Monday, March 29, 2010

Saving the planet while reducing clutter? yes please!

I've always been distrustful of technology. I am like an old person in that way - it takes me a long time to warm up to the newest ideas, and even longer to start using them, even after they've been mainstream. I still don't use twitter (nor have I ever checked it out), despite the fact that my Dad mastered it a full year ago. My digital pictures are backed up more times, than as Phil says "Career Education Corporation's entire system of servers". I literally downloaded them to my desktop, uploaded them to shutterfly, printed many of them into paper copies, have started compiling them onto an external hard drive, and save them on the memory cards themselves. I just buy a new memory card rather than delete the old pictures. I still don't feel completely comfortable that they won't be lost, but at some point it stops being a rational system and starts becoming an obsession.

That is why, when Phil suggested we go look at the Sony e-reader I was very hesitant. I love going to book stores and just browsing. I probably read a book every week when I have the time, and at a minimum a book every month during times like Christmas. I don't want to lose the information in my books and more often than not, read non-fiction. Being a history major, I have come to view non-fiction books as an excellent resource to understand our world. In much the same way I don't want to lose my digital photographs, having books in a digital format seems like risky business.

There's also the issue of sorting my books. When I have them in print, I can organize them by subject and look over my collection to easily find a book I want to reference or re read. Because I consider books to be reference materials, I generally mark any sections I deem particularly important. Despite the vast number of books that I have, I can easily find most of the passages I'm looking for within 15 minutes.

Which brings me to the e-reader. Why would I want one of these crazy new machines? I am terrified of the technology, and it is hardly mainstream yet, which means all of the kinks have not been worked out at all. BUT a little voice inside my head kept reminding me that an e-reader would be far more eco friendly. No trees would need to be chopped down. I would have more space and less book clutter. I could still organize my books by section in my digital library and because the digital library exists not only on my computer but in cyberspace, it would be protected should my computer crash. The e-reader even has ways to bookmark passages that I wish to reference later.

I realized, that at a conservative estimate, if I read 14 books a year, each having approximately 250 pages, I would be using 3500 pieces of paper PER year, and that doesn't include the covers, title pages, or tables of contents. So in an effort to be slightly more eco friendly I allowed him to convince me, despite having some serious reservations.

I have only had the ereader for the weekend. We bought it last Thursday and Friday I bought my first book ("Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollen), and I have already torn through 150 pages of that book, as well as 50 pages of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". I absolutely love it. In one of my college courses I had learned that reading information on your computer versus in print reduces comprehension by 30%. I feared that would be the case with the e-reader, but because it is made to actually look like the page of the book, I have not experienced that yet, and seriously doubt that I will. It is very compact so I can actually bring my reading with me to a great number of places that I would have hesitated to do so before, due to size. The downloading is quick, easy, and painless. I feel quite spoiled that I get to save the environment by owning such a quaint little device.

Who knew being eco friendly would be so wonderful??

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