The E-Reader and the B-M-T-R List


I won a prize at the Greater Merced Chamber mixer the other night.

I try to attend a few of the Chamber’s monthly networking events during the year.  As many of you may know, I am the former Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber.  Going to the Greater Chamber's mixers help me reconnect with Chamber members, local government office holders and staff, as well as new folks interested in promoting their businesses through the Chamber.

The event sponsor was Comfort Keepers, a home health care company.   It’s customary at these events that a raffle be held.  I bought some tickets when I learned that the proceeds from that night’s raffle would benefit the local Food Bank and Catholic Charities.

Both are among the many human service agencies that help our community. Comfort Keepers chose these two organizations and solicited local businesses and their suppliers to provide prizes for the drawing.

Besides knowing that 100-percent of ticket sales would benefit these two charities, the raffle boasted some pretty nifty prizes.  And as luck would have it, I won an e-reader.

Now I can read books without paper.

I spent the weekend getting my e-reader ready to go.  It was surprisingly easy for a technically challenged person like me.  Within an hour, I had downloaded the Complete Works of Mark Twain.

Within a few days, I had finished reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  I chose that novel as my first e-read because it was available and because I often feel I don't read enough of the classics.

Having enjoyed The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in grade school and Huckleberry Finn in high school, I thought it would be fun to go back to basics.  Mark Twain is getting considerable renewed interest in recent months following the publication of his autobiography some one-hundred years after his death.

Reading with an e-reader has been a real adventure.  I tap the screen when I reach the bottom of the page.  If I tap too lightly, the page won't turn.  If I tap too hard, it turns more than one page.

Lighting was always an issue when I read a book on paper.  I need to be in a well-lit room or outdoors.  With the e-reader, the book itself is lit like a computer screen so a room light is no longer necessary.

Outdoors, the model I have does pretty well in sunlight, although it hasn't really been tested until it comes up against a San Joaquin Valley summer sunshine day.  I'll let you know how that works in July.

Most importantly, the e-reader has allowed me to read classic literature on my terms.  Many classic books are available for free through the e-reader manufacturer.

Others, such as a Bible or the Mark Twain collection I purchased, are just 99-cents.  Best sellers, such as former President Bush's autobiography Decision Points, cost about ten to fifteen dollars for an e-reader edition.

I'll probably fall into a routine of continuing my weekly trips to the Merced Public Library for the latest books, while picking up an occasional book at a bookstore or church sale. I plan on using the e-reader for my self-described BMTR books.

BMTR books are books I’ve “been meaning to read”.  Last year, I promised myself to concentrate on classic literature.  That focus resulted in only one classic (A Picture of Dorian Gray) among the nearly fifty books I read in 2010.

With my e-reader, I can load up many more at low or no cost.  I may actually have a better shot of completing more of the classics this year.  Let’s hope so.

At any rate, I'll probably end up reading more thanks to my newest option for enjoying books.  And I haven't even started to explore the possibilities with getting newspaper and magazines through the e-reader.  It will be one step at a time for me as I expand my digital horizons.

I won more than just a prize the other night at the Chamber mixer.  I also won a new way to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes: reading.  I entered the digital age for books.  And I couldn't be happier.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.