I recently slammed the media marketing of e-readers and the devices' coercion of readers to impulse-shop and web-surf. More multi-tasking. E-books that check e-mail. The wolf pack of Kindles, Nooks, iPads, Kobos, and Sony Readers seduce us with e-ink screens, touch screens, social networking, color, battery life, and Wifi.
"Do I have Wifi?" I asked doubtfully at a large warehouse appliance store this week.
The young man said he would look it up, but was I committed to the Sony? Because it was expensive.
"I can't have a Kindle," I said. Amazon already owns me. I can't add addiction to buying e-books in addition to my other Amazon vices.
"Well, the Nook can do everything the Sony does only better and cheaper."
I could go to a Nook party! Do they have Kindle parties? Sony parties?
The young man quickly showed me the features. He explained how the low-end model can only be used with the Wifi at home while the next up can be used everywhere.
That didn't floor me.
"I mainly read at home."
"Some people like to check their e-mail while they're out."
Isn't that what computers are for?
So I bought a Nook, brought it home, and spent a few hours with it last night. The thrilling thing is that I don't need the Nook's Wifi for what I do. I can download books from manybooks.net and other free sites and transfer them via USB. I don't need to go to B&N online. I can use the Nook like my old Sony.
But as a person who enjoys "keyboarding" on a computer, I am irritated by the poor typing capacities of the Nook. (This question didn't come up at all with my old Sony because it doesn't have a keyboard.) How can anyone bear to type on the touch pad? It's like one of those nightmares I used to have where there's an emergency and I can't dial the right numbers on the telephone. My fingers can't hit the tiny letters and deleting is a pain.
So I'm not using it.
I should be more worried about privacy issues. According to NPR, most e-readers have antennae that transmit information back to the manufacturer about what you read. They also have geo-location technology that can tell where you read. I really, really hate the sound of that. It's hopeless, though, because enormous amounts of data are recorded about us everywhere we shop.
Anyway, it's here. It's in the drawer. I don't really feel excited about it. But I can read on it when I need to.