Monday, March 7, 2011

First Monday With Robyn: Convenience is not always King

By Robyn Gioia
Ebooks are not created equal, and convenience is not necessarily king.

I must state up front that I really love owning an ebook reader. And one of the reasons is the convenience. My ebook reader slips easily into my purse. It hardly weighs anything, and it’s there anytime I want to read. Want to read while taking a trip? No problem. Take a whole series with you. Or download some manuscripts to read on the go? The eReader can do that too. I haven’t actually figured out the downloading part yet, but a fellow Kindle user says she does it all the time. Seems I have an Amazon email account that accepts documents (word and PDF) and it’s zinged into the Kindle through the wireless connection from there.

My students and I decided to read Tom Sawyer for our literature pick this month. Earlier in the year, I asked my students if their parents had eReaders. At the time, they didn’t know what I was talking about. Then a handful came back after Christmas and said they got one for a present. So when I assigned Tom Sawyer as the next literature book, several of them downloaded it to their eReaders. I too, downloaded it to my own Kindle for a reasonable 99¢.

I learned two things as a teacher that day. It’s wonderful having a dictionary at my beck and call (the eReader gives definitions) because Samuel Longhorne Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, uses a rich vocabulary; something my bright students need. The down side is I found it awkward trying to flip back and forth to do my work as a teacher. I reread passages; compare them to events, and sticky note vocabulary words and literary elements. In other words, I have to move in and out of the pages with ease, and the ebook version is too cumbersome for what I need. I quickly bailed for a book. To tell the truth, I will actually end up using both versions because the ebook version has highlighted passages that are perfect for Socratic questionings. I wonder how many others are using both versions at the same time.

Then I did something later that every publisher WANTS to hear. I came across an enticing book review when reading the USA Today this week. My Kindle was sitting on the counter next to me, so I reached across, turned on the wireless and downloaded my new book all within two minutes. How is that for speed shopping? I haven’t had the time to start reading my new book, but it pops up everytime I open my Kindle so it won’t get lost in a pile somewhere.

My last comment has to do with the quality of ebooks out there. Normally I purchase books because of the reviews or recommendations. But a FB friend posted her new ebook online for all to see and I was instantly hooked by the really clever book jacket and enticing blub. And because I didn’t feel like I would be losing too much by spending $3.99, I bought it. The protagonist was a lot more edgy than I like, but the author could write and the story was entertaining. Then something happened that screamed “self-published.” About four-fifths of the way through, it morphed from realistic fiction into fantasy. And it didn’t stop there. The last chapter became a detailed step-by-step scene straight out of a romance novel. Hopefully publishers will survive the tsunami of ebooks taking over because someone still needs to whip a good book into shape.

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Robyn is the author of, America’s REAL First Thanksgiving, St. Augustine, Florida, September 8, 1565. She is currently tweaking her middle-grade novel, The Ghost, The Rat and Me, for an ebook publisher.


  1. I am not a good reader or you can say i am not a regular reader, but i always in a touch with people who are the regular reader so when ever there some thing good stuff come in market and if they recommend it i read them. I must say its really a good post a lot of readers like me who are not regular will find it interesting for their selves.

  2. I just received a nook color from my parents. I’m looking forward to reading books at a touch of a screen. Your article is making me think twice before I download someone that is unknown or not recommended by a trusted friend. But I am looking forward to reading the classics and those that I know. It's nice to have some insight on the ereaders.


  3. I took Robyn to heart and purchased a Kindle and am getting adjusted to it. One thing I did was to download some of the free Kindle books so I could get the “feel” of how everything worked. I read Stephen Brayton’s book and am starting to feel comfortable with it.