Friday, November 01, 2013

Filipino Fridays #4 Digital Reading: A Short History Starting 2011

It's Filipino Friday again! Here's this week's question: Do you read (or have at least tried to read) books in other formats aside from print? How was your experience with these different book formats?

Answer: Absolutely! My very first digital book was George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons. I discovered Game of Thrones only in 2011 and I was addicted to the Game of Thrones books, devouring them as quickly as I bought them. And when I got to his last book it was always out of stock. After trying three stores, I gave up. And then a friend of mine suggested that I just buy the e-book. The what? At that time, I had not capitulated to tablets yet. But where would I read it? On my computer, apparently! But that would be too tiresome! I thought about it for maybe five minutes (I was that addicted to GOT) and then I bought it. This was on July 23, 2011. I know this fact because I can check my account on Amazon and see exactly when I bought a book. There was no turning back after that.

My next purchase was The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft. What an absolute treat! I read Lovecraft so late in life. But better late than never. I adore his stories! In between A Dance with Dragons and The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, I had acquired an iPad 2. It was a grief purchase (it's the perfect way I can describe it) after Steve Jobs had died. On that very iPad, I read Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs. In Jobs' honor, I downloaded the free e-book, Autobiography of a Yogi (I still haven't finished that book, though). By this time, I was very comfortable with e-books already. In fact, for one of my book club choices, I decided on an e-book version of The Silver Linings Playbook (this time on the Kobo reader).

A year later, I got an iPad mini for myself and I turned over the iPad 2 to the kids (creating a different kind of learning revolution for the kids as well -- that's a different post altogether). I'm a certified e-book reader already.

BUT.... Let me just qualify that I am a physical book lover and I just can't take it out of my system. Maybe because I'm a digital immigrant, having crossed that threshold between analog and digital within my lifetime (I can't say the same thing for my kids).

Let me use a demonstration of this. I got an e-book version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows but for some reason I didn't start on it. I read a few pages from the first chapter and then never progressed from there. I was perfectly aware that it was a charming book. But for some reason, I didn't feel the charm in the e-book. Several months later, I was at a secondhand book shop and I saw the paperback version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I bought it immediately. And then the romance with the book started. I was so in love with it that I saved it (like eating cake a little at a time and then storing it in the freezer to be taken out and re-heated again). I couldn't bear to read it too fast. It was that kind of novel. I realized, then, that I'm still a physical book kind of girl after all. It doesn't stop me from buying e-books, though.

There was a time that I was giving away my physical books left and right (donating them to libraries -- a big batch went to the Jesuit Volunteers of the Philippines -- and then another big batch went to a friend for a library he was building for a school in the province). I said that I would be reading e-books from then on. But, no. That was not the case. I didn't exclusively read e-books after that. I still ended up buying physical books, anyway. Which made my husband shake his head: "What was the point of giving away those books when you'd stock up more books to take their place?" Hmmm. Bookworm is a bookworm.

Also, a word about children's books. We have a lot of physical children's books at home. I like the idea of having my kids touch books and physically flip the pages. I make sure we spend time reading analog books. One of my favorite activities is taking them to a secondhand book shop and letting them choose whatever book they want.

BUT...I also read e-books to them. One of my favorite children's books is Playtime With Monster by Michael Yu. It was a free e-book but it was much appreciated by my son and I. It's so sulit because now my youngest is enjoying the book that her kuya very much enjoyed before her. I made sure to leave a positive review for the book because I owe that much to the author for making such a lovely book free. Another e-book that I actually bought to read with my son is Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman. It has all my son's favorite stuff in it (from pirates and aliens to dinosaurs and sharks and piranhas). We read it together and he still remembers all the little details that I thought he would forget.

So that was the long answer to the question. Haha! I love reading. So, reading in digital is something I can get comfortable with. It helps in terms of not having to lug around a lot of physical books. Also, when I'm impatient, I go for the digital version so I don't have to line up for it (or worse, encounter the problem of no stocks). There are books that are also out of print and aren't readily available in bookstores. I got a copy of Stephen King's On Writing in e-book format simply because I knew that I wouldn't be able to get a copy of it in local bookstores anymore. But I am still a physical-books-analog girl. There's nothing like holding and smelling a book. :-)

In sum, I just keep reading. And I hope my kids catch the bug permanently. They are already digital and analog readers as well. Here's to more readers!

If you love to read, come to the Filipino ReaderCon this coming November 9 (Saturday) at the Ateneo de Manila Rizal Library. It's going to be very fun! The theme is What Do Readers Want? So, that will be very interesting.

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