Posts Tagged ‘Martin Tupper’

Around the turn of this century, a lot of people were talking about “the death of books.” Audio books were booming, and the first e-readers were making their assault, unsuccessfully as it turned out. I declared myself a Patesaurus, an obviously threatened species that would go to its grave clutching a real book, perhaps Sven Birkerts’ The Gutenberg Elegies. I did not think books were dead, but I was afraid, like Birkerts, about “the fate of reading in an electronic age.” 

I’m still worried, but that didn’t stop me from recently buying a Nook, the e-book produced by Barnes & Noble. I had been thinking about a Kindle, an iPhone, a Sony and, of course, an iPad. But then I walked into my local B&N, where I had previously played around with a Nook, and was greeted by a booth front and center. Nooks now had free 3G wireless and an Internet browser. And I didn’t have to order one. They were in stock in the store. A half hour later, I was heading home to charge my Nook. Within minutes, it found the nearest WiFi hotspot, downloaded its new software with no prompting, and I soon found myself reading Pride and Prejudice. Along with Dracula and Little Women, Austen’s novel came pre-loaded on the Nook, which I started calling Nanook, my new companion in the digital wilderness.

Since then, I’ve have spent a good many hours with Nanook, learning how to easily navigate the touch screen controls, discovering that sometimes you scroll up instead of down, or left instead of right. I have changed screensavers and wallpapers, played with fonts and type sizes, used the Internet to connect to this blog and Yahoo. I’ve also purchased and downloaded several books — Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, China Mieville’s The City and the City, Candace Bushnell’s The Carrie Diaries — and sideloaded from my computer a couple of digital galleys of forthcoming books. I’m having fun.

I also feel a bit like a traitor, even though I’ve been reading regular hardcovers in between. And I rather suspect the Nanook’s novelty will soon wear off, like that of my iPod. It will be great gadget for travel, and I won’t be lugging a heavy bookbag every time I leave home. But there’s enough Patesaurus in me that still loves the look and feel and smell of books, the security of all those volumes stacked every whichaway around the house, crammed on shelves floor to ceiling. Me and books go way back, and I expect that to continue.

I did, however, buy a cover for Nanook, a custom leaf-green leather folder that holds it firmly in place yet allows me to easily access its controls.  It’s more like a book now. And a quote from the 19th-century writer Martin Tupper is imprinted on the front and continues on the back: “A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.”

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