Eenie, meenie, minie, moe

The dilemma, should you chose to engage: Ebooks vs. real books vs. audio books vs. movies

(Faithful readers, you’re going to have to suffer a little backstory for the newbies reading my blog. This, of course, ass-u-ming that anyone actually IS reading my blog.)(I know, I know, comments like this will NEVER bring me advertisers!)

Last month I mentioned that I went to see the movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and how much I enjoyed it, and how I was kicking myself for not reading the book first, years ago. I ran right out after the movie to pick up The Girl Who Played With Fire in paperback, and I read the 600+ pages in a couple days. This morning I tried to order a paperback copy of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest from my local Barnes & Noble store, to pick up later today, and got a text message back saying they only had a hardback copy available and that the price was $28, if I still wanted it. After careful consideration (and a quick shower), I declined their generous offer, and bought the book via Kindle for Mac for $9.99. Thus, in one trilogy, I will have had three very different experiences in the adventures of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Sander. I can also throw in the audio-book experience, but from a different author: In February, I listened to Dark Place by Gillian Flynn, the story of a young girl who was the lone survivor of a murdered family.

So, what’s a popcorn-loving, minimalist-techie, avid reader to do? Read the book asap, and proudly shelve the novel once finished? Conspiratorially buy the ebook version, thus stealing strangers’ opportunities to judge me by the cover of the book I’m reading? Wait for the movie to come out and indulge my snack-habit? Plug-in headphones and sit like a statue for umpteen hours? Ah, the agony of choices!

In the past 12 years, I have moved 5 times… more than some people, less than others. But the past 3 times I’ve moved, I’ve had to give away stacks of books, out of necessity, not desire. I currently live in a fabulous glass and concrete loft with my fabulous husband, but I no longer have room for a fabulous library. Ok, so ebooks sound like the way to go. And, if I save money on “real” books I can pay for my latest obsession, aka the iPad.

But, I LOVE curling up with a juicy paperback (yes, I usually prefer paperbacks to hardbacks because they’re more intimate and cozy). There’s something just so… intimate and cozy about books. Ok, so then, make room for more books, or learn to enjoy giving them away. (One specific comment about Larsson’s trilogy: When I read The Girl Who Played With Fire, I must admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by 600 pages of Swedish names of people and places, and got all the ‘holms and ‘sons confused, not to mention I’m sure I massacred the pronunciations. The movie didn’t present that problem.)

In February, when we were traveling and I did not have access to English books, I downloaded the audio version of Dark Place to my iTunes, and listened to people being bludgeoned to death while at a sublime tropical resort. Not bad, as I laid by the pool slathered in sunscreen. At least I didn’t worry about getting the book pages wet or greasy. Alas, audiobooks are two or three times as expensive as ebooks or “real” books. However, I learned a lot about how readers will “hear” my own books.

And, movies? Well, there’s the popcorn aspect, and the rapid delivery, and the enveloping atmospheric visual delight, but movie adaptations rarely live up to the book. Movies don’t usually have the option (due to time and money restrictions) to go as deep into a story as a well-written book. Plus, who has the patience to wait for the movie if the book is one you want to read? Not me, unless I completely drop the ball and overlook a good book, as in the case of The Dragon Tattoo.

So… clouds clear, sun shine, crowds hush, like the old E.F. Hutton commercials… In my humble opinion, there is obviously a time and place and reason for all of the above. I (as a writer and a reader) really, really, really, really hope that “real” books will always exist, but I also hope that the iPad will come down in price by October, my birthday and our next overseas trip, so I can load up on the newest, juiciest, most fabulous ebooks to pack in my featherweight carry-on.

Mr. Jobs, are you listening?

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