Time to eRead (2)

A few weeks ago, while dusting the book shelf, I came across the Nook Color my sister had so graciously packed up and given me once she was ready to move on to a newer gadget. It’s been on the shelf, unused, for about two years.

I wrote a post about my intentions to take a class and learn how to use it and see what the benefits might be (Time to eRead). I am happy to report that I did indeed attend the class.

There were about 12 participants there, all much older than I, and two instructors, both of whom worked for the technology “department” of our county library. The class lasted for about an hour, the first half hour devoted to what ebooks are available and how one actually goes about accessing them and downloading them.

It’s a fairly simple process. I would go to the library’s website and either enter a specific title, a certain author, or just click on the ebook/audio book section. It is possible to “check out” five ebook titles at once, for a period of two weeks. “Check out” basically means download the title to my device. Though the books are digital, the library still has a limited quantity of them to “loan” at any given time. Therefore, a certain title may not be available when I want it and I might have to put it on hold (i.e., get on the waiting list until others “return” their “copy”). I have two weeks (or three, but the default borrowing time is two) to read the book, at which time it will “go away.” Yep, it will just disappear from my eReader. If I am not yet finished with it and want to continue reading it, I can go back into the library’s website and request it again, either getting it right away or being added to the end of the waiting list.

The second half of the class was devoted to setting up our various eReaders–Kindles, Samsung, Nooks, and a few others–so that we could access the library and start checking out titles. We were divided into groups according to which type of device we had and given a list of step-by-step instructions to download the app we needed. The two library employees floated among us and offered help when we got stuck.

We all needed them at once. For various reasons. And for more than a minute or two.

I made it through most of the steps on my own and got my device ready to download books. But then, when I was on the library’s site, ready to download my first title, my Nook Color went to a blank screen. It seemed to be trying to load, or download, something, but it just got stuck there. For too long. For several attempts in a row. Something wasn’t right.

I asked for assistance and the facilitator was just as confused as I was.

I asked him, “Could it be that this device is old and outdated? I think it’s about three years old.” I imagined myself attending a smartphone class a few years back. Back when I still had a flip phone. I probably would have had some difficulty in a smartphone class showing up with a device like a flip phone.

The library employee admitted that he hadn’t seen a model like mine and wasn’t familiar with it, but that that shouldn’t matter. It should work.

I kind of wanted to just give up. I mean, I can check out real books and hold them and smell them and turn the pages and love them. Giving up would give me permission to do all the aforementioned. I didn’t really need to figure out the eReader.

But I noticed that, though everyone else was having some difficulty, they weren’t giving up. They were just waiting patiently until someone could come and help them through the steps.

After an hour and ten minutes, I had to get going. I hadn’t been home yet that evening and I had children to feed and other things to do.

The library guys reminded me about the weekly technology classes, where anyone could show up with any type of technology and get some help with it. Good to know. But those classes were during the day, during my working hours.

“And,” said the guy who helped me, “you can also get a half hour appointment with one of us if you’re still having trouble.”

Hmm, that sounded pretty good, I thought, as I walked out. Maybe I’ll do that. Because I don’t want to give up on the idea.

Next step:  half hour free private lesson. Gotta love the public library!

Time to eRead

Several years ago – four? – I wanted the Kindle. I thought I was the perfect candidate to own a Kindle, to test one out, to let others know if holding an eReader could be as fulfilling as holding a real book in my hands. Was the weight, the feel, the smell really as much of the experience as I believed them to be or could I easily exchange those things for the ease and efficiency of an eReader? And what were the benefits of an eReader anyway? I hadn’t really heard.

I never got the Kindle. My wants weren’t high on the priority list back then. Plus, with the beginning of the recession, I was rediscovering library books. Any book I wanted, for free! Just get online, request the titles, wait a few days, and then pick them up in my (practically) personal on-hold shelf area. No more paying for books.  No more already-read books piling up in my house. I fell in love with the library all over again.

A couple of years ago my sister boxed up and sent me her slightly used Nook Color. She had a laptop, an iPad, an iPod, an iPhone, and, if I recall, some newer, fancier reader. It was kind of her to think of me and I very much appreciated the random gift. I plugged it in, charged it up, and moved about on it a few times and that was it. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it, how or where to get titles.Nook

I heard that certain titles were available for a dollar or two. At the time, though, it didn’t make sense to pay for titles that weren’t on my absolute must-read list. It didn’t make sense to pay for any titles, really, when I could borrow books for free at the library. And it didn’t make sense to accumulate books, even if they were electronic, during that period in my life when I was really trying to downsize and simplify.

So the Nook Color went unused. I have yet to read a single book on it.

But I know that things are changing, that sometime in the future there may not be many physical titles that we hold in our hand, that more and more books are only available electronically. I’ve heard that libraries are spending more on audio books and electronic titles because they cost so much less than actual books. I realize that I need to get with the program, to learn more about electronic readers. I’m fairly technologically savvy in other areas; I need to jump on the eReader bandwagon, too, and not get left behind.

I also want to know more about eReaders because, as a writer, I may someday want to publish an electronic version of some of my work. Right now, I can’t even visualize what that might look like, and I know nothing of the process. The first step, it seems, is to start reading ebooks and getting a feel for them and how they are similar or different to traditional books.

I read in the paper today that our local library is offering classes on getting started with eReaders. They set the classes up for after Christmas because many people get eReaders for Christmas and don’t know how to get started with them. I also read that the library now has quite a few titles for eReaders.

This class is for me. Now is the time. I chose two dates that should work, will work, if I make a concerted effort to get there and nothing else comes up. Both days are in January. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m sure I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.

In the meantime, I’ll keep holding my precious books in my hands, carrying them with me, feeling them, breathing them in. I know that sounds kind of strange, but I also know you get what I’m talking about.

Do you use an eReader? Which one? And what are your thoughts about eReaders?