Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Tale of Two...Formats...

In my literature-loving household, everyone always keeps books close at hand. To support our pursuit of pleasure reading, we used to breeze over to the town Library (1.5 miles away) as often as we liked, to browse and choose new material. Why the past tense? Because the building has been closed since January 1st, 2011 for renovations. (And even though every time we drive by we send out "Hurry Up and Finish" vibes, the work still seems to progress at a snail's in "I don't think even Construction Cephalopods could move any more slowly"...) Since then, we've had to explore other options, such as the next nearest county facility...which in my opinion is old, poorly-stocked, and a bit grungy. Slightly further afield, in the adjoining jurisdiction, lies a bright, cheerful Library with rows and rows of nicely-filled shelves. However, it's a 20-minute drive each direction, in the middle of nowhere, on the way to absolutely a planned, dedicated trip rather than the "need a book, back in 15 minutes" routine which had us so spoiled before.

In the interim, the beneficiary of our addictive reading habit has become: Amazon. Although I usually watch pennies pretty carefully, books are never something on which I've felt extravagant spending money. In doing so, though, it turns out I may have inadvertently spawned my sons' snobbery toward borrowed books. I'll never forget the first time Derek declined to visit the library with me, earnestly explaining that he'd rather OWN books, so he can reread them over and over. Interestingly, both boys have also scorned the Kindle, adamantly insisting there's no substitute for holding an actual book, turning the pages, blah blah blah. Sigh. (And when did they become such throwbacks? This is shockingly, uncharacteristically-technophobic for my plugged-in children...but wait, stay tuned...)

It's also been informative to watch the evolution of our Family Reading Habits. For example, I've always been someone who focuses on one story at a time before continuing on to the next. That is, until I bought a Kindle so I could carry a light, compact device around campus in my work tote. Now I tend to have a library stack on my nightstand, and an e-book for on-the-job downtime. I've noticed that Riley is often in the middle of two volumes--one he reads at home, and another he schleps back and forth to school. Derek always has one book he's reading for entertainment, along with whatever novel is currently assigned for English class. And Husband has developed into somewhat of a Book Scavenger...rifling through my pile and choosing whatever looks most intriguing to him, rather than making the journey to the distant library himself.

So, for quite some time now, although we continue to mourn the absence of our beloved library and anxiously await its return, (this Summer. We hope...) our makeshift system has functioned pretty smoothly. But then (cue swelling, ominous, music) we experienced a full-blown...Biblio Crisis! You see, I had finished my on-loan books and was ready to return them. Husband wanted to read one of them, however, causing me to miss making the trip on my day off, thus delaying it until sometime next week. So, in the absence of anything to read, I was forced to revert to the Backup Plan...and download a new book to my Kindle to tide me over until such time as I could schedule in an hour or so to visit the next county. Meanwhile, a friend of Derek's from school had recommended a title to him, and even handed him a copy to try. (Middle School Boys' Book Club--L-O-V-E it!) When he showed it to me, I awarded an enthusiastic two-thumbs-up, having recently enjoyed it myself. Well...Derek devoured it in a few days, gave it back to his pal, and came looking to me for the sequel. "Of course, honey, I'd be thrilled to let you read it...but it's on my Kindle..." Oh, the dawning horror: you mean, we have to SHARE? (Shudder...) So I surrendered my little reading machine (gasping theatrically)...but snatched it back as soon as he turned in for the night.

This dilemma has directly resulted in a complete, overnight attitude reversal, regarding the previously-maligned e-reader format. Suddenly Derek clearly recognizes the value of having a book always at the ready--or less than a minute from electronic delivery, at least. I further enlightened his world by imparting the good news that some libraries are equipped to lend you e-books as well. His expression brightened, "That's great! Then you wouldn't have to worry about getting library books in tattered condition!" A stunning turnaround, as you can see. From there, it was only a very small micro-leap to the inevitable: "Mom, do you think I could get a Kindle Fire for my birthday?" Yeah, who didn't see that coming? He continued, "That way, I could play games, listen to music, and read, all on one tablet!" (And let's not forget: Mom could have her Kindle back, right, son?) So, theoretically, in 2-1/2 months when Derek turns 13 (one moment: yiiiiikeeeesssss) we could present him with his own Kindle...which would be nicer than mine...heyyyyyy, my birthday's in April, too...I wonder if we can finagle some kind of 2-for-1 deal? Ah, the perils of Life in Nerdland...

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