Why I Don't Own an E Reader Device

There is little doubt anymore that the e-book has won its battle with its traditional paper counterpart. Let's face it; when was the last time you actually went to a book store? Even most local libraries now lend eBooks out on their websites. Although I still have several shelves full of 'real' books, and am quite happy to browse a box of books at a yard sale or flea market to help satisfy my passion for reading, I have to admit any new titles I buy these days are in electronic form. The one thing I have not succumbed to however is the temptation to spend $100+ on a dedicated e reader like a Kindle or a Nook.

Now that may sound strange coming from a self-confessed bookophile who will read the back of a cereal box five times in desperation if I have nothing else to read. Surely for someone like me an e reader would be a must. But I have found it is not, and I will explain why:

I own an iPhone

Thanks to the proliferation of excellent prepaid cell service plans and the falling calling of the various smartphone models it is becoming increasingly rare to come across someone who does not own, and use, a cellphone that can make great use of the various apps that are available. I personally own an iPhone 4s, not the latest model but I am not one to slavishly follow Apple's every upgrade, and I have found that it can do everything a Kindle or a Nook could in terms of satisfying my passion for reading and in many ways even more.

To begin with, there are iPhone/iPad and Android apps available for both Kindle and Nook functionalities and both of those offerings are free. You still have to pay for the books of course but it saves on the high cost of an ereader device. In addition there are also a number of other great apps that offer access to books you probably won't find on either of those mainstream platforms. Some of the best apps I have found include Stanza, Wattpad and Kobo and as they are all free to download I recommend that any smartphone owning book fan do so!

Finally, as I have my phone with me at all times why would I ever want to carry an extra gadget around with me just to read a few chapters of a great book on my already cramped train ride to work?

I Own a Laptop

Most of the same apps that available for a smartphone are also available for a PC or a Mac, something that allows me to turn my laptop into a mini library as well. In the case of a computer you can also download whatever random PDF format e book you might happen to find online and begin reading it right away, no special app required.

There are uses for ereaders. They are great for kids if you don't want to let them lose on a pricier option like an iPad. They can also be extremely useful to college students, provided they have professors who allow eBooks (which many do not at this time, unfortunately) And for those who are not very tech minded a device like the Amazon Kindle Fire may be all that they need. In fact ereaders are great, but they are just not the right choice for me.

Should Harry Potter Make a Comeback?

Like millions and millions of others, I hungrily devoured every single one of the Harry Potter books, even joining a couple of midnight release parties at Barnes and Noble to get my copy first (back in the days when we all read hardbacks and our libraries didn't live in a Kindle) But the last book in series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published seven years ago (yes, it's been that long) so the world of Hogwarts has essentially been gone for a while.

Then a few weeks ago JK Rowling wrote a brief piece for the Pottermore site's 'Quidditch World Cup' series and all of the Potter fanboys and fangirls, myself included to be honest, were delighted to get a quick glimpse at the survivors of Dumbledore's Army all grown up.

Writing as the acerbic Rita Skeeter, Rowling's piece revealed a few interesting tidbits; Harry is going grey and Ron is a little bald, Neville may be a little bit of an alcoholic, Teddy Lupin is quite the rake and Luna Lovegood is as charmingly loopy as ever. It was just enough of a taste of the new world of Harry Potter that fans were left clamoring more. Which really begs the question, should JK Rowling just give up, give in and write another Potter book?

There are several scenarios that fans have suggested. One of the most popular is for the saga to go back in time, not forwards, to tell the tale of The Marauders; James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and the loathsome Peter Pettigrew, as well as that of Lily Evans and a younger Snape. Others would prefer that the narrative begun on Pottermore be expanded and the lives of the new generation of Hogwarts kids, as in Harry and Ginny's and Ron and Hermione's children, as well as Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley be chronicled.

Of one thing there is little doubt, such books would really sell. J.K Rowling's post Potter books have not fared anywhere near as well as people might have expected and the public thirst for all things Harry has not diminished, as the grand opening of a new Diagon Alley attraction at Universal Orlando recently proved. But would carrying on the series spoil everything, whether it goes forwards or backwards in time? Is it best to leave the saga where it ended?

Personally, I'm not too torn, I think that JK should really just go for it. Via Pottermore, she has expanded on the backstories of many of the characters and a movie based on the companion Potter volume 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' with a screenplay penned by Rowling in production she has certainly not divorced herself from the wizarding world by any means.

Would I prefer a Marauder's tale or the continuation of Harry's story? Now that one I am not so sure about. Much of the Maurader's tale was told through flashbacks and reminiscences in the original series, but exploring the events of the First Wizarding War would certainly be fascinating.

Then there is the fact that in the short Pottermore piece Rowling, as Rita, wrote “The famous lightning scar has company: Potter is sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone. Requests for information as to its provenance merely produced the usual response from the Ministry of Magic: ‘We do not comment on the top secret work of the Auror department, as we have told you no less than 514 times, Ms. Skeeter.’” Wouldn't it be interesting to find out who - or what - Harry is battling now? I think it would. Either way, I still hope that one way or another we all get to return to Hogwarts someday because to be honest, I still miss it.

Online Book Reviews: Buyer Beware!

