For my birthday recently, I was given a Nook e-reader as a group gift from family. My initial response was surprise and delight. It was one of those things I would never have bought for myself, yet I'd been charmed by the commercials and thought having lots of books on one device was a great idea. My enthusiasm began to wane when the initial set-up process took me a couple of hours (why do wi-fi router manufacturers set a password in the factory that they don't pass on to customers?). When I finally managed to get online, I started looking into my buying options. There were lots of new releases to pick from and a few older options from my favorite authors. Magazines were also plentiful. But when I stepped away from the Nook and really thought through the consequences, it's usefulness to me became questionable.
The truth is this: I already have a computer (at work and home) and an i-phone (curse those games!) that take up a considerable chunk of my time. In the last couple of years, I've developed frequent headaches from staring at a computer screen. Did I really want to add another one to my life? Though some books have bored me, I've never developed a headache from staring at the printed word. Besides that, shopping for new reading material would just be too easy with an e-reader. I knew that I would end up buying more books and magazines than I already do just because the result would be instantaneous. Good for Barnes & Noble, not so good for my budget. If out-of-print books were on the menu, I might have been more easily tempted. I recently discovered a copy of Yvonne de Bremond D'Ars' "In the Heart of Paris" in a box lot I won at a silent auction and have been absorbed in her engrossing tale of parceling out a house full of antiques to five very different nieces--not something I would come across on a Nook.
Ultimately I decided to draw a line in the sand, and I drew it at the Nook. The technology wheel is going to keep turning at a breakneck pace and ever-new enticements are going to be put before us. No one will decide for us that enough is enough. It's up to us to decide which devices make our lives easier/better and which ones monopolize our time and energy at the expense of the things that matter to us in the long run. So my Nook is going back to the shop. No doubt I'll regret my decision at some point in the future--particularly when I'm travelling. But when I crack open a book at the end of the day and pick up where I left off, I won't for a minute wish I was staring at a brightly lit screen. Perhaps I'm setting back the concept of a paperless society. But when it comes to books, I can live with being a traditionalist.