***Preface: if you own a Nook or a Kindle or any other e-reader device, please know that YOU don't annoy me. Just e-readers (the technology, not the reader who reads electronically) bug. I still love YOU!***
Ever since Christmas, approximately 82% of the phone calls I answer at work start something like this:
"Hi, I got a ___________ [Nook, Kindle, other e-reader device] for Christmas and somebody told me I can download e-books for free from the library."
Deep sigh. Actually, I don't really sigh. I grit my teeth a little bit, but it's surprisingly easy to smile while gritting. That question combines two things that really, really bother me: 1—the "I can never actually purchase a book I want to read! Who BUYS BOOKS?" attitude and 2—unsubstantiated rumors. I'd really like to know who this "somebody" is that's spreading the get-your-e-books-for-free-from-the-library rumor.
It's worse than the time that Merilee Crook spread a rumor that no one should kiss me (especially not the boy we both liked) because I had mono. (I didn't have mono.)
Because here's the thing: sure, some big city libraries do have e-books you can check out. For free! But ours doesn't. You can use Netlibrary or Overdrive for e-books, but there are about 27 titles to choose from, all of which are highly boring. You're not going to find Outlander or The Stand or Twilight there. (Gasp!) If you want e-books on your e-reader, you're going to have to buy them.
And then the complaining starts. People want to read books without buying them—hence the library. But there's just not a system in place (yet...I'm certain there will be) for checking out many e-books. I'm certain it has to do with copyright and ownership and other stuff that makes my brain glaze over. And also makes my point for me.
Books (the kind made of paper and ink, with a cover and possibly a ribbon to mark your spot) are easy. You buy one and then you open it up and read it. You own it; you hold it in your hands. You turn the pages. You can write in it and fold the pages down and love it. You can remember your history in conjunction with your copy of that book. I can't bond with electronics like I can with a book.
And yeah, I know the plug: you can carry around your entire library in your purse on an e-reader. (But only the library you've purchased!) Generally I have never needed my entire library all at once. If I'm going to be somewhere with plenty of reading time, I plan ahead. I bring three or four books along and I am happy.
But when it comes right down to it, the reason e-readers annoy me is that I love books. Real books, the ones you read with both your mind and your senses. I love the smell of a book, even if it's dusty; love to hold it in my hands. Love to turn the pages. And I am deeply terrified that the e-readers of the world will manage to overthrow the book readers, and then books will stop existing. I don't want to live in a world without real, live books.
Plus, you can't exactly read your Nook in the bathtub now, can you?