Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters

Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters
by Jean Pendziwol

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing
Elvis, Joan M. Baril, customer poet Rob Lem

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Love my Kobo, I Hate my Kobo, I Love my Kobo, I Hate my Kobo…

By Joan Baril

 No more books in the suitcase.  No pile of books in the back seat when I am travelling. Only the Kobo in my purse, ready for the coffee shop, the quick lunch on the go, the wait in line at the border. 

 I got my Kobo Touch for my birthday and down loaded some of the latest Can Lit as well as Throw Like a Girl, short stories by Jean Thompson and Stories in an Almost Classical Mode by Harold Brodkey, a master of off-the-wall delights.  I added in some free stuff: The Dubliners by James Joyce for those times when I wanted to reread The Dead; Japanese Fairy Tales, Short Stories by H. G. Wells, a diet book, and a couple of previews of books, which I might buy, maybe.  

 When I got back to Thunder Bay, a friend promised to help me down load books from the library.  A bit tricky he said, but easy once you get the hang of it.

Great.  What could go wrong?  I watched the accompanying video and read the meager instructions. 

The Brodkey  and the Thompson lasted until I got to Arizona and then I whistled through The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt and A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe, both terrific novels. I carried the Kobo in my purse, so much more compact than a book.  The print was clear and easy on the eyes.  

But near the end of Vanderhaeghe, a problem.  Stuff was jumping into the page.  The screen to change the font would appear out of nowhere.  It was easy to swipe away, but still.  Then I noticed that sometimes the swipe to turn the page did not work.  Swipe, swipe, nothing. I watched the video again and learned the tap. Tap on the corner and the page turns.  Tap, no, tap no, tap, yes.  Pages on an e reader are short. So is my patience.

The diet book gave me pause.  From time to time, I wanted to go back to reread a section and I could not find it.  Recipes were scattered here and there.  To back up, one swipes the screen.  I swiped until my index finger was a nub and still I could not find the recipe I wanted.  I checked the index but that did not help.  A physical book is so much easier to manipulate, riffle through. 

Half way through The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott and caught up in a great story, the Kobo sulked.  Pages popped backward, jumped forward.  I got in the habit of checking the page number so I knew where I was.  I plugged it in to keep it charged.  Half way down a page, the thing backed up three pages.  Swipe swipe, damn.  Swipe, swipe, damn.  Reading became annoying.

I found myself holding the device carefully, so the page would not disappear. The slightest jiggle and away it would go, forward or backward, it did not care. 

Time to e-mail the help desk.  “Your query will be answered in two business days.” Yeah right.  As much a fib as, “your call is important to us.”

 Back to the directions where I noted an overlooked bit.  To restart your e-reader, insert the end of a paperclip into the hole on the back and press until you feel a click.” What the?  But I tried it, I pressed and I felt the click.  This action must have calmed the machine because the jumping around lessened, practically subsided, and when it started again, I gave it another poke.  Fortunately, the carrying case had a pocket, enough to hold a paper clip of two, ready for the next insertion.

Home again after a month in Arizona.  I felt reading by e reader was slow going but why?  Perhaps the fact that one reads a quarter of a normal page at a time, about 60 words rather then 250.  Then the swipe, or the tap or if necessary, the poke.  On to another quarter page.  I am a fast reader who inhales books and the hand flapping was slowing me down.

Or perhaps I had joined those of my friends who wanted a book in the hand, the feel of the page, the piece of paper bookmark, the heft, the book lying upside-down beside my chair, an invitation to loll and read.   I wanted a book I could back up and reread favourite bits, skip ahead if I wanted.  I like mooching around Chapters or the Northern Woman’s, often with a friend, picking up and putting down and checking the sale bins and then having a café Americano. I love bookstores and I do not want to give them up.

 So, I bought a book, a real book, “The Free World” by David Bezmogis and whistled through it with delight. 

Now I have a Kobo book (Half-blood Blues by Esi Edugyan) to carry in my purse and a “real” book (“Underground” by Antanas Sileika) to read at home.

 It makes sense in an e sort of way. 



A letter which discusses this article
Dear Joan,
 Just read your entry on "literarythunderbay.blogspot.com".

I bought a Nook e-reader when I was in Chicago. Wanted to avoid bring 20 pounds of books back to Thunder Bay. Convenient - the pile of books by me bed is lower. I miss the cover art and the feel of paper and turning pages. I can't write comments in the margins - I rarely do that in novels.

The Nook has behaved well. Purchasing books from Kobo was very frustrating - the customer service replies - more like a week after my request and then the reply was no different than the information on the website. I found a way to convert Kobo books and Kindle books into formats that I can read on Nook. A bit of technical messing around, but do-able.

I have just finished The Sisters Brothers and Half-Blood Blues. I like getting the book in a few minutes, rather than taking time to go shopping or ordering a hard-copy online. I think they are both excellent. Half-Blood Blues is so interesting for opening an aspect of history that I never had even a hint of before.

Brenda misses seeing what I am reading, even if she isn't interested. I'm sorry I can't just hand it on to her or others.

Best wishes,
Oliver Reimer

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