Books, Mind, Opinion — June 24, 2012 2:22 am

A Literary Love Affair (New-School Style)


Wherein our favorite Jane Austen addict and all-around book geek gushes about her digital reading device.

Photo by Danielle Koval.

OK, so it wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, when I received this new-fangled object, I wasn’t even interested in investing my time or my money in a product that had just hit the market. But there it was on Christmas morning, under the tree: a Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet. There were no heaping stacks of leatherbound classics, no scandalous paperback political biographies or Jane Austen-wannabe adaptations waiting for me. Just this…. thing.

I had only a vague inclination of its capabilities and thought that taking up with such an attractive contrivance would be akin to turning my back on good old-fashioned books, those close friends that had always been there to comfort me since the first day that I had learned to read.

Our courtship lasted two days; after that, I was hopelessly hooked. Never have I been so easily wooed by a single piece of technology. I knew my life would never be quite the same. After becoming comfortable with the ins and the outs of the little device’s user-friendly anatomy, I began to contemplate why I had ever been so e-reader-phobic. I thought that the NOOKs and Kindles of the world were evil objects that would eradicate the book industry, and my cavalier attitude had prevented me from realizing that their true purpose was to make reading more interactive and accessible, not to close down my favorite bricks-and-mortar or online bookstores.

Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet

Oh, Nook, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. First, I adore the customization that the NOOK affords me while reading. Although I believe that I now read at a more accelerated pace with my NOOK, this is an ideal device for any reader: slowpokes, speed demons or even casual page-gazers.

Second, if I’m not satisfied with what I see on my screen, I can change it. Not liking the portrait view? I’ll just set my NOOK on its side and the landscape view appears. Getting tired of the bland Times New Roman typeface? There’s a cornucopia of alternatives. Is the font too light or my screen too dim? Both can be adjusted with the click of a button.

Third, if I don’t recognize a particular word, or if some phrase like “through the looking glass” evades my logic, I just highlight it and the definition magically appears, or NOOK will explain its significance to me in traditional Spark Notes fashion.

Fourth, I can still share my books with my friends. Most e-readers have e-share novels so that people can electronically loan, say, “The Hunger Games” or any other feverishly popular novel to a friend, so I never lose the ability to stay up-to-speed with my cronies’ favorite reads.

What I love most of all is that I can still keep my date nights with Charles Dickens. But now I also have the options of lounging around my house with my NOOK in hand, surfing the web, playing “The Game of Life,” listening to Keith Urban on Pandora or watching the latest episode of “Once Upon a Time” on Hulu. Who needs an iPad when my NOOK has Word, PowerPoint and Excel, as well as a plethora of apps that enable me to send personalized greeting cards, play the piano and even plan a trip to jolly old England?

It’s undeniable: I’m a NOOK convert and I’m happy to say that I saw the light—on the screen, of course—and have gone paperless. My NOOK and I go everywhere together now, and I never would have imagined that this digital object would become such an extension of me, as my books once were. Cuddling up with my favorite Penguin Classic, “Pride and Prejudice,” is still just as rewarding of an experience as it used to be, but now I don’t just read about Mr. Darcy, I can see him, too. 



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