The Beauty of Books

Did you know it was eBook week, in which we are all asked to celebrate the eBook by reading at least one?

Long time readers have been privy to my “reading in the heat” debacles with the iPad and have also no doubt followed the links to historiann’s discussion of eReaders here and elsewhere, so I won’t go into those issues again. What I will say is that there is something amazing and wonderful about surrounding oneself with the written word in a way that is visible and tangible. Combing through the stacks in the library or discovering an old bookstore and walking it aisles endlessly. I think it became easier to overlook real books when bookstores became flooded with over-bright lights, corporate coffee screaming at you from just beyond the paid for by the publisher displays or the slightly corporate masquerading as alternative rose, purple, and blue rooms of an occasionally union busting store that caters to hipsters and poc in the know are getting more and more wary of racial profiling in. And now we have 1,000 book libraries in slim casing, with no pages to dog ear or sense of their magnitude. They have little more substance than the video games or movies we carry on the same devices. They have little substance at all considering they can be deleted, changed, or reclaimed by the  store that sold you the book at any time. No one can come into your home library on a whim and say “oops, we’re sorry we didn’t actually mean to sell that to you, so we’re taking it back” or add advertisements to its back or front pages. We live in a digital age. And I am an iPad owner who is seldom seen without it. But I can tell you, nothing seems more peaceful than when I am sitting in my home library, surrounded by books, soaking it all in.

IPad Overheats!

(I realize this is full on fluffy when I could be writing something else; sadly I’m busy, give me a break)

Yesterday, having been given a reprieve from two pending meetings and a deadline, I went out to sit in the sunshine with the dogs. While they were running happily at the dog park making friends, I thought I’d catch up on my “summer fluff reading”. I have been meaning to discover why the Steig Larsson books are so popular with feminists and whether or not the new zombie book for the summer stands up to World War Z for a while now and this seemed like the ideal time.

In the park, most people prop themselves up under the shade of a tree to read but I like the sun. So unlike others, I sat just beyond the trees  where the full face of the summer sun could shine on me. My iPad rested against the make shift stand I’d made out of my bent knees; the letters of my ebook were only slightly visible but still readable. I’d already read the reviews of the iPad glare problem, so I had already adjusted the color theme on the nook reader app for summer reading and had an anti-glare screen ready in my purse just in case. The color adjustment, combined with an increase in the font size, worked well enough that I could read the words in full sunlight with limited strain.

However, I had barely gotten to page three of my book, when the iPad went dark. The screen blinked once and then was gone. A moment later a familiar yellow triangle with the lightening bolt throughout, I thought was relegated to desktops, popped up at the top of my screen with a warning: iPad needs to cool down before use. It was 75 degrees outside. Hardly hot.

image unattributed

I moved to the shade of a tree and tried pushing the restart button … The same scary warning came up again.

My partner, who had brought a hard copy book to the dog park, simply laughed at me as she turned the worn pages of her favorite paperback. Like me, she wondered exactly how my new iPad was going to fair either in Spain this summer or in la isla where we often find ourselves this time of year. Like other working summer travelers I had these visions of slimmed down carry on luggage this year; just me, my love, and all my reading, emailing, writing, etc. crammed into a sleek little iPad. However, 75 degrees is positively cool compared to the 90-100+ weather that dominates the Latin landscape in the summer time.

After 1o minutes in the shade, my gf decided perhaps we should go home in case the IPad blew up. It had not turned back on. And while I was trying not to look anymore foolish in front of her than I already did, I was starting to panic. After having the IPad for several months, it has all of my notes from last term, one of my newer presentations, two in progress papers, 6 books, and my portable copies of two teen series I am reviewing for use in a media class for Fall. All of that would be lost if the IPad blinked out because of a little sunshine. (You are supposed to back up the IPad on a desktop or laptop computer regularly so as not to lose data, but with my busy life I seldom have time. In fact, one of the reasons I was reading on the nook app instead of the kindle app, which is far superior in book like reader experience, is because Barnes and Noble actually saves your books to the website and makes it possible to access them again if you lose them on your portable.)

The Nassau Library Blog

By the time we reached home, the iPad was working again. No permanent damage occurred with any of my files nor the applications as far as I can tell. However, I am left with the sinking suspicion that the iPad is utterly useless outside of air conditioned settings in the summer time. Not only does the screen wash out in sunshine, unless you are willing to spend between $10 and $30 extra for an anti-glare protector, but apparently the iPad overheats in moderate sunshine. I’m not willing to experiment to see if it overheats while turned off in sunshine, ie if you walk around with it in your bag in the sun, so I can’t say how it will fare moving from AC to AC. Just imagine how much hotter the inside of a purse or gym bag is than your hands. Or worse, what happens when you show up to present that brilliant new theory of yours and the warning sign goes up on the big projection screen because the conference room AC is lower than N. American standards.

If you can’t sit in the sun, it might not work without AC, and you are likely not able to carry it around for extended periods in the sun, then it is a $700 piece of equipment that is only available for seasonal use. Images of my gf tucking her paperback back in her bag chuckling and memories of historiann’s post on ebook readers in general abound.

There are many fixes supposedly promised from Apple on the way for the iPad. Among these are issues with multi-tasking, screen adjustment, and app standards. Yet both the proprietary nature of Apple’s app system and the hardware issues seem like they are going to continue to make this little machine as problematic as it is revolutionary. For me it has become an integral part of my daily life, from the alarm system that sings to me when I have to go to a meeting, to the notepad where I keep all of my notes & quickly integrate links to videos and websites that are related, to the option of folding the carrying case up and setting it on the dashboard to watch videos for my classes while my gf runs inside the store hardware store, it’s endless uses have made my life much more simple on the go. And yet, as I pack for our seminar in Spain this summer or re-imagine my research/vacation trips to la isla, I can’t help but think that the iPad will be staying at home.