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 "".

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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