One of my favorite pastimes is indulging in a good book or music with a riveting melody or pensive lyrics. As a Peace Corps volunteer in a somewhat rural area in Central America, both of these things are hard to come by (in English) and expensive. I, of course, have my iPod, and the few books that I could fit in my suitcase. The Peace Corps office, much to its credit, also has a library of books (mostly in English) left behind or donated by other volunteers. I am very much appreciative of the opportunity that this affords me, but I have had a hard time finding books that interest me. There is a surplus of romance and mystery novels and a conspicuous absence of classics.So, this past week I downloaded the Barnes and Noble eReader and signed up for an online account on their website. With my download and account, I received a free e-copy of a pocket dictionary and five classic novels (only two of which I have read).

In the past week, I have purchased three more e-books and spent countless minutes browsing online book clubs and digital titles.
 At first, I was simply excited about cheap and easy access to titles I had been meaning to read for ages (since many of the Barnes and Noble classics collection are available in digital format). However, I have found myself daydreaming about e-book possibilities. With smartphones and data plans, I could avoid ever having to carry a huge purse again! Those who know me know that every purse I buy has to accommodate at least the following: a cell phone, keys, and two pens (black and blue) in a smaller pocket, minimal makeup, planner, journal, and a good book. This kind of technology could mean that a bag would only have to accommodate a smartphone, keys, one pen, and my journal (which doesn’t feel quite the same digital). I may one day become a complete blog convert, but I am sure that the day is far off. I love the feel of writing on paper, and I don’t quite trust my internet connection (or phone battery) to be there every time a thought comes into my head.

This line of thought led me to thinking about a home organizing show I saw once where they put an entire (very large) cd collection onto an external hard drive and got rid of the hard copies.
 How far are we from doing away with bookshelves, cd collections, and entertainment centers? Will our children carry a Mac notebook in place of a Mead notebook? What does this mean for dating?

To some of you that last question may have seemed discontinuous.Think about it.
 The books, movies, and cds that a person has tell you an enormous amount about them. What their sense of humor is (Big Chill or Borat?), if they are studious (non-fiction or the 10 minute toilet reader?), and even their political leanings (Ani or Alan Green?).With a move of all media to an external hard drive, evidence would be virtually (no pun intended) inaccessible to observation while they are finding their car keys or changing their shoes. What’s more, how much a person has says almost as much about them as what they have. Personally, I know that the advent of the iPod has meant that my Vengaboys cd from high school has stayed around long past its expiration date.

If the space that an album, book, or movie takes up is only a question of mega bytes on a hard drive (which are increasing exponentially in capacity and decreasing equally in size), will we ever get rid of our outdated media again?
 Filling a box for the local book sale or reselling old cds is one thing, but what is the motivation to push delete on your online library or iTunes account? Does Moore’s Law mean that we can afford to hoard?

11/23/2009 11:49:39 pm

Morgan, you ponder a question that is at the heart of every library conference or meeting I've attended over the past few years. The general consensus is that book lovers love more than reading, they love the look, touch and smell of a book. Libraries, both public and personal will evolve to reflect the convenience & novelty of electronics, but people still buy books. Look at the success of Barnes & Noble, that is not the popularity of ebooks.

The ebook has it's place, as you have discovered. I am so very pleased to hear that you have reconnected with that lifelong friend, reading.


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    Ever since I was little I have enjoyed playing with words.  I recently went through some of my old journals (which I have been keeping since my freshman year of high school) and dug up some of my favorites.  Some of them I revised a little, and some I left as is.  Not all of the sentiments still ring true, but it is an interesting experience for me to reread and share them.  It's a little like opening an old letter from someone you haven't talked to in ages.  I am still writing plenty and I'm sure that there will be more poems and essays about my current experiences here soon.  Buen provecho!


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