Like many people I am not exactly what you would call rich, so buying a new book is always something of a treat for me. And as my time is limited there is more to my habits as a picky book buyer than simple dollars and cents thrift. Since I was a teen I have had a strange contract with myself; I will never let a book defeat me, however bad it is, I will read it to the end. But I really would prefer not to waste my time and money on a rotten read in the first place.

In that I know I am far from alone in these habits, which is why ever since I made the switch to eBooks I, like millions of others, fell into the habit of reading through the reviews on the sales page to help me make a decision about whether or not I should spend my hard earned cash on a less well known author's work.

The trouble is that those reviews are increasingly fake, bought and paid for by the authors, even, as the New York Times revealed last year, by authors you would never think would need to buy fake reviews because they surely have a high enough profile to never need such things.

Some of the fake reviews are easy to spot. They are badly worded and contain very little about the plot or the author. You may never even see these types of reviews anymore as Amazon and its peers have become fairly adept at weeding them out. Realizing this however, fake review brokers - it is quite a cottage industry this days you see - got smarter, especially when Amazon introduced the 'verified purchase' notation for their reviews. Surely, if someone has paid for a book then their review must be genuine, even if it is a little too gushy or badly worded.

Well, not so fast. There are, as a number of newspaper and media investigations have uncovered, still a number of companies offering to sell authors great reviews having found a way to get past that pesky verified purchase hurdle. They now simply require that their paid reviewers purchase the book in question themselves with the promise of reimbursement if and when their review is deemed acceptable by the company (translation: as long as it is a positive one.)

So, you cannot really trust onsite reviews anymore. If the book you are interested in is by a well-known author, let's say horror lord Stephen King for example, then this is not a problem, as the chances are good that every newspaper in the country that offers a book review section has already reviewed it and their thought can be found with a simple Google search. However, many of the best books I have read over the last few years have been by authors few people have heard of.

So you do have to take a chance. The easiest way to minimize your financial risk is to borrow the book rather than purchase it. Your local library(remember that place?) is a good place to start or, if you are an Amazon Prime member you have access to the Kindle owners lending library which operates in a similar manner. Or, if the premise of the book sounds intriguing you can risk a few bucks. Even if the book is a rotter in the end you will only have lost the price of a frothy coffee at Starbucks and who knows, you might discover a real gem and a new favorite author.

A Brief Guide to Book Nerds; How to Learn to Love and Live With Them

I love books, reading them, holding them, sorting them. Sure I have an ever growing library of eBooks but I also have a dozen shelves, and counting, filled with not just newer books but also treasures that I have owned since childhood, have stumbled across at a thrift store or a yard sale or have on very long term loan from acquaintances (because they have never bothered to ask for them back.) I belong to both online book clubs and a couple of offline ones and I am the kind of person who can always threaten movie and TV fans with spoilers because I read the book years ago. In short, I am what is known as a book nerd.

But book nerds do come in different species and it is often helpful, whether you are a reader yourself or not, if you can identify them, so that you have a better understanding of their behaviors, especially if you have to live/work/hang out with them. Here then is a short guide to the most common of the book nerd species:

The Insatiable Omnivore

I have to say that I fall into this category. The Insatiable Omnivore will - and does - read anything. Books, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes, the book that someone else is reading on the subway when the train is a little too packed for them to take out their own tome. No book has ever defeated them, however bad, and they are willing to give almost any new title a go just in case they would be missing out on something great if they did not.

The Insatiable Omnivore is an easy going person to deal with. No need to wrack your brains over what to buy them for their birthday or Christmas, a bookstore gift certificate will be perfect every time. And they are not hard to keep amused either. Simply point them in the direction of a book sale at the library or at a box of books at a flea market and you won't see them for hours.

The Book Snob

The Book Snob is also a voracious reader but only of a certain 'class' of books. They would never be seen dead reading a Stephen King novel and they avoided '50 Shades of Grey' on general principle. They will grudgingly admit to having read the 'Harry Potter' novels but only because they were a child at the time and knew no better (even though they were actually 17 when 'Sorcerer’s Stone' came out but who's counting?)

The Book Snob can be a rather useful character for other book nerds to get to know because they do tend to focus on new and obscure authors and will often be able to recommend a title you may not have considered (or even heard of) that turns out to be a real gem.

The Reverse Snob

The Reverse Snob is the kind of person who actually loves the fact that some other book nerds give them sideways glances when they notice their space chicks and fiery dragons read on the train. They also wear t shirts proclaiming things like 'Ask Me about My Doctor Who Extended Universe Collection'. These are the people who buy novelizations of movies (they are currently breathlessly awaiting the release of Sharknado 2 in paperback) and whether you question their taste level or not they are endless fun to be around.

The Desperate Dreamer

These are the book nerds who live in eternal hope of things that to other book nerds sound like practical impossibilities. They truly believe that hidden away somewhere in his old home in Leeds there are even more unseen J.R.R Tolkien manuscripts that will be rediscovered any day. They also believe the same of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and even William Shakespeare.

These days they can often be found sending yet another feverish email to J.K Rowling imploring her to drop all of the adult author nonsense and get back to writing about Harry. All you can do for these people is listen and smile indulgently and then be tolerant when they goad you over the fact that their hopes are occasionally fulfilled (case in point the fact that Ann Rice is in the process of writing a new Vampire Lestat book ten years after swearing the Vampire Chronicles were over.

I created this blog to open a window to the world. A place where I will mainly talk about books, but also about everything I like.

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