The classics are dead.
I should already know that, of course: I’ve got a degree in Classical Civilizations, wherein I learned the useless skill of interpreting when Cicero was being snarky to the Senate, and figuring out the real facts in Herodotus’s rambling journals. (I wasn’t very good at either. But it was just my minor.)
I’m not talking about those kinds of classics, though. I’m talking about the Book.
When it comes to books, I’m a classicist. I like to hold a heavy hardback or even softcover in my hands, turn from one page to the next (or occasionally flip back, if I’ve dozed somewhere along a Crichton or Clancy research description [or want to re-read some naughty Barker bit]). Perhaps it comes from having grown up reading multiple books at any given point in my life, usually ones far beyond my limited comprehension level at the time (Thanks, sis!). I was one of those fools you see on campuses with a pack so full of books it made me hunch, plus an extra stack of books in my arms: an English major. And I loved it. Not the studying part, so much, but the reading. If I hadn’t been forced to read all of that Victorian, Gothic, and early American lit, I might never have done so on my own…and never discovered that I really enjoy much of those “old” works. (I still love them, actually. I make a point to re-read Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde every year…and I still rather enjoy The Marble Faun, no matter what anyone says.)
I also grew up reading comics – scores of them – and the satisfaction I would get from grabbing a new issue that still smelled of ink pressed on newsprint is one that I cherish even now. Sometimes, I go into the longboxes full of old 1960s Lee/Kirby books and just smell them for a moment, before I carefully peel open the cover once more. And it’s glorious.
But now, there’s a new kid in town. It’s called the e-reader. I know it’s not exactly new…but, like I said, I’m a classicist. One of the more popular brands is Amazon’s Kindle, which seems to be synonymous with the overall product, like Kleenex for tissues or Trojan for condoms. But there are others out there, too: Nook’s a good option, I hear; and the iPad is a strong multi-use alternative, if you like playing Words with Friends on a huge touch screen. (If you’ve got a preference or insight into one over the others, feel free to let me know.)
I don’t currently own an e-reader/Kindle/Nook/iPad/book-replacement-doohickey. But I need one. Not because I have such a strong desire to replace my physical library with a virtual one; nor because I’m looking for an easy way to read that next 1,200-page monster novel on my morning commute; nor even because it’s “cool.” Those are all fine reasons to get one, of course, but they’re not my reasons. No, my reason is because I like to write, and to share my stories, and it appears that the e-reader is becoming more and more the way to get that done.
I’ve known about the KindleNookPadThing for a while, now, but it was a simple request from a friend that really prompted me to think seriously about it. This friend simply asked me one day if any of my stories were available for download to a Kindle. My first response was an elated, Thank you for your interest! And then I immediately stopped in that reply, because I had no idea if that were true, or how the darn thing works from a publishing perspective…even just for personal documents! (Because, you know, I really want to use a device that costs $80-$200 to share that article of mine about over-the-top set box devices.)
So, now, I’ve got to get myself one.
I’m sure I’ll find another use for my NookiePaddle. Who knows? That use might even be reading! I’ll still always enjoy the feel of a book in my hands, though. And – if I can ever get to the point of publishing Fearless, this novel of mine which I’ve come to love so damn much – you’ll certainly see it in electronic form. But I’ve still got to find a way to make it a physical book. Because, if nothing else, I’d like to be able to fall asleep to and flip back pages in my own story, for once.