Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

Way back in 2010, a young college sophomore version of myself began taking 400 level Literature courses. I got my first booklist for ENGL 420 – “Wilderness Literature” and was shocked when I learned I needed nine novels for the course. And that was just one course. Thus marks the beginning of my interest in eReaders.

This week’s poll on The Daily Post asks whether you prefer eReaders and eBooks to the good-ole fashioned print version, a topic I’ve discussed many times (here, here, and here for starters!).

Since the good people of WordPress were kind enough to link to my blog on their site, I’m going to take their challenge and respond to this poll. As you know, if you’re a regular around here, I’ve gone paperless this semester and bought all my textbooks as eBooks, so I’m not going to talk about it from a textbook point of view.

I begged my parents for Barnes & Noble‘s Nook, and since they love me and wanted to get me an awesome birthday gift because I was away at college, they caved and got me the Nook Color in 2010. So now instead of hauling textbooks and four or five novels around the metropolis that is Penn State’s main campus, I could contain those novels in one little device. The best part? Most of the novels I was studying were in the public domain, so the digital versions were FREE.

The educational benefits were the hook I used to get my parents into the idea of buying me the $300 device, but I wasn’t about to relegate my eBook consumption to pre-1900s American literature. I have to admit, the number one pro to having an eReader is that you can buy books and read them instantly, and for a digital native like myself, instant gratification goes a long way.

For example, when I wanted to read Catching Fire immediately after finishing The Hunger Games, I couldn’t stand to wait until the next day to go to the bookstore. I whipped out my Nook and BOOM! I was off and reading once again. Love it.

However, I can still get lost in Barnes & Noble. I still love roving the library stacks for the next great find – because there’s nothing better than an interesting spine that calls to you from the top shelf, catching your eye because of the perfect color combination, font style, or clever title. I still love carrying a physical book when I go to substitute teach – I don’t have to worry about my Nook getting swiped, and there’s just something about other people seeing me engrossed in a physical, paper-bound book that makes me feel different from the tablet-toting consumer of pixels and electricity.

My conclusion to the poll is this: A true lover of words cannot choose between physical and eBook. eBooks offer the instant gratification of reading the next book in the series, the self-published e-author’s first work before they got famous, or the steamy romance novel with the racy cover that you wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead reading in public. Physical books, for a true lover of words, are just too near and dear to our hearts to ever let go of completely. Readers of paper-bound books don’t need to constantly worry about where the nearest electricity-producing outlet is. A physical tome can be passed down from generation to generation with ease. Holding a novel is like holding a part of the author – expressed not only in the words, but in the paper weight and font choices.

Physical books and eBooks will live in not-always peaceful coexistance, and I don’t foresee the conclusion of that relationship until long after I’ve left this earth.

My Book-less Semester: Week 1

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week or so ago, I posted about how I purchased all my textbooks for my second semester of graduate school in eBook form. The main reason behind this decision? Money. The eBooks saved me around $50-70 this semester, which might not sound like a lot to the average working adult, but for me, that’s two weeks of groceries or a tank and a half of gas. The other reason is that my program, Instructional Technology, is about 70% online courses. My eBook purchases have now just combined 100% of my course materials onto my laptop.

The first week of school was pretty slow. Syllabus week proved to be just that: reading and posting that I’ve read the course syllabus, have my materials, yadda yadda. My first readings aren’t due until this week, but I did try to get a jump start on them this weekend.

My goodness, was it difficult! As I suspected in my last post, it took just about everything in me to get through the reading without checking my Facebook newsfeed, or scrolling through my endless Tumblr dashboard (curse you, Tumblr, for endless scrolling!), or to keep out of TweetDeck.

My first reading wasn’t bad. I got through it and then thought, “Oh, I’ll just reward myself for that with a little social media.” Two hours later, when I had wanted to accomplish all my reading over the weekend, I was still busy on Pinterest, my newest obsession (read about my newfound relationship with Pinterest here), pinning wedding reception photos, which is extra pathetic because I don’t even have a significant other (my cousin is getting married in June though, so that’s how I justify this behavior).

Once I got a hold of myself, I closed my applications and got back to work on my second reading, which was a particularly dry introduction to Web 2.0 technologies. I know, it was like fate was intervening here. Part of the assignment for the reading was to visit the sites mentioned in the text, and granted, they were education related, but all it took was the opening of a new browser session and I was off task again.

Needless to say, I did not finish my readings on Saturday. Sunday was a complete loss, what with the Super Bowl being on and my incessant need to partake in tweeting about commercials, the 49er’s awful first half, and of course, the highlight of the night, when the power went out at the Super Dome. There was no way any reading was getting done.

On the plus side, my eyes didn’t bother me from looking at the screen! Hopefully tonight after work I will have better luck settling myself down to get the readings for my other two classes out of the way. I’m thinking that with practice and discipline, perhaps I can work up to the ability to do all the reading without getting distracted.

Also, mega thanks to WordPress’s The Daily Post for linking to my blog post about going paperless and reminding me to post my update about it!

Join in the conversation! Is anyone else going paperless this semester?

Going Paperless this Semester

Barnes & Noble nook (ebook reader device)

Barnes & Noble nook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Sunday! Hope it’s been relaxing for you all. I am preparing to go back to school and back to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited for a couple reasons. First, I am a huge dork and love school, and my job at the library is totally boss.

But secondly, I’m going paperless this semester and have purchased all my textbooks in eBook formats!

I can’t say this was a conscious decision from the start. As a grad student still in WAY over my head in debt from my undergrad, I’m always looking to get away on the cheap. And actually, the eBook versions of my textbooks were WAY cheaper than the physical printed books, something that’s not always the case with fiction titles. According to my math, I probably saved myself about $50 on the four books I needed this semester.

I also went with whoever had the version of the book cheaper – and I have to say that although I love my Nook and Barnes & Noble has a special place in my heart, Amazon’s Kindle book prices were better for three out of the four. So I’ll be learning to use the Kindle for Mac software too this semester!

I’m excited to see how this goes. I’ve never bought an e-textbook before. In the cases where I did purchase my books for class, I always had physical pages to write on, highlight, dog-ear, and in some cases, resell at the end of the class. But it makes sense. I’m studying instructional technology and integration of digital media in education, so eBooks for my textbooks make sense in a way.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. I’m nervous that the eBooks will be difficult for me to actually complete my readings. Whenever I work on the computer, I tend to also be surfing the internet, reading Twitter feeds, checking Facebook, etc. I also occasionally get headaches from staring at the screen too long if it’s too bright.

But hey, at least I’m saving a couple bucks and it’ll be a great experience to talk about in seminar! Anyone else ever gone totally print-book-less for school or work? Any tips or suggestions?