• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Now If You Shoot My Dog I’mma Kill Yo’ Cat

When I packed up my bag for work this morning and hoisted the 500 or so pages of manuscript on my shoulder, I actually thought for the first time that maybe I should get a Kindle or a Nook. Then I thought, I’d rather be a hunchback than read on a screen. When I got on the train and unfurled my NYT, I noticed the man next to me reading from the well lit place of his ipad. Gosh, it sure looked cheery in there. And then I thought I can’t cope with any more chargers, passwords, etc. I imagined myself dangling from the end of a charger, the screen flashing: low battery, low battery. My epitaph: She Forgot Her Password.

Am I caving, softening, dropping a big fat Christmas hint? NO. No. no. (That was a diminishing echo.) Am I being knee jerk, Ludditious, digitally challenged? And what about the trees, the great north woods, the humming birds. Am I hurting the earth by reading your manuscript? Am I killing the planet with your memoir?

Some people say that all that matters are the words, the “delivery system” is irrelevant. Isn’t that like saying all that matters is the sperm,  not the hot hunk of burning flesh that delivers it?

Let’s not get into a big debate. I just want to take an informal poll. So please,  fill in the blank. My preferred delivery system is __________________________, and everyone else can go fuck themselves.

103 Responses

  1. Books. Printed.

    • My reason? I like being able to immediately tweet and/or post highlighted phrases and any notes I’ve added. I’ve sparked a number of conversations about what I’m reading this way and have recommended novels to friends and followers who may not have otherwise read them.

  2. I can’t answer while the kitten is looking at me that way.

  3. Paper and ink all the way, baby. I see the environmental reason for e-books, and mine, once in print by Random House, are now only available in e format, but I love the feel of a book in my hands!

  4. Books. Real books.

  5. Books, printed on decent weight paper and with thoughful cover art.

    Oh, and brought on a silver platter with a mug of coffee and a slice of cake (I can dream, can’t I?).

  6. Oral.

  7. Fur. Soft, white fur.

    Or paper. I can go either way.

  8. Paper.

  9. I like them all. And I find myself buying certain books for my nook that I otherwise would have waited to get from the library. But those lovely, old Modern Library volumes are my favorite.

  10. Books: on paper, with nice covers (I like to keep mine for a long time); NY Times: digitally (half the time I don’t get to it so it would be unconscionable to waste all that paper); Manuscripts: digitally (even more waste of paper when 99% get rejected). Now what’s with the creepy cat?

  11. paper
    the trees want to participate in this….

  12. Long form–paper. Magazines & newspapers–iPad

  13. Paper, in all of it’s forms, because it smells of words and enlists my compassion for the thoughtful, angst-filled writer that produced said words. An e-book doesn’t give me that come-hither look and I can’t imagine a day when it will.

  14. I love my iPad for reading because I can take a hundred books with me wherever I go. Try that with paper! I also love books on paper – a first edition son the iPad is meaningless.

    • A single book lying around—nay, the back of a cereal box—is enough to lure me from the most pressing obligations; I don’t know what would happen if I had a hundred at my fingertips. How many do you actually read in a week, Monique? In a day?

      It occurs to me that a possible outcome of the glut of reading materials being rammed into our psyches, like geese fattened for foie gras, is a kind of torpor, paralysis, or impotence. When we’re completely sated by reading material, what will we get it up for? I believe this is called the tyranny of choice.

  15. Depends upon the book. Quick-read novels are fine on my kindle. Some kindlings need to be paper books as well. Your Trees and Food and Loathing are on my book shelves at home and my Kindle in my purse. As are other intricate and tricky books which need my margin notes, like Tinkers, for example. Books I must have available for sustenance travel with me. Can’t imagine evaluating a manuscript on a kindle.

  16. I take it any way I can get it. Kindle for straight text, dead-tree books from the library for books I don’t want to buy. Hefty hardback reference books for my study library. I use the Kindle the most; I love carrying a library around in my hand. No backlighting for me, thank you very much, after a work day staring at a computer screen. No touch screen, either. I’m too lazy to lift my hand to turn the page in bed when a finger on a button does the work. I evaluate, highlight, and make margin notes of manuscripts on my Kindle for my critique group. Reading like a “real” book makes the weak spots easier to see.

