Reading becomes high–tech hobby

Published 8:40 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I am a firm believer in the universal love of reading –– and I’m a little forceful with my opinion.

What proof do I have that all people like to read? Proof positive is the popularity of texting, Facebook and bookstores.

Reading and writing are our most basic forms of communication. We love the privacy of communicating by the written word. Texting, instant messaging and e–mailing are all reading and writing.

When my husband accompanied me to the closest Barnes and Noble one Saturday night, he was stunned when the store was open late, mystified when we had to search for a parking place and awestruck by the crowd.

Looking at the crowd and taking in the energy and community of the patrons and booksellers, my husband said, “Book stores are the singles bars of the new millennium.”

Although the only beverages at the bookstore were caffeinated, non-alcoholic ones, my husband does have a point. Bookstore cafes have become our gathering places. The coffee, the WiFi and the old-fashioned books create an energy we crave.

E–readers, handheld electronic devices with downloadable books, are now taking books high tech.

With Amazon pushing a new Kindle, Barnes and Noble releasing its Nook and Sony marketing its Daily Edition e–reader, competition for reader loyalty runs rampant.

“My husband Johnny gave me a Kindle for our anniversary,” said Pelham resident and avid reader Lisa Massey. “When I opened his gift, I’m afraid my face didn’t hide my disappointment. I like the weight of a book in my hands. I didn’t want an electronic reading device.”

Massey is my first friend to own an electronic reader.

“Really it’s a great little gadget,” said Massey. “I’ve grown to love my Kindle. Its small size makes it great for travel, and I like the convenience of downloading books instantly. Having books stored electronically saves shelf space in our home too.”

My high school creative writing class has been studying the implications of ebooks for both readers and writers.

One of my students compared downloading books to downloading music. We noted that many blogs were downloadable and wondered if their authors would receive payment. Mostly we wonder if books, magazines and newspapers really will go completely electronic.

If electronic readers help more people discover the joy of reading, they’re worthwhile. I don’t think I’ll personally ever be able to completely forgo my lifelong addiction to the feel of a book or searching the mysteries of the actual printed page.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at