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i hate books 2010-01-22 14:56 UTC
a confession: I hate books, and I always have. Not that they're a whole bunch of words, thoughts, stories, etc. compiled into one thing, and that they've been the primary means of developing and maintaining the collective brain of humanity across generations and distances, in large part creating the utterly kickass lifestyle that I enjoy today, when compared to the nasty/brutish/short existence of my forebearers - that part's fine. It's the physical aspect that sucks to me. You don't have to look too hard to find someone who revels in the paper-ness of books and savors holding them and smelling them and thumbing through them and all that - I just don't get it.

I didn't like them in the late 70's and early 80's when I did most of my paperback reading. I remember the frustration of holding the thing and keeping the pages from curling out of sight, especially toward the front or the back of the book - and as it got dark, I didn't like having to hold uncomfortable positions to keep the words in range of little night lights. I hated losing my place - either due to my bookmark dropping out in between reading sessions, or me dropping the book - and having to spend a minute or more to find it when I pick the book up.

I didn't like textbooks in high school, college, or law school - a low point was when I slipped and fell with a backpack full of legal textbooks on an icy hill in Ithaca, NY, spraining my ankle so bad that I had a blood-drain-bruise-line around the bottom of my foot for a couple of months. I've done what I call coma-reading - going through the motions of reading several pages (or more) without paying attention at all, then realizing I either need to re-read from back where my brain stopped working, or just move on. I attribute at least some of that to the crappy physical features of the books distracting me -- of course, sometimes it has been the brain-crushingly-boring text itself.

I started on electronic reading as soon as I could - even on CRT monitors. I picked up an HP 95LX handheld computer in, I guess, 1995, then got the first Treo when it came out in 2002. I don't think I'll get a Kindle (DRM bugs me more than books), but I've been reading on my G1 phone a lot. Holy crap - what an improvement! You can even set most of these devices up to scroll at a comfortable speed so you can read without moving at all (but to the extent that your preferred rate is variable, this really doesn't work). Backlighing completely removes the getting-dark problem, and all the issues that go with that. You start reading where you left off last time with zero effort. Coma-reading is a thing of the past. I could go on. (btw, a friend showed me her Kindle, and it's awesome in the areas I'm talking about - but no DRM for me - maybe I'll get a rooted one someday and read public domain stuff on it).

What motivates me to write this is that a bookstore which has been under my office for the last 10 years (probably longer than that) is having a going out of business sale. Ack! I'm not going to miss it - it's true... I've been watching as the inventory thins and the prices drop, and it's been interesting to watch what sells and what doesn't as time bears on. Currently, they're near the end - 65%-90% off, and the fixtures are for sale - there are 4 days left (if you believe the signs), and not too many books left. I finally bought something - a probably useless coffee table book on Jazz - $3.25 with tax - down from a printed price of $22.95 on the back cover (it's soft cover) - there were lots more of them. Other things still around are Rob Zombie calendars, books on witchcraft, romance novels, self help books, and a lot of various other things - people's distaste apparently applies to particular genres, and then to particular titles in more favored genres. Anyway, if you want a big softcover book on jazz, act now!
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