Such an iPhone Guy

December 10, 2012

By Louis Borgenicht

I am definitely not a techno-freak but I admit being seduced over the years by PC’s and most recently Apple products. The conversion from years of non-Mac computers was not difficult.

“Macs are intuitive,” my middle aged kids assured me.

So a few years I bought a freestanding gMac, followed by a portable MacBook Air, and a first generation iPad (currently used by my wife to look up recipes or to Google something during a dinner conversation). Oh yes, both of us own iPhones. It took me a year of frustrating Droidness before I broke down and got one.

I like them all. And until I broke down and bought my iPhone, I suffered the pangs slung by friends about my techno-logic stupidity.

“Lou you are such an iPhone guy,” they insisted over lunch as I tried to open an app on my Droid.

And on recent trip to France I became convinced—I was one lucky son-of-a-bitch. Walking on the beach in St. Malo, I listened to my iTunes: the latest album I had downloaded by a French harmonica player, Gregoire Maret. Back at the terasse of our B & B, I collected my e-mail and responded to people halfway around the world, read the online version of the Salt Lake Tribune and The New York Times, checked out the weather in Kamas, heard the latest joke from Old Jews Telling Jokes and marveled how I could do so much from the Apple device.

On my return to Salt Lake I was confronted by another technological dilemma. David, my son the publisher, had three reading devices in his house : a Nook, a Kindle, and his most recent purchase, a Kobo. The Kings English, our favorite independent book store in SLC had started selling the latter exclusively.

During one of my weekly visits to the store, I looked at the device unconvinced. But the seed had been planted. I asked Dave to tell me a reason I should think about buying a Kobo. I love the aesthetic of holding a book in my hand and saw myself as a pariah if I converted to a reader.

“Dad, you know there are books you read that you will never read again and just sit on your shelves until you donate them to the library,” David said.

“Yes,” I realized. “I guess it is an ecologic issue. That makes sense.”

The next day I went to The Kings English and bought a Kobo. I didn’t feel sheepish or embarrassed; I knew I was being environmentally responsible.

I downloaded my first book: The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton. Now I just have to find time to read it.

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in digital reading–or want an e-reader for the techie on your list–we hope you’ll stop by to test-drive a Kobo for yourself. You can even order them from us online. The best part? Sign up for Kobo using this link and we’ll earn a portion of every e-book you buy from Kobo for years to come. Without buying a device at all, you can also download a free Kobo app for iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Nook, and Sony Reader. Learn how here. If you’re ready to give it a try, download the appropriate app here.

Evolution of a literary distraction

February 13, 2012

by Louis Borgenicht

Since the advent of the Internet my reading habits have dramatically changed.

Truth to tell I never learned the proper lessons from childhood: my mother was a voracious reader consuming several books in a day. As a youth I recall wallowing in Nancy Drew mysteries and the historical novels of Geoffrey Trease and would actually sit for lengths of time in bed before falling asleep.

Trease was a British writer of 113 books; the Nancy Drew mysteries were written by a variety of authors under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene, a fact I recently learned from  Wikipedia. But the lessons learned in childhood did not last long; I rarely read for extended periods of time.

Readers of this blog have learned about my New Yorker angst, long ago making my peace with being behind.

Similarly, I have had problems with the Sunday New York Times. The drive to read it on the day it is tossed unceremoniously onto my snowless driveway is just not there. Years ago, when I lived in New York City, I would make a special effort to read the news of the week in Review immediately feeling I had to get the heady stuff out of the way first. If I waited until the end of the week to read it I would likely not.

Now I have become more lackadaisical. I glance at the front section, peruse the Arts section mainly to see if some spectacular television offering is coming up, and then relegate the business, sports, and travel section (unless there is an article on some destination we hope to visit) to the recycle bin. Living in SLC there is no urgency in getting through the Times at one sitting; years ago living in NYC there was a hip pleasure buying the Sunday Times on Saturday night along with fresh real bagels,
going to bed shortly after midnight, and awakening leisurely on Sunday morning knowing I had everything I needed.

The Internet has exacerbated my tendency to literary distraction. Emails were the first step. There are decisional issues: you read an email and have to decide whether to erase it immediately or retain it for future reference. This is particularly true if a friend sends you something with the subject “FYI or I thought you might like this.” You can open the attachment, give it a quick glance and file it somewhere for future reference.

That is the problem: future reference. It feeds into possibility and hope. Will I read it? If so when? Where will I find it if I finally decide to read it?

Unless you are incredibly disciplined you will forget about it, discovering days or months later when you accidentally open a file you did not know existed. The moment of truth arrives as your guilt wells: read it or delete it sight unseen.

