E-tiquette - Karen Bush

Yes, it's December, and it won't be long now until it's Christmas, bringing with it mince pies, mulled wine and all sorts of  other good things, including, if you are lucky, a few prezzies of books, or possibly even a new E-reader to get your nose into.
Which brings me to the vexing matter of E-book etiquette - or E-tiquette as it could perhaps be shortened to. 
E-reader? What E-reader? Nope, haven't seen one
round here.
When I see someone absorbed in a book I'm always insatiably curious about what they are reading. Is it something I've already read? Or maybe a book I might like to read? 
With a paper book, when you casually ask 'What are you reading?' it is easy for the reader to respond without too much disturbance to the flow ... just holding up the book slightly so the cover with the title can be seen, while continuing reading. 
With an E-book it seems so much more impolite to disturb someone: they have to actually stop reading and speak to you and tell you. No good holding up the E-reader as it will just be a page of text, with no clues as to what the book is.
No! You can't see! Go and read your own book!

And then there is the question of browsing through people's bookshelves. I love doing it. 
But is it rude to pick up someone else's E-reader and browse through their virtual library? It seems rather invasive: unlike a paper book, there is something rather private about an E-reader.  

And if you are short of reading matter this Christmas, why not dip into Sparks 2, 
containing the collected selected wit and wisdom of Authors Electric.
If all has gone to plan (I'm writing this in October so am currently working on it) it is available for pre-order HERE, and will be published in both digital and paperback editions on Midwinter Day.
Just in time for Christmas and all those annoying people asking you what you're reading.


Wendy H. Jones said…
What a great viewpoint. It is slightly vexing not to be able to look at a cover and see if you might like a book. Insatiable curiosity means I always want to see what someone is reading in case it is something we might like
Bill Kirton said…
There's also the fact (well, it's a fact as far as I'm concerned) that reading a paper book is still a better experience than the E-quivalent (Sorry, Karen, it's catching). I love the various conveniences of Kindles and iPads and, of course, we are, after all, ELECTRIC Authors, but the curling up with a book is a lovely disconnect from everything else and entering a unique world inhabited only by you, the author and her/his creations.
Susan Price said…
I don't see what's so different about curling up with a paper book and curling up with an e-book, Bill - except that the paper book is more inconvenient. I am reading a book Karen lent me at the moment - the wonderful Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb - and I'm very grateful for the recommend and the lend, but, but - the paper book keeps springing closed, and losing my place, and isn't as easy to hold as a kindle, nor as easy to prop up in a readable position.

But I liked the pondering about e-book etiquette. It's very true that I don't mind people looking at my bookshelves at all - but would be very put out if they picked up my kindle and started looking through the books on it - as much as if someone started sorting through my bag or pockets to see what I kept in there. I don't quite know why that is.

Is it because a kindle is so much more enclosed that a bookshelf or paper book? The cover isn't on display, it has to be opened with a password - is that why it feels so much more private?
madwippitt said…
Do you need another bookmark to help you keep your place Sue? :-)
I have plenty more ...
Ann Turnbull said…
I too find many paperbacks hard to hold open with one hand. It could be me getting weaker, but I feel that books are much more tightly bound than they used to be. Also, modern books are printed on thicker paper and are larger and heavier than older ones. I do find it easier to read on the Kindle, but still prefer paper books because you can move back and forth in them, and they are somehow 'real' in a way that e-books are not. My cat doesn't like me reading the Kindle when she's on my lap; I think maybe there's some little sound or movement that irritates her.

Regarding e-tiquette, and someone looking at what's on your e-reader, my Kindle was bought for me as a present by my husband and presumably registered in his name, so he always knows when I've bought something and often comments on it. I find this quite intrusive! However if I buy a paper book I usually want to show it to him. Strange...
Lydia Bennet said…
When you buy a kindle as a gift, you can have it registered to the giftee, so there's no need for your husband to know what's on yours! I prefer Kindles to books now for the reading experience, but there are good reasons for the two issues Karen raises. Yes you can look at a cover and see what someone's reading on the Metro, but when 50 Shades became a big hit, part of the reason given was that women felt ok about buying and reading a sexy book on the train without anyone knowing. And the other issue, well one's home has different rooms and different book collections, you may have a living room array vistiors are free to browse, but you may have a pile of porn under the bed or in your 'goodie drawer' which is safe from prying eyes. On one's kindle may be all the books you have, including personal, confidential documents using amazon's document service whereby you can study, annotate and amend docs on your kindle, so anyone browsing that without permission is indeed intruding and deserves a slap over the chops with a wet haddock.
Susan Price said…
I must keep a haddock handy.

Karen, the beautiful bookmark with the scarlet tassel is indeed very useful indeed for marking my place between reads, but doesn't help when I'm trying to read while putting my socks or cleaning my teeth (as is my wont.) Or waiting for the kettle to boil, or drying my hair. At such times I can prop the rigid kindle up against taps or whatever's handy, and it doesn't spring shut or fall in the sink.
Dennis Hamley said…
I'm old and traditional enough to prefer a real book, though, Ann, I agree that publishers seen bent on making it less easy. But I've just found an aspect of Ebooks that I hadn;'t quite grasped. On the plane to NZ, from where I'm writing, I read and finished Mari's 'Wintergreen" (lovely: more about that later) and then went to look for something good on my Kindle. And, quite unexpectedly and unlooked for, there was Thomas Hardy's face staring gloomily at me and I remembered years ago downloading all his works for free. So, quite out of the blue, I found myself reading Jude the Obscure for the first time for forty years and it made the rest of the flight fly, as they say, by. In whatever other circumstances might I have found myself making a split second, unexpected decision to read Hardy's gloomiest book and love every word of it?
The Kindle might feel private, but actually the great zon is keeping tabs on every page you read... and if you have sharing turned on, then I believe other readers of the same ebook can see what you highlight! So maybe a paperback wrapped up in a paper cover is really the only way to hide..?

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