I am a bookseller by profession. I sell books. You know, the paper things that have words printed in them. Paper is the operative word here. So having heard Mags at AustenBlog sing the praises of eBooks for years, and years, I was still skeptical about a hand held contraptions that one could read an electronic book from. Why? I like the format of traditional books. They are pretty. They feel good in your hand. They smell wonderful. They look impressive on my book shelves. So what if I could have my entire library at my finger tips to throw in my handbag and take with me. Who needs that much info with them all the time, right? And, the real clincher was who wants another high tech thingamabob to tell you that you are incapable of understanding new technology without your ten year old neighbor kid explaining it to you? Geesh, I just figured out my cell phone after two years. Now I should read my books on another gadget? No thanks.
I was all set to be a book traditionalist the rest of my life and then my employer Barnes & Noble introduced a new eBook application that I could use on my computer – and it was free. In addition to this new spiffy electronic book reader, I get six classic novels downloaded for free, and wow, two of them are Jane Austen novels! Excellent choice B&N suits. Well done. Only Jane Austen could truly convert this curmudgeon over to a format so foreign to her sensibilities in one fell swoop. If I hated the blasted thing, I was not out one thin dime, and I already have numerous editions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility calling to me from my bookshelves. De règle!
The download was fast and easy, and it worked. There it was, right on my computer. Not only is it simple to navigate, it is customizable. You can change the text size, font choices, background colors, and other settings. I love the search the text feature to find all those Austen quotes that I can not quite remember by heart, and the most exciting feature that you can not do with a Kindle or other hand held devices, copy and paste as much text as you want into another document such as Word. Huzzah! The B&N website says there are over 700,000 books to download. 500,000 of them are from Google Books which have many scanned classics and out of print books. The application works on IPhones, IPod Touch, Blackberry, Smartphone, Windows and Mac.
The week after the announcement from B&N, many bloggers were chatting about it. The gals at Dear Author were disappointed saying it is not what they were hoping for and brings nothing new to the game. Mags at AustenBlog has big concerns about people being charged for books that they can download elsewhere for free. This may be true. Unfortunately I am not enlightened enough to debate the B&N App’s charms and foibles in comparison to other devices or applications. But for someone who has never used an eReader, and is not hooked into a Kindle or other proprietary hand held device, it is a start. Just taking the baby step and downloading it was a big move for me. I would love to save a few trees and publishers money on ARC’s and shipping, so I can see an immediate benefit if they get on board. I’ll let you all know in a few months if it has changed my reading habits at all. In the meantime, do head over to the B&N website and check it out.
Update: Forgot to mention free Wi-Fi at Barnes & Noble’s until January! So please come and visit me and camp out in the cafe and play on your putter!