This short-order reading has affected my dealing with real books. I rarely take the time to sit down for upwards of half an hour in a comfortable chair and just read. It would be lovely to do so, meditative even. But my brain has been programmed for distraction.

Even at night I am only able to read for five minutes before falling asleep. It is clearly the fault of the computer. I have often thought that Apple should give every new customer a prescription of Ritalin with each new computer to minimize attention deficit.

Only then might I get back to the good old days of my youth.

The Invention of the E-Bookseller

February 22, 2011

by Rachel Haisley

I’m a bookseller. Even my job title explains it. I sell books. Those collections of pages bound between slightly thicker pages? Yep. I think they’re awesome and my goal in life is to convince you of the same. That’s pretty much my day in a nutshell.

Life, of course, is never that easy. There must always be some new variable thrown in, at least every once in a while, just to keep me on my toes. This time it was the day TKE started selling e-books and customers started expecting me to actually know what these newfangled e-readers are. All the kids are talking about them these days. Apparently.

Challenge accepted. I got down to business, grabbed on my Harriet the Spy glasses and notebook and commenced research. When I caught anyone e-reading in waiting rooms, on airplanes, in class or on the bus, I asked them a series of basic questions. What is that shiny new thing you are holding? Is it like a book? How? Do you like it? Why or why not? How does it work? Have you ever broken it? Does it make a good coaster? And so it went. Everyone was more than happy to show off their new gadgets to me, and I began to not only discover what was going on, but I actually started to understand the pros and cons of different e-readers. The iPad emerged as a fast favorite. Its resolution was awesome, pages turned instantaneously, it could read books from nearly all e-book providers (especially Google Books, which has the largest available e-library) and it could do other things. Except it was prohibitively expensive. The Kindle was small and inexpensive, but the resolution on it reminded me of a classier version of DOS, it had a lot of buttons that seemed unnecessary and could only read e-books purchased off Amazon (which is really, really lame). The Nook seemed to be the better choice, mostly because of the price and its compatibility with Google Books (and the resolution was much nicer), but the pages took literally forever to turn. The woman next to me on a flight from Atlanta told me, “I could read a whole page in the time it takes each one to load.” One man complained about dropping his color Kindle in the pool ($300!), and I smugly remembered when I did that with a paperback and just needed to leave it over the heater for a few hours.

I decided I didn’t need an e-reader. Probably not for a long time. Even though some of them looked pretty cool, they were way out of the budget.

Then, Verizon introduced the iPhone 4 and, coincidentally, it was time for my upgrade. Suddenly, I was one of them. I bought Emma and started reading it on the small screen of my phone, prepared to totally hate the e-reading experience, but I didn’t. I actually kind of liked it. The screen didn’t feel that small once I got into the book and the pages turned with a flick of my index finger. After staying up all night e-reading (which I didn’t need to turn on my bedside light to do), I was hooked. I have my Google Books account that holds my entire e-library which I can access anywhere in the world, from any computer, iPhone, iPad, Nook, or BlackBerry. (The trick is remembering my password.) Because TKE uses Google Books, any e-book you buy from us automatically syncs up with your Google account. It’s pretty spiffy.

But here’s the deal: e-reading is not a black and white experience (pun intended): you don’t have to stop buying real books just because you can read some of them on your Nook. The paper book isn’t going anywhere for now and e-readers are fun, cool, new gadgets to explore and learn about. HOWEVER. The concept of an e-reader can really distance us from the fundamental concepts of the book. It’s really important not to lose sight of all that makes them breathe. When holding a hardback, it’s easy to visualize all the people that brought this experience to you: it’s kind of like standing in line at the farmers’ market. You can see the writer, the editor, the manufacturer, the people shipping crates of books across continents, me telling you to buy this book or so help me gawd, and the friend you’re going to give it to.

The e-reader takes a lot of that out. All of a sudden my copy of Emma isn’t the dogeared copy my grandmother bought for me. It’s just words on a screen. Granted, they’re exactly the same as the ones in my paperback copy, but they don’t feel as concrete. They feel flighty. When my battery dies, they die.

We all know how buying books and e-books off Amazon takes money out of our local economy. A growing fear among booksellers is losing this job we love. Buying sustainably is like eating sustainably. If you do it, the land around you will flourish. If not, you may save money in the short run, while others lose it for the long term.

Everyone at TKE is proud to learn about and sell e-books. We can even show you how to use them. We want to encourage everyone interested in becoming an e-reader to purchase a device that is compatible with Google Books so you can get your e-books from our website. That way, no one gets left behind. We always want to be here; matching books to our readers in whatever format those books may be.