We're walking historical archives.

  8. I love me the old-fashioned book. I love the SMELL of books! I love the library, looking at all the new books, and taking a load of them home. When I worked at the library I thought, “What? They are PAYING me for this?” It was like a drug dealer working around drugs all day long.

    If I ever were to break down and buy a Kindle or such, I would STILL ALWAYS have the hardcover and/or paperback around. I JUST LOVE BOOKS!

  9. I do lust after an ipad having had a little play at the apple shop. I just can't bear the almost inbuilt obsolescence of the things. They'll bring out some whizzy addition in six months time and then I'll be hooked! I'm still in love with my local library especially after I discovered they'll loan multiple copies to book clubs.

  10. I love my Kindle, mainly because it holds so many books and is small enough to take anywhere. Also because I can go outside in full daylight and still see and read it. But, I still love regular books, too. In fact, I just spent $3,000 on 3 huge bookcases to house all the volumes I own. I was hoping I'd still have lots of room for more, but not so much.

  11. I have read books online but it is just not the same and I do not feel the same satisfaction. Although I am all for technology and take advantage of it when I can, I prefer a book in my hand. I am a bookaholic and love the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of books. I have them in every room of my house and cannot imagine a home without them.

  12. When we are children collecting the sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations that make up how we understand and trust our world, books are so intertwined with mama, food, happiness, sleep, that we can't separate them completely. Even now, we all talk about the smell and comfort of books and libraries. I'm right there with you. Books are a complete sensory experience imprinted early.

    Until we can put Kindles in the baby's hands, we'll never lose printed books. I hope.

  13. So much of what I do has evolved to reading only online (legal research). It's easier to do the research but I hate having to read online. Maybe because of that, I am not at all inclined to go Kindle. By the way, I have started audio books because my commute is an hour, and they are great! And if you miss a word or phrase, the rewind button is there. I never thought I'd like them. Funny thing is, after listening to an audio book I find myself reaching for the rewind button while listening to NPR.

  14. I noticed the same thing at B&N last night! There was NO one wanting information from the Nook person but I was the 15th person in line to purchase real honest to God heft in hand volumes!!
    Nothing 'on line' will ever replace the real thing for me!

  15. Hey don't worry about it so much, I am 21 and would choose a book over an e-reader ANY day. Besides, I read somewhere (a newspaper) that you would have to read at least 50 books on an e-reader to actually get to the point where you are doing something “green.” This is because it takes far more energy, fossil fuels, and water to make those electronic pieces than a simple paper book.

  16. I am quite happily guilty of walking past the Nook salesman at Barnes & Noble. Not because of techo-phobia, but because I just don't see the point. If the thing came loaded with free books, then perhaps I might take a look-see. But if I'm going to pay $15 or so for a book, I'd better be able to smell the pages.

    By the way, my “Tetanus Tomato” blog has relocated to

  17. Erin, I've never even tried audio books. Living six blocks from work doesn't give me enough commute time. I listen to NPR at stop lights, so there's not much of that either. Next long car trip, I'm trying the audio books.

    Donna, why would a book store want to sell something that puts itself out of business? Seems counterproductive on some level.

    Christie, my Gen Y book reader! And newspapers, too! Kudos to you for going against type. I'm highly interested in this Green Book research and plan to find out more – thanks!

    You're a woman after my own heart, MJ. I'll bet that by Christmas 2011, those badboys come fully loaded – maybe “buy X-number of books and the Nook is free” kind of thing. Fingers crossed.

  18. While getting ready to pull away from the concourse the flight attendant made the obligatory announcement to turn off all electronics. By this point I was deep in my book while the old guy beside me was reading his new Ipad. He either did not realize the Ipad counted as an electronic device or did not care but either way the stewardess needed to do her job also so while she was passing by she reminded him to turn it off. Being the old fart that he was I noticed his displeasure with this as I chuckled to myself. Score one for those of us who still like to read old school books and news papers.

  19. i'm a late poster… but so timely to run across this one today. i was again wondering today if i should nook/kindle. most of my books a library sourced and i was thinking how great it would be to just connect and download from the e-library whenever a book came to mind. but as much as i love electricity (plumbing, etc.) i don't want another reason to stare at an illuminated screen. ah… this post/these comments were a wonderful reminder.

  20. Still reading non-electronic books here, Phoebat. I love odd bookmarks too much to give them up for iPod/Nook/Kindle. Today it's an old shopping list with Perfect Grandson scribbles (snakes, he tells me) marking my place in The River Wife.

    Have you broken down and bought an iNoodle or whatever yet?

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