Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Guest Post - David Berner

To Ebook or Not to Ebook

By David W. Berner

I am at a crossroads. Do I fall into the allure of technology, or do I keep to the traditions of an ancient and beautiful art?

I have an iPhone, I download music, I text, I know people who have Tivo, and I can blog. The evidence is right in front of me. But the ebook? I just don’t know.

The feel of a book is a one-of-a-kind sensation - hardcover, soft, spindled, paper, plastic. It doesn’t matter. The tactile response is unmatched. And not only the touch, but also the smell. The sharp tang of a brand new book, the mustiness of an old one, each evokes an emotional response from any true book lover.

Recently on a flight from Chicago to New York City I watched a forty-something woman settle into your coach seat with a pillow, a blanket, and a Kindle. She caressed it like a child might cradle their favorite Harry Potter book. From my seat across the aisle, I could see the print – big and bold, electronic, yes, but accessible, comfortable, almost warm.

I envied her.

Really, I did. Whether a Kindle or the Sony version of the ebook translator or any of the others that may be making their debuts at online bookstores, I found myself fascinated. I had seen such a devise before, several in fact, most recently at a coffee shop in Chicago. It was another woman, also cozying up – this time in a big leather chair – who embraced her Kindle as if it were a first edition of a Dickens novel.

So why don’t I have one?

Is it time to go ebook? My memoir, Accidental Lessons, is available as an ebook, the Kindle version. So, why aren’t I ready to jump into this new brave world? Imagine, thousands of books in one readable unit. I feel like a little Hemingway – pull it up on the Kindle. I could read a bit of Joyce – pull it up on the Kindle. I could read a bit of that wonderful new novel on the New York Times Best Seller List – pull it up, right now.

I’ll get one of those things at some point, most likely. It might be inevitable. But on that plane flight to New York, as a watched the woman scroll from page to page, I felt the unmatched comfort of reaching for my tattered copy of my ten year old paperback edition of Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, found the dog-eared page that marked where I last left off, sunk down in my seat, and began to read from what may have been regarded centuries ago as the world’s “new media,” a form of delivering stories revolutionary for its time, and timeless in it’s design. Even today.

I’ve got to have something to fill those floor-to-ceiling shelves in my family room, right?

Accidental Lessons is a remarkable memoir by successful Chicago journalist David W. Berner. Berner takes the reader inside his own personal journey; a heart wrenching and inspirational account of self-discovery. After a series of personal upheavals – his marriage falls apart, his father becomes terminally ill, and his career crumbles – this respected reporter makes a difficult decision that changes his life forever. Berner takes a job in a public school outside Chicago where the students are facing traumatic obstacles – dysfunctional families, gangs, and drugs. What he learns from them teaches him invaluable lessons about himself, who he is, and why he became a journalist in the first place – to seek out the truth and give voice to those who need their story told. You can visit his website at www.davidwberner.com or www.accidentallessons.com.

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