January 2012 Issue

Speaking of Skynet, I seem to have acquired a NOOK Simple Touch e-reader just in time to watch Barnes & Noble implode completely. Well, it was both cheaper and snappier than the equivalent Kindle, and, unlike the Kindle, lets me add my own books in the widely-used epub format, so if B&N really does buy the farm it won’t be just a paperweight. The rationale for the acquisition (it was a Christmas gift) is that my left hand is largely dysfunctional because of the ms (and my right hand isn’t what it was either). This makes it impossible to handle a large book, especially a hardback. So now I have this little thing, just a bit bigger than a mass-market paperback, on which I am painlessly reading Haruki Murakami’s 944 page 1Q84, which weighs in at about three pounds in hardback, well beyond my comfort zone (I can’t even hold a coffee cup in my left hand). I wish the screen were a bit brighter, but I like the fact that it can’t do anything but show you a book. I actually find reading on this thing very natural, and the fact that I can make the type as large as I like takes away all the stress of trying to focus my eyes on a printed page. I still prefer paper, however, and hope real books are around for a long, long time.

Incidentally, I stopped by the local B&N the other day to buy a simple case for my Nook, and I was taken aback by the palpable desperation of the woman who showed me my choices. She strongly urged me to bring the little fellow in for a visit, perhaps take a class in Advanced Nookery (for a machine that comes with a three-page instruction manual?), buy some Nook bling, or just hang out in the Cafe, guzzling expensive bad coffee while reading ebooks for free. Wow. It was like those old Maytag commercials with Jesse White as the lonely repair guy.

It’s really too bad that I can’t publish The Word Detective on the Nook, but you can subscribe to The Word Detective for Kindle via that link or the link over there in the left column. Amazon was supposedly selling ten zillion Kindles per hour last month, so you should probably hop to it before they run out of electrons. Apparently you folks who bought a Kindle Fire (Brilliant name, doncha think? Kindle… Fire… get it?) are out of luck, as that particular gizmo demands a different format of website, or something. But it works with all the other, non-bloated-and-slow Kindii. My cut of your subscription, and I mention this only because I know you’re dying to know, amounts to exactly the cost of one-half can of Fancy Feast.

Come to think of it, any Nook or Kindle with even a rudimentary web browser can read this site.


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