the Little Red Reviewer

How To Read An E-Book.

Posted on: November 9, 2014

So, I have this issue with e-books.  I forget I have them.  it’s an “outta sight, outta mind” thing.  I know one of the benefits of an e-reader is that you can carry a bazillion books around with you, and they don’t take up any space and they don’t weigh anything, and they don’t fill up your house and make people worry you might be a hoarder.


but you see, that’s part of my problem with e-books. I don’t see ‘em, so I totally forget that I have them, don’t prioritize them, etc. this is a bad thing. like, a really bad thing.

Random kindle image swiped off the interwebs. Mine looks like the one on the right.

Random kindle image swiped off the interwebs. Mine looks like the one on the right.


My brain interprets the word book as a physical object that is experienced. Something with weight, something that has a certain amount of heft, something that requires a bookmark.  the act of reading is a very physical, whole-body experience for me. what’s the texture of the paper? how much does the book weigh? is the cover shiny or matte? (Matte is better, for TMI reasons) What’s on the spine? how is it bound? is it a “fancy” limited edition or special edition book? what’s the typesetting like? does the ink come off on my fingers? (i love it when that happens, btw) How old is the book? where did I get it? Who do I know who has read it before? how long have I owned it? When I’m reading for a review, I like to take notes on a piece of paper and use that paper as my bookmark.  The answers to those questions don’t matter, because they are not questions that are answered with your voice.  All of these things are part and parcel of my physical experience with a book, and it’s the uniqueness of the heft of the thing, the cover art, the spine, the binding, where it came from, the act of writing notes, the for lack of a better term the mental impression that makes looking at a tumble of words on a page into “reading”. And the experience of reading every book is completely different, making the mental impressions different.


still with me?

Anyway, an e-book doesn’t have those things. It hasn’t got the questions that my voice doesn’t answer.  Every e-book I read has the identical mental impression. They are tumbles of words on a page, and there is nothing to differentiate them into separate, unique, bookish experiences. I can’t even use a piece of paper as a bookmark. (yes, I know it has a bookmark function, that is not the point).


I have nothing against e-readers. I’m on my second Kindle, and as a gizmo, it’s damn cool. Battery lasts a long time, it fits in my purse, it’s not heavy, the interface is nice, i even do some slush reading on it.  the kindle is fine. If i wrote an amazon review of the thing, I’d give it 5 stars. But my brain refuses to accept it as a book, for the reasons mentioned above.


I have finally learned how to use Netgalley, which is neat-o, so I desperately needed a solution to my not-a-book conundrum.


How do you make a bookthing into a book?


how do you make a bookthing into a book?


(How do you get a crew to want to get off a nuclear sub… )


I needed to make a fake book. a book simulacrum. a bookthing that could trick my brain for a little while. (which is sort of how he got them off the sub)


What if I could print off the cover art and spine art (if I could find it), and wrap the printout around another book? I’d have something looks, weighs, smells, and feels like a physical book. AND I can tuck my notes piece of paper inside it. So what if I pick up something different to actually read it, I have something physical that tells my brain “oh neat. a book. let’s read it!”



2014-11-06 22.54.47


ok, so it didn’t turn out as pretty as I was hoping for.  Cover art was completely findable, but there was no way I was going to ask my geriatric printer to spit out 7 full color pages. I don’t even know if there is color ink in that thing. Everything might have come out some sickly color of light green for all I know.  So I made ‘em black and white text, like old ARCs used to be.  and made my own spine art. I used books that were as close as I could find to the right thickness, putting the Jemisin novella cover onto the skinniest book I could find (Doctor Who novelization) and the Lord, Lukyanenko and Bucholz around 300-400 page novels, and so on. I can even put my notes pages tucked in as bookmarks in the approx place I am. Seriously, this is an epic win for me. Remember in the 80s when our Moms wrapped our school textbooks in brown paper bag paper, and then you got to decorate the cover all year? It’s totally like that!


The awesomest part is that I didn’t bring any more books into my house! Which is a miracle.
And now I have another fricken’ stack of books taking over the coffee table. Ain’t no way I’m gonna forget about these now. Well, shit.  Better get to reading.

2014-11-06 22.56.00


18 Responses to "How To Read An E-Book."

That is a terrific idea! ❤


That’s even a better idea than my serial killer wall…


I will NEVER not have books. They’re just so fundamental to me. I love books and it’s not the same experience with a kindle. BUT, I do use the Kindle a lot now. I would say at least half if not more of my reading is on kindle and the pluses are starting to outweigh the negatives. I love the bookmark function which is just so easy. I love the ease and speed with which I can buy (in fact I love that a little too much!) but books arriving in a nano second after I’ve ordered them is a definite bonus! And I find that when I’m reading a really huge book (like the one I’m reading now) I almost resent the problem of keeping the pages forced open – kindle is really good for chunksters. But I still want the book – I sometimes feel that if I’ve bought the book I should be given the electronic version as well!! That way I could read on the kindle for ease! Sounds a bit silly though doesnt it. Plus I love the bookmark – I can highlight countless sentences, quickly and then just pull them all up as quick as pulling a rabbit out of a hat! I love that function. Especially with books where the dialogue is really clever or witty!
The problems I still have with the kindle are – I don’t feel like I have the reinforcement of the cover, author and book name – I know that sounds a bit daft but if i’m reading a new to me author on kindle sometimes I can finish the book and still not have the name embedded. There’s just something about seeing the cover on a regular basis to hammer a thing home. Also, I can’t rubber neck on public transport and check out what other people are reading !! Again, silly, I know – but how many books have you checked out other people reading and then wanted!! Definitely feels like a missed opp. The other main prob is the whole maps and illustrations – they’re pretty bloody useless on a kindle. Firstly, a detailed drawing or map in a book is bigger than the screen on your kindle and secondly it’s just easier to skip back and forward with a book by just keeping your finger in your page and glancing back and forth. So for me, the cover, illustrations and maps are rendered almost useless on a kindle and that’s not something I’m ever going to really come to terms with. But, I do like my kindle and I can definitely tell that I have less stacks – or, not less, but they’re not growing with the same momentum.
Sorry for the essay!!
Lynn 😀


