By Keith Gatling
Patron Services Librarian for Technology at the Liverpool Public Library in the Syracuse, NY, area

Part 1 of a two-part series. In Part 2, Keith tells how he uses ebooks. He’ll welcome your questions in the comments areas of the two posts.

I have a very liberal friend who I found is very prejudiced.

Against ebooks.

She’s never read one and says that she never wants to. She’s a “real book” person.

I pointed out to her that had she heard someone say this about a person, she’d rip them up one side and down the other. She hasn’t even tried an ebook and found it wanting. Rather, she’s just decided that she doesn’t like ebooks, will not like ebooks, and won’t even give ebooks half a chance.

Sounds like prejudice to me.

I wonder how she feels about green eggs and ham.

Now, I know that some of you will take issue with my using the word “prejudiced” for merely talking about books, and others of you will take issue with my assuming that a “liberal” person would have to like ebooks. But that’s not quite the case. My argument is that the liberal person that she believes she is should at least give the ebooks a chance before she dismisses them out of hand.

And that’s the problem—she’s never tried one, and never wants to.

OK, I feel the same about certain foods, so I suppose I should cut her a little slack. But in many ways, it’s just not quite the same.

What does she have against ebooks? I think it’s a fidelity thing. Really. I suspect that she, like so many other book lovers, is a book lover. Me—I’m a lover of reading. I’ll read books, magazines, cereal boxes; if it’s got print on it, I’ll read it. Books, for me, were just the container that all the words came in. It was always about the words, not the container. So when a new container came around that was easier to carry around, that let me store many collections of words at once, and that let this aging guy ramp up the font size as his eyes needed, I was all in!

But my friend—she’s had a long-term relationship with the container that is called the paper book and doesn’t want to even consider an ebook because it would be tantamount to cheating on her beloved. She doesn’t want to try an ebook because she doesn’t want to end up liking the ebook. My friend doesn’t want to end up liking it over the old paper container—she doesn’t want to leave her old lover for this new young thing.

She doesn’t understand that the new young thing is just a new container for the soul of what the old container held; so she wouldn’t be cheating after all.

To be sure, I understand personal preferences. I understand preferring steak to chicken, or tofu to meat. I understand having those preferences after having tried each. I would totally understand if, like some people dear to me, she’d said that she had tried ebooks, and they just weren’t for her. But instead, she’s said that she’s never tried one and hopes never to try one.

Wow—pretty closed-minded for a person who considers herself to be very liberal.

But just you wait. We’ll see what happens in a few years, when she needs large-print books and they aren’t available for the particular books she wants to read.

Perhaps then she’ll discover, and grudgingly admit, that she likes ebooks.

As well as green eggs and ham!

Bio: Keith is a veteran computer instructor and training-materials creator and has been reading ebooks for years on an iPod and iPad. He has also written short stories, blogs (here and here), is a church deacon, father of two daughters, and husband to Cheryl Gatling, who has written poetry. A post similar to the above drew more than 150 comments on Facebook. He holds an MLS from Syracuse University.