Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
–Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
However, as much as I love reading, I loathe e-books.
I could have served as the model for the female physical book-loving character in the Amazon Kindle commercials because I believe all the things she does.
I love the feel of a book in my hand. I love being able to dog-ear a page. I own bookmarks just so that I can put them in books. I love having a physical library where I can look at the spines of books. I love that “new book” smell. I love being able to write notes in the margins in my own handwriting…and then come back to them years later and wonder what the hell was I thinking (both my copies of Democracy in America and The Prince are filled with what I thought was wisdom when I was twenty).
My wife bought a Nook and it was like bringing home garlic to your vampire spouse. She enjoys the portability of the e-book and the vast library of free material and I thought it was a lovely doorstop.
I have treated this device like a turd at Thanksgiving dinner. I have shunned it and done my best to avoid it. I vowed to win the battle against this thing that, to use Adams’s words, “went against the natural order of things.”
Last month, my oldest son, Christopher, was having an issue at school. His English class was requiring him to read a book every two weeks and write a book report on what he had read. However, in our haste to move, we did not pack enough appropriate reading material for him. So, my wife suggested we use the Nook and for him, I downloaded all five Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams. I now have my oldest son hooked on the misadventures of Arthur Dent and 42.
Like an infection, once I touched the e-reader, its tendrils took hold of me and began to sing its temptations. I resisted this e-vixen body and soul until I lost a few days ago.
While reading his blog and Twitter feed (@wilw), I discovered that Wil Wheaton had written a book about his time as an actor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Entitled Memories of the Future: Volume 1, it is billed as an insider’s look into the first half of the first season of ST:TNG.
I was a fan of ST:TNG when it first came out my freshman year in college. This show was appointment television for me and some of my friends as we would hijack our dorm’s lobby and take over the TV so we could watch the further adventures of the starship Enterprise.
There is no doubt about it, the first season was corny. From the pajama-like Starfleet outfits, to Troi’s cheerleader uniform, to the plots having to reach back to the original series for ideas (I’m looking at you “The Naked Now”), and even to the music, this series screamed “cheesy” and “cancellation”.
Thankfully, just like the man who was turned into a newt in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the series got better.
I am looking forward to reading Mr. Wheaton’s comments about that first season because, curses be upon him, his book was only available to me in electronic form. I have bitten the bullet and drank the Kool-Aid as the first e-book I now own comes from the hand of Wil Wheaton.
DECEMBER 1, 2011 UPDATE:
I see, courtesy of TechCrunch, that I am not the only one to reluctantly come around to e-books. I like it when I am on the same side as a giant in the field.