Loretta Bolger Wish ponders on...Covid, Collecting and My E-Book Conversion
I've always loved print books-- the way they look and feel, the fun of tracking them down in dusty old shops and the joy of revisiting the treasures on my own shelves.
For six decades I'd been a hard copy reader, from The Cat in the Hat to The Girl on the Train. I kept insisting that was how books were meant to be enjoyed, even as one friend after another switched to Kindle or some other electronic format. Even after I started playing stories on CD in my car and gave up my daily newspaper in favor of following world events online. Even when my novel got published as an e-book and I joyfully took note of all those who ordered it.
E-books have been a godsend for people who love to read, something I hadn't understood for years. Instead I stuck to my print volumes like the music devotees who prefer scratchy recordings on ancient vinyl or the writers who input everything on primitive manual typewriters.
Then COVID-19 hit. No more bookstore adventures, no library visits and no book club meetups to chat about recent discoveries and swap the ones we liked best.
Initially I settled for reading or re-reading what I had on hand, but new titles were coming out all the time. Being unable to go out and buy an author's latest work was frustrating. It was like being friends with a Godiva salesman who kept the sample chocolates under lock and key. So I cracked, ordered a few e-books and hoped I could figure out how to navigate them.
The first surprise was that they were so user friendly, even for someone like me who never met a download I couldn't bungle. They're faster to read than traditional books, a huge plus if you're deep into a page-turner and eager to find out what happens next. It's fun to watch e-text fly by like sheets torn off a calendar in a classic movie.
When you're ready for more, you can get them online like lightning, compared to the days or weeks you wait for snail-mail books to reach you. The gratification is more immediate and, of course, cheaper since you pay less for e-books and avoid shipping fees.
Reading in bed! My husband could ease into sleep on the dark side of the room, curled up with his tablet, while I wrangled a clunky hardcover under glaring lamplight. Why hadn't I noticed?
Now I realize it wasn't the true reader in me who clung to those print volumes. That was the book collector, the one who cherishes autographed Mary Higgins Clark bestsellers, Golden Books bought for my grandson and vintage illustrated Little Women editions.
It's my inner reader who savors a good saga no matter how it comes to me: paper, iPad, TV, even strangers at parties. That's the one who finally embraced e-books, made them part of my story landscape and hopes more readers will learn to do the same.