  17. Ink on paper, please. Nice deckle edges too while I’m stating a preference.

  18. Having recently made friends with a fellow subway patron based solely on the book she carried aboard, I feel it has been confirmed once again – paper. ink. hard, soft, plain, elegant, as long as it smells better with age.

  19. Secondhand books. Or new ones.

    • Oh, yes, oh yes, the secondhand books! I keep telling myself to sell my read-to-death books on alibris or someplace, but then I always take them to the flea market so someone else can have the thrill of the find. The library and secondhand bookstores are where I often “taste” a new author. If I like what I read (and the author is still living) I buy new, so they can make a dollar or two in royalties, and keep writing.

  20. Reading for pleasure? Printed book. Editing? My big honking Samsung screen and track changes.

    I have an old Kindle and a Kindle Fire (and, btw, what is up with the book-burning branding?), and I keep buying crap on them and not reading what I buy.

    Stay pure, Betsy. Don’t cave.

  21. Paper. Definitely paper. The ways in which it’s superior are too numerous to name.

    Except when I’m traveling. When I’m traveling I load a whack of e-books on to my sony e-reader and don’t check any baggage.

    Definitely not the kindle, though. With the e-reader I can still buy books from my local, independent bookstore but with the kindle I cannot.

  22. Paper and ink. I love the smell.

  23. I only read printed books but I bring my iPad everywhere.

  24. Book in hand. I love the feel, the smell, the weight. I love books.

  25. A kindle is to books what a dvd is to the movie theatre…another way to read/watch a movie.
    I was alarmed when I received my Kindle as a birthday gift. I LOVE BOOKS…holding them, smelling them, seeing them and,of course, being surrounded by them. But the Kindle is lightweight, easy to read (in bed!), books are at my fingertips and without hassle as it communicates directly with Amazon and my account info.
    The novels are cheaper and I do not have to wait for a trip to the US or England (I live in France) to read what I want.
    I LOVE my dreaded Kindle 🙂

  26. Paper…metal corrodes, in a 1,000 years all those words on ipads and electronic readers will rust and the future could lose the past, a second dark ages brought on by the electronic revolution. And about those trees, don’t forget that the poorest of the poor recycle the metals in computers and e-readers.

  27. And I have never had to use my password! The battery time is HOURS and I can recharge it off my computer!

  28. Kindle but only because I have no choice

  29. Paper, but without the silverfish who (that?) lurk in boxes containing it.

    Anyway, the ending of your post is wonderful. Thank you for swearing in such a perfect way.

  30. That could be my epitaph, too.

    I think you can swing both ways. MSs on the screen, books on the page.

  31. Lettering on stone is pretty good. Sic Itur Ad Astra – as a motto for a part of my city ‘This way to the stars’. There are many other forms on stone: runes, epitaphs, laws, poetry. You don’t have to turn the pages, the words are right there, surprising, cocky, sorrowful, silly.

  32. i just ordered two of the same book, one regular, as i now think of it, and one for the iPad. iPad for bed, regular for if i ever have time to read in a day. so i drag the book around in my bag, and get into bed with the iPad, play a couple of games of solitaire, look at FB, a blog or two, and then read in big letters, nicely backlit, on a sepia background, without a lamp. i love it.

  33. My preferred method for books is hard copy although I occasionally buy books for my iPad. However, my preferred method for magazines is quickly becoming my iPad. I love the interactive features of the digital version of The New Yorker, including having the poems and some fiction read by the writers. I subscribe to the digital versions of Harpers and some lit journals. When it comes to books, I sometimes download digital versions of books I’ve read as hard copy because I like to use the highlighting and notes features of iBooks to study books on second and third readings.

  34. I’m a life-long book lover, and can’t imagine that ever changing. BUT I’m getting a Kindle for Christmas, and expect to fall in love with that, too. (Call me fickle.)

  35. For work, almost exclusively on my laptop, for pleasure, half and half: the old fashioned book, or the Nook.

  36. No child should be conceived without hot flesh, and plenty of it.

    Books, with attractive dust jackets.

  37. Books. But I’d use an e-reader in a heartbeat.

  38. Books. Tried reading once on my Ipad. Felt like sex in cellophane.

  39. Paper. Pay-yperr. Pay-purr. The bond is strong.

  40. I prefer print, but I like trees.

  41. I finally caved and bought a Kindle. I love it almost as much as I love chocolate. Plus, if you buy a leather cover, it smells like an expensive book and feels like one, too. The biggest selling point for me was that you can change the font to really big, which helps a lot when you hit seven decades, which I will do in three days. The kindle was an early happy birthday to me present.

