Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bloodless Nerd

I was reading this about books and Kindles and other e-devices.  In the article, children's author Penelope Lively (whom I've never heard of) states that "anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd."  Here's the entire original article.

I love books.  I grew up with them.  Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that I practically wet myself when I get ahold of a new book.  I also grew up with records and CDs, and non-digital television, and analog telephones and dial-up internet.  I have some nostalgia for those things, but I would not, could not lament their loss because their replacements make life better.

Half of my library is still made up of paper books.  But here's the thing:  books are not a status symbol.  Ms. Lively's quote seems to encapsulate the position of a lot of people.  And I think the reason is because having loads of books makes people FEEL smarter.  Others walk into their houses and see all the books and assume they've read them and assume that they're intelligent.

Owning books doesn't make you smarter, reading them does.  So who gives a crap whether you read them in book form or from one of the many wonderful e-devices now available?

Opinions like this annoy me because they seem to try imbue paper with more significance than it actually has.  The manner in which a story is transmitted from storyteller to audience is less important than the story itself.  I think e-books are the way we're going to bring boys back to reading.  Devices that allow them to read whatever they want without fear of bullying are amazing to me.  I wish I'd had them.

Also, I am a bloodless nerd.  Below are pictures of my library and my e-library.  And you know what?  I've read all those books.


  1. i love your library--it's so unique!

    and i totally agree with you. it's about reading the books you have, not showing them off. seriously.

  2. Aleeza: Thank you! That's my favorite room in the house. It was odd when I moved in. We didn't know what to do with this odd little space that had these weird exposed beams. We jokingly call it our library.

    I don't know, I'm attached to books too but I feel like people who make blanket statements condemning a technology or anything at all, are missing the boat. I use this program called Calibre to manage my e-books and it's so neat because it lets me keep notes on them, download reviews and summaries and all kinds of stuff. It's not as satisfying as being able to run my fingers over the spines of my physical books, but I adjusted to not having CDs and I'll adjust to only keeping physical copies of books that I really treasure.

  3. I don't know. I think there are advantages to both. One thing I have always loved to do is get a look at a person who I've recently met (perhaps a new girlfriend)'s library. You can learn so much about a person by seeing what they read.

    On the other hand, there's no reason you can just have a conversation with them about reading.

    I'm reading Ghost Medicine on my Kindle right now. It's my first e-book. I have to say that in general I still prefer "real" books, but the Kindle has some serious advantages. When I go out of town next week, and have like 30 books in that tiny little package? That right there makes it all worth it.

  4. Matthew - I think people will always love books. In the same way that people will always love records. But I don't think that they should display the kind of slavish devotion to them that the author in the article did, dismissing the people who use them.

    I remember the first trip I took with my Kindle. I had a MacBook Air for writing and my Kindle. I put it all into a protector the size of a small trapper keeper and sailed through TSA checkpoints. I was reading Brandon Sanderson's THE WAY OF KINGS, a 1000+ page fantasy novel. That experience right there made me a lifelong e-reader fan.

    What I wish, is that e-readers would be treated like computers are now for movies. You can buy e-books alone if you want or you can buy the book. Or (like a lot of blue-ray movies) when you buy the book, you can get a digital copy free. I think that would be a fantastic way for publishers to add value to books. Giving away the e-copy costs them nothing, and it allows me to have my physical copy of the book while still being able to read it whenever i want.

    Compared to THE MARBURY LENS, GHOST MEDICINE is a quiet book. But one that I still think about because the characters were all so heartfelt.

  5. You're the coolest bloodless nerd I know then. Very cool room, btw. Envious.

    For me, I'm one of those "books, I love 'em in my hand--oh, the touch, the feel, of paper, the stationary of our lives" type of people. Are you waiting for a "but" to come? Yeah, well there's a J-Lo sized "but" because once I got my Kindle I was hooked. I kind of feel like I'm on i-Tunes when I buy books on my Kindle, hard to explain. And as a new father, I tell you, being able to read with one hand and in the dark...dude, Kindle allows me to read while the lil dude sleeps in my arms. I'm a paperback and hardcover lover, but I have now have whored myself to the Kindle as well. I'se gets around, Shaun. Keep it on the down-lo.


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