How To Read An E-Book.
Posted November 9, 2014on:
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.
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!”
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.