  42. I prefer my books in codices, which can be read by the light of the sun if all other fires go out.

    But over the past few years I’ve read a fair number of works on-line, including the 18-volume Cambridge History of English and American Literature which I would not have wanted to lug around, and the Valmiki Ramayana which just seems to go on and on, volume after volume, in a fruitless quest for an editor who won’t exist until it’s centuries too late, and I gotta say, reading on the screen has its attractions, a certain convenience being one of them. I can read classic works that my local library doesn’t carry and I don’t have to buy. I could be Kindled or Nooked in future without much protest.

    But but but… I write and read these words in electrons while sitting in a room filled with codices. I know which I would choose if I had to choose one or the other.

  43. I’m bi. I have a kindle and an IPad, I’ve also been known to read books off my Kindle shelf from my IPhone–like the time I was at the DMV for three hours with physical book in sight. For me having a digital book shelf that syncs between all these devices means I can read a ton of books whenever and wherever even when I didn’t think, or remember, to bring a one. Also, when I travel, digital all the way.

    BUT, I still buy lots of print books. I still love print books, to touch, to see on my shelf ten years after I’ve read them. I love the way print books remind me of a time in my life.

    I do both and love the flexibility of choice.

  44. Kindle app on my iPad 90% of the time. I love the free taste of the first chapters feature. A book now and then is a very special treat, and especially nice to share.

  45. Paper books, without that stupid fucking deckled edge.

    I’m traveling for 4 days and have 6 books with me. I like their burden.

  46. My lifeless body will be found under a mountain of books, unless the kids send Hoarders to my door first. In that case I’ll be the cranky bag yelling at those trying to divest me of my treasure. They’re called books! People used to read them!

  47. Book. And then I can put it on my bookshelf and remember how it made me feel every time I walk past it’s pretty spine.

  48. (killing me that I just used a misplaced apostrophe. gah.)

    • I do that all the time with it’s and its, whatever comes out first slips out before my mind and eyes can stop it. I just have to hope I catch it in the edit. Same with there their they’re.

  49. I prefer books but have a kindle for holidays and long queues. On a recent flight back to Canada, I was pretty pissed off when I was told by the perky flight attendant that I had to turn it off at take off and landing. Nobody tells me when to stop reading.

    • Yes. My Nook is reserved solely for traveling. Or for emergencies when I must read a particular book RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT OR I WILL DIE.

      But so far I’ve only suffered two of those near-death experiences. Otherwise I continue to shuffle off to the bookstore, where I end up buying that particular book and another three or four.

      However, all my editing is done on hard copies. Not sure I could effectively do it any other way.

  50. Paper books all the way, all the time.

    But I suspect if I were an agent or editor constantly reviewing manuscripts, I might want to read those manuscripts on my (currently non-existent) ereader to save myself a lot of hassle.

  51. iPad for instant gratification (I want that book now, right now!), portable library (download classics for free!) and digital interactivity: search for elusive passages, listen to David Sedaris’ New Yorker podcast, keep up with babies yanking on your pant leg, see others’ highlights. Or turn it all off, slip iPad and wireless keyboard into a backpack, climb to the top of a mountain and write.

  52. Paper. Change is inevitable and we’ve progressed from the spoken word to handprinted books to set type to electronic. What’s next? Text printed on the inside of contact lenses seems to be coming on strong. Maybe an implanted microchip so you can just think the book instead of having to read it? When all is said and done, spoken word for the communal experience, paper books for intimacy.

  53. Books. Back breaking, breathtaking, binded, bedazzling books.
    Kindles don’t smell right.

  54. Paper. The brain takes information in differently in different formats. I sometimes read the New York Times online, but it doesn’t seem to register with as much force, and I hate losing context and perspective when one screen’s worth is all that is offered to me at a time.

    How can anyone willingly give up that bittersweet exhilaration of holding between your fingers the last page of a book you have loved, knowing you have both physically and emotionally come to the end? And experienced it in a typeface and on paper stock and beneath a cover that design and production professionals have selected as the way to present it to you?

    Does anyone cry and linger over an illuminated box when its pixels move them? Convenience sometimes comes at way too high a price.

  55. Paper.

    P.S. This post was full of lines that cracked me up.

