Monday, May 23, 2011
Some reporting, then, from the field.
I have found the iBooks (I bought Bossypants and a guidebook to Croatia) to offer a more alluring read than the Kindle books, thanks to the preview capability, the extras, the ease of navigation, and the more generous simulation of actual-book reading. And yet, I have leaned more heavily toward Kindle books because the titles I have wanted—In Zanesville, A Visit From The Goon Squad, Please Look After Mom, When We Danced on Water—have been either more readily or more cost-effectively Kindle available. During these past six weeks I have continued to go into bookstores and to buy books proper, continued to hold proper paper-and-spine books such as Cleopatra, Caleb's Crossing, Sweet Dreams, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius on my lap. I don't think I will ever willingly give up on my old book-buying habit.
I have also made use of the PDF Reader to read both my own adult novel-in-progress (I wanted to approximate the feel of the read before the book was sent out to editors for review) and Dana Spiotta's magnificent Stone Arabia. I'm clearly not a skilled PDF Reader user. I am not thrilled with, and could never look past, the floating nature of those pages, the inability to truly mark the text, the sense that I was reading a mere facsimile. I'm buying Spiotta's book when it comes out in July because I want to own it, have it on my shelves, pick it up with ease, flip to a favorite page. And certainly I am hoping that my own adult novel will move past the PDF Reader stage.
On the other hand, I have loved—loved—reading The New York Times on the iPad2. I still retrieve the weekend edition from the end of my driveway, still settle in with the paper version of the magazine. But I find the overall newspaper to be easier to handle on the iPad2—more alluring, more easily reviewed, more packed with the bright lights of videos and links. I don't annoy my husband with the crinkle and snap of the paper while he sits on the other end of the couch watching his monster river fish and World War II shows, and I am more connected to the news than I was, and that, alone, is worth the price of this machine. The New Yorker still arrives via the old mangled mailbox each Tuesday. I'm not quite sure that I want to go digital with that particular publication just yet.
Since I am soon bound for London and Berlin, I've also bought some travel apps and played with these. I'll be honest: I'm still going out to buy a travel guide or two. Call me old-fashioned. I like to dog ear my instructions to foreign places. The Berlin app, for the record, was far superior to the London app.
Last night I spent about four hours searching for new apps—reviewed several but remained unconvinced and finally went on over to Salon.com to get the kind of reading I was hungry for. In the midst of it all, I studied those increasingly famous Kindle Singles, feeling just a little amazed that Susan Orleans earned an entire NYT article for a piece called "Animalish" that appears to be the length of a single New Yorker magazine story. What, I wondered, would happen if all magazine stories got NYT reviewed? And while I absolutely adore Tim Gunn, I was surprised to discover that his Kindle Single "memoir" is but 15 pages long. Maybe I'll buy it anyway, to help mitigate the long flight to those foreign places.
I'm headed to the BEA on Wednesday and I think I'll likely be carrying a regular old book in my bag—perhaps a classic like Mary Karr's Liars' Club. I hope to come home with a regular old galley or two as well. I'm on the hunt for Michael Ondaatje's forthcoming The Cat's Table and I'll be stopping by the Grove Atlantic/Black Cat and Graywolf booths to see what these two fantastic imprints are up to.
All in all, I guess I'm saying, I am making my way. I'd love to hear from others on this journey.