Bookworms & E-Readers


Dear Tracey,

A while back you wrote about getting your mother an iPad – I think you said she was in her eighties? Well, I’m in my seventies and for my birthday, my daughter wants to buy me a Kindle, one of those electronic things that works in place of real books. My first challenge is that it seems too expensive. But I also wonder just how much I’ll like it. Not only does the technology scare me but I don’t know if I want to give up the feel of a real book. I’ve spent a lifetime curled up on couches and overstuffed chairs, getting lost in good books. Such a gadget seems like it would take so much of what I love about books away from me. Your opinion, please.

Signed, Book Worm

Dear Reader,

I have also spent a lifetime lost in, as you say, “real books.” Beginning early in childhood to, well, this morning over coffee, I have had a lifelong love affair with books.

There is something I’ve always liked about the feel of the paper as I anxiously turn the page to see what happens next. Or that dreaded time at night when my need for sleep forces me to mark my place and carefully put the book on my night stand, ready for the next escape.

I have rows and rows of books on shelves in practically every room in my house. Yes, I love books!

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered the joy of eReaders, such as the Kindle, which I have on my iPad. Will I turn myself over to technology completely? No. But I have been utterly wowed by what this “gadget” offers.

I have to admit that eReaders actually do some things far better than traditional books. They allow you to adjust both the size of the type as well as the brightness of the “page.” (This feature is great for older eyes. No more hunting for reading glasses or turning on every light in the room to see the words.) The technology itself is light and easy to pack around, whether that’s across town or on a longer trip. (It’s worth noting that eReaders simplify travel enormously. Now I simply “download” travel guides and life is much more simple. lt’s lighter too.) And there are no more tight spine’s where I have to forcibly hold open a book to see each and every word.

Or how about having the public library at your fingertips? There are also countless free books available to download.

Perhaps my most favorite feature of my eReader is the ability to instantly look up the definition of a word through the built-in dictionary. All I have to do is touch the word in question and wham, its meaning appears at the bottom of the screen. (Honestly, it’s a little like magic and I just love it!)

I’m also the kind of reader who likes to take notes, highlight passages, and quotes. With the mere touch of my finger, that’s all possible. And as for my quirky little thrill of turning pages? Somehow the geniuses who design these contraptions even managed to master that simple action. On my eReader, I turn a page with similar, and equally gratifying, glee.

I strongly encourage you to not be intimidated by this technology. You’d be wise to go to a store and have one demonstrated for you. Initially, things may seem to whiz right by you but ultimately, you can master it.

When you receive yours (!) have your daughter set it up for you with a couple of books already downloaded. Make sure she is available for those first couple of weeks. Yes, you’ll have questions. That’s only natural. I bet you’re reading in no time.

One last question … why do you think this gift it is too expensive for you? It sounds like you have a loving daughter who wants to do something nice for her mother. She knows how much you love reading and wants to enhance the experience for you. You appear to have raised a thoughtful woman. I hope you can accept her gift.

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