  56. I prefer books. Yes, kindles may be practical, but books and reading aren’t only about practicality. They are also about aesthetics. I love the tactile feel of holding books, of inside jackets, back photos, their weight, size, colour. I love the look of a multi-colored stack of books on the floor, on a windowsill, the full bookshelf. Writing may be about the words and ideas, the emotions, but reading is also about the object I am holding in my hand.

  57. paper. i’m grieving over lost browsing opportunities. they closed my indie record store, the video store is gone, and the only thing i’ve got left are bookstores and they’re struggling. these dens of sanity are/were places of where wandering is/was the journey. god, i miss browsing.

  58. As I recall, you’ve been flirting with making this leap for quite awhile so maybe it’s time. Really, it’s not ‘either/or’ re. books – more like an ‘also’. Book lovers don’t give up their books and it’s not that we love them any less – it’s just another way to read sometimes.

    A vote for Nook: help keep the only remaining behemoth brick & mortar bookstore open (I get to keep my job) rather than support the scary cyber shopping mall of Amazon. Also, the Nook is a better product with access to double the number of titles.

    • I agree that new single purpose little black Nook is a great product. Better than Kindles which still seem like Chatty Cathy to me with their pull-cord clumsy.

      I love my iPad.

  59. I just recently was gifted a kindle. I read for pleasure mostly in bed prior to sleeping or while I’m waiting for something or someone or whatever somewhere. Gotta say it is superior to printed books in most respects. Sure, I love the jacket designs (which I always strip off when I start reading and only replace after and place on my bookshelf). But a kindle is compact, light and goes anywhere. I think a time will come when I’ll be totally comfortable with the little machine and wonder what took me so long.

  60. Books. But if I had a long commute, I’d be tempted by the Kindle.

    Late 1980s, my boyfriend at the time told me we’d soon be reading books digitally on hand-held devices. When I reacted with horror, he said, Don’t worry, people like you will always be able to afford books.

    So far he’s been right.

  61. Words my eyes can see. Not audio. I only “keep” a book that is a beautiful object. The rest get passed along. I LOVE my Kindle but cannot say I prefer it to bound books.

  62. I get naked in bed with books. I keep my clothes on when it comes to digital downloads.

  63. Kindle. I like convenience and instant gratification. It’s increased my impulse book buying tenfold.

  64. In general, wood pulp wins out. But e-readers have their uses. Very large books, for example, are far more manageable on a Kindle/Nook/etc. – if not for the Kindle, I may never have finished Infinite Jest. Also, it’s nice to have access to a decent swath of public domain classics for free.

  65. Give me paper anytime. I’ve seen people standing in outdoor pools, reading on a Kindle or Nook or whatever — and it is so tempting to splash them. If a paper/hard copy book falls into the water, it will just dry out and still be readable. When they make a Kindle or Nook that you can drop in the water and still have it work, maybe I’ll consider it. Maybe. If I didn’t have a 21-foot floor-to-ceiling full bookcase, I would never go for the electronics. It’s bad enough to read short articles on screen. But a book? Not going to happen around here.

    And passwords? NIghtmare guesses on my part. I try to minimize the number of passwords I am required to know, and if the computer wants to remember them for me, I’m all in favor of letting it take over the part of my brain that wants every password to be “fuck off.”

  66. Three hundred palpable pages of paper resting between a monogrammed hard cover with a kick-ass dust jacket.

  67. Someone at work yesterday had a Sony reader and I was looking at it and thought maybe my resolve was weakening. He was explaining how he has thousands of books on it and I was thinking how handy that would be because I have a couple of long trips coming up next year and I would never be short of something to read if I had one.

    But then he bragged about how he didn’t pay for a single book on there, that he downloaded them all illegally. And then I remembered why I am so full of angst about the whole situation.

  68. News on the Ipad. Everything else on paper. But I am looking to eliminate all paper, especially when I travel for work, because I end up carrying super heavy bags of lots and lots of paper.

  69. Paper books. No substitute.

  70. Kindle.
    I will always love books. The smell, the tactile sensation of the pages beneath my fingers…

    .. but I can carry a whole library around on my Kindle, read for 48 hours straight on one charge, and because of the digital ink (no backlighting!) it honest-to-gosh feels like reading a book. Were it not for how light the darn thing is, I’d forget I wasn’t reading a paperback.

  71. Also have to add… the impulse book-buying ability is definitely a good thing for the industry.

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