My tablet has a Nook and Kindle option but I rarely use them. I have a few books on there that I don’t have a physical copy of but that’s about it. I love the actual book. Nothing is ever going to replace it in my life. I still hunt for the one penny books on Amazon and my library is growing all the time. People rely too much on technology these days. I’m just waiting for the world-wide EMP that will disable all of our technological gizmos and force us to go back to older things, like typewriters and physical books. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, but at least my bookshelf will be covered


I’m the same way with remembering authors on the Kindle. It’s one thing if it’s an author I’m already familiar with, but if it’s an ARC of a book that I’d never heard of before, the author’s name doesn’t stick with me as easily.

I love the Kindle for reading on public transportation though. Even though you can’t see what other people are reading, I like being able to start a new book if I finish the previous one I was reading.

My general strategy of balancing physical books and e-books is that the Kindle is for when I’m out and about, and the physical books are for at home.




Interesting idea. While I like it, I would take the time to do it. But maybe…


Of course, now I am checking out your stack of books like some lewd near-sighted male staring hard at a stacked woman on public transport. Yeah for Babel-17, one of my all-time favorites!


E.E. Smith? You are in for some seriously bad writing with that one.


Sometimes, kiddo, I think you’re really weird. Oh, I love you and all, after all I adopted you, but, really. Making up a simulacrum to remind you of a book you want to read on a Kindle? Really? Why not just get one of those little stands for the thing and stand it up on your coffee table / nightstand / end table / mantle / kitchen counter or wherever. Somewhere in your living space so you’ll see it. Once you get into the book, then the book itself should remind you, because you’ll want to keep reading.

I have read a total of 1 (one) e-book (by David Weber), on a laptop, using Kindle for the Mac, and it was…okay. Awkward, lacking all the book things you list. But then I don’t have or want an e-reader. E-books are, in reality, just files, and files are ephemeral things, here today and – oops! – gone tomorrow. Amazon can pull that file any time it likes, you know.

I’ll stick with REAL books, not e-files, for my reading, thanks. Recently I had a medical appointment and in the waiting room there were a half dozen of us. Two were just talking, two were messing with phones, one had an e-reader. I, of course, had a book. It was like a badge of honor. I was a reader, while they gazed at their screens, glazed expressions on their faces, thumbs at the ready. I turned pages, they pressed symbols.

All the time you spent on those fakes could have been spent reading. Or making cookies.


you think i’m weird only *sometimes*??? I’ll have to try harder. 😉

I completely agree with you that the ebooks are just files, no ephemera. Even if i used one of the little stand-things, the physical kindle doesn’t scream “book”. it screams “flat black thing”. i needed to connect “flat black thing” with the act of reading, and this seemed like a weirdo solution that would work for me. This seemed to be a good solution for me to get some ephemera. and it’s worked, so far. after i made the fakes, i took a good look at them, realized what i needed to do, and got a good 100 pages through Karen Lord’s Galaxy Game. It’s easier to read if i’ve got something physical to attach the act of reading to. So i read for about 2 hours. hmmm…. i suppose I could have been making cookies instead! Maybe tonight. Lemon ginger, or oatmeal raisin?


If not chocolate chip, then oatmeal raisin. Or oatmeal chocolate chip, with walnut chips…


I think it helps me that I buy a book and then read it – no backlog, no collection. I read exclusively through the Amazon app on my tablet, but I also process books not physically, but as words-to-ideas: the physical medium isn’t important to me. Buying electronically is a way of supporting the author without breaking the (my) bank!


Mostly this makes me curious what the TMI reasons are for matte. It’s not hard to cook up exceedingly inappropriate possibilities.

Also, nice idea. 🙂


Ha! That’s a neat idea. I’ve had in mind, for a long while now, some sort of physical marker of a book. Not for any issues I have treating an ebook as a book, they work just fine for me, but to remind me that I have the book in eformat. I was thinking some sort of printable cube ( with cover art, but I haven’t worked out the details yet.


ooh, i like those printable cubes! change the measurements a tad, and you’ve got a book simulacrum that you e-reader fits inside.


That’s a really good idea! I have the same problem sometimes. Usually I decide what I’m going to read next based on publication dates from a giant list of ARCs and review copies I’ve kept over the years, which is good at prompting me when it comes to titles, but less good at prompting me when it comes to what the heck the book’s even about. Usually at that point, if no titles are jumping out at me, I’ll go onto Goodreads and browse through my list of ARCs there and see if anything jumps out at me. Usually something does, by that point.

But honestly, your way sounds a heck of a lot simpler! :p


[…] Little Red Reviewer suggests one way to read e-books.  (I go for categorization and spreadsheets to keep track of my ebooks; which do you think is more […]


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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