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’.

Lost and Found or Where Do I Put the Bookplate on this Kindle?

No Telling

I’ve spent a few weeks trying to justify buying a Kindle. So far there are only two entries in the plus column: storage and techno-fascination. Neither are strong arguments for dropping $300 (or thereabouts) on a new gadget.

The minus column is long and includes many tactile reasons I love books in the first place – the feel of the pages, writing all over the margins, the ability to sling a bad book at a wall and still have an intact, readable book to give away. Now I have the best reason not to own a Kindle: bookplates.

No, I’m not one of those who meticulously labels ownership in each new purchase. I appreciate those who do, though, and love finding an old book with a gorgeous bookplate glued inside the front cover. Oh, the history! Try recreating that, sleek and pricey Kindle.

I’ve found a bevy of gorgeous bookplates, obsessive collectors, and Etsy recreations. Waste a little time sifting through these sites and luxuriating in the art of the bookplate.

For the serious collector there’s always The American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers. Here, you can actually commission a personal bookplate and the art is stunning. I’m sure the price is, too. It’s all about the math, really. How many books and commissioned bookplates can you buy for $300 (or thereabouts)?

Go crazy at Flickr. The Exlibris pool is an ooo-la-la collection of vintage bookplates, and Heraldic is another. My favorite, though, is the Pratt Libraries Ex Libris Collection. These are To. Die. For.

So it looks like my spare change will go elsewhere now. Sorry, Amazon. Until the Kindle is made of magic paper I’ll stick with the real pages. It looks like I’ve got some shopping ahead of me.