The Star-News


Books are fine, but e-books are divine

Sat, Jul 21 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

It seems that I have somewhat given up and succumbed to the customs of the masses when it comes to self-education. For as long as I can remember I have been a champion of the public libraries and small, bookstores, lauding their efforts in helping to educate the masses. Now, however, I find that I am leaning more to those modern things that technology has thrust upon us deserting those philosophies and customs that we, at one time, thought we would keep for a lifetime.  An example might be my Kindle.

About a year or so ago my daughter-in-law, Terri, gave me a Kindle.  She, like the rest of my family, has always been a compulsive reader, devouring the printed word in most forms, particularly in books. Knowing that I had similar leanings she thought she would enhance my tastes along those lines with the device. And she was right. As of this date I have downloaded more than 50 books that have kept me in steady reading for a year.

I could, of course, blame it on the fellows in the technological field. They make things kind of easy. The Kindle has a menu section where one may select any type of book, in any subject matter, for a fraction of the price that one would spend for the hard copy.  An example would be a New York Times selection that might cost someone $29.99 if purchased traditionally  or  $9.99 if downloaded.  Thus, in the space of a few minutes one can commence reading that best seller that is getting all those rave reviews.

Kindle is only one of a number of similar products.  The Kindle will only download your book and allow you to read it. There is nothing else it will do.  There are other later products out there that will do most anything short of washing your dishes. I have little use for any of those. It took me a month of Sundays to learn how to use my computer. I do not want to muddle my already saturated brain with seemingly innocuous data.

I do not mean to imply that I have given up reading hard copy.  The habits of many decades would be hard to break.  I have a rather extensive collection of books ranging from paperback novels to tomes of higher learning.  I also have a many-year collection of National Geographics.  It is the latter that helps keep my three kids in tow.  If any of them displeases me in any way I have threatened to leave the entire collection to them in my will. That’ll teach them.
A couple of weeks back I ran across an old friend, Joe Contreras.  He is one person who is still connected with a bookstore.  He is prominent with the bookstore on Orange Avenue in Coronado.  I have been in that establishment a number of times in the past and have even bought a few volumes from them. It is one of the survivors of an apparently dying breed. There was a time when we could find them all around. The big chains, however, came along and sounded the death knell for most of them.  Today they are as scarce as the milk delivery man.

I know of one other village bookstore in the county, this one in Julian.  On my infrequent visits to that part of the county I never fail to visit the store and look around for that one gem, for which we have been searching.

On one of those visits I picked up an enjoyable little booklet titled “It Happened in Southern California” by author, Noelle Sullivan.  It chronicles a number of incidents spaced over a 300 year period that makes Southern California the unique place that it is.  I reread this book from time to time simply because it has interesting bits of California history.  The fact that my Kindle’s battery is running low has nothing to do with it.


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