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Sun Spots: In defense of the e-reader

Sun Spots: In defense of the e-reader

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Like Features Editor Seth Muller, who made such an eloquent plea for the printed page last Sunday, I'm a lover of books.

I love them so much that they litter every flat surface in my bedroom and office. And those are just the ones on my to-be-read pile.

I also have a bookcase crammed with beloved favorites. The Little House series. Harry Potter. A two-volume set of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Star Wars' Han Solo trilogy. A light, bright romantic comedy called "Dateless in Dallas." The 1996 novel by Samantha Carter certainly wasn't the first romance I picked up, but its subject -- a reporter (which I was) must pair up with a sportswriter (like the coworker I had a crush on at the time) to test out the advice in a hot new dating book everyone was talking about -- made it a keeper.

Stacks of books teeter precariously, waiting for my clumsiness -- or my cats -- to topple them. Still, I can't stop adding to my collection. What can I say? I'm a sucker for an intriguing cover blurb.

Clearly, clutter-busting isn't the reason I joined the ranks of e-reader owners. (It might turn into a nice side benefit someday, if I ever stop adding to my print collection.)

No, I requested an e-reader for Christmas in 2010 so I'd be able to buy my friends' e-books. Romance writers have embraced e-books, and I reasoned that someday I might end up e-published myself.

My initial reason for getting an e-reader might have been somewhat self-involved, but I'm a convert. I love my e-reader so much that I've downloaded the corresponding app on my phone, so I can have two books going at once.

Why do I love my e-reader? Let me count the ways:

1. Easy access. I carry my Nook -- and phone -- with me everywhere, so I can read anywhere, anytime. Sure, I could do the same thing with a book: tuck it in my purse and whip it out whenever the urge strikes. I often have. But the e-reader provides something a single print edition cannot.

2. Endless variety. With about 50 titles downloaded so far, I haven't even begun to reach my e-reader's storage limit. But it's nice to know that I can read anything -- anything at all. Romance dominates my collection, but I also have other options, like the Klingon Dictionary (downloaded for research, not because I'm a geek).

One of the first e-books I picked up was "The End of Overeating," a weighty nonfiction read about how the restaurant industry loads food with sugar, fat and salt, all flavors that entice us to eat way too much. (Spoiler alert: The book spends a lot of time detailing the problem, but never gives readers a concrete plan to do what the title says.)

3. Saved space. When I traveled to New York City last summer, my e-reader -- loaded with a bunch of reading material -- went on the plane with me. Having several books on one compact device eliminated the need to pack five or six tomes to keep me occupied during the flight. This not only lightened my bag but also freed up more luggage space for things like dresses and shoes.

4. Price. While the device itself wasn't cheap, there are a lot of low-cost books in cyberspace, available with a simple click. Many, like the newest Stephen King book I've been dying to read, are lower-priced than their print counterparts. There are even hundreds of titles priced at less than $2 and enough free books to keep me in reading material for months on end.

5. Privacy. The e-reader's display won't clue onlookers in on what I'm reading. I can be in the middle of a steamy scene without anyone being the wiser -- unless my blush gives me away. Think of the embarrassment it would have saved me in high school, when one of my guy friends had the uncanny ability to pick up any book I was reading and zero in on the racy parts.

As an added bonus, I can convert my own manuscript files to read on my Nook. It's a trip to see my work in the exact same format as published books.

That being said, a part of me still longs to see my book in print, on bookstore shelves alongside my favorite authors.

But if I end up e-pubbed instead, I'll be a proud part of the e-book revolution. E-books and e-readers are the future -- and the future is now.

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