June 3, 2008

On Books Part 2 (now with less butt talk)

Every now and again I get an e-mail from some internet marketing guru asking if I want to test drive a product for free in exchange for reviewing it on my blog. Scott and I have had MANY variations of this conversation:

Me: Scott? I got this e-mail…Do I want to get a free ______ and write a review about it?
Him: No.
Me: *delete*

It’s never anything I want to review. I wish someone would ask me to review a PRIUS. THAT I would take. But no, it is always something that I have ZERO interest in. And part of the reason I say NO is, I don’t want to get 50 of those emails a week, asking if I want to review everything from DOG BRUSHES to LAXATIVES.

One time I remember I said, “Hey Scott, do I want to get a free bottle of color safe bleach alternative detergent and then write a review of it?” and he leveled a long, bland stare at me and said, “Don’t you think you would need to know HOW TO WORK THE WASHING MACHINE to truly take advantage of that offer?” And I --- the laundry-hating and utterly SPOILED creature who seldom if ever sullies her hands with the dials and knobs upon that hated object --- very quickly changed the subject.

But then last week, a woman asked me if I wanted to get a free Sony Reader and review it.

Me: *already reaching for the delete button* Scott? I got this e-mail…Do I want to get a free Sony Reader and write a review about it?
Me: For reals?
Scott: Have you SEEN our basement? If you get a memory chip, you could have most of that crap downstairs on a little tablet that goes in your purse.
Me: It’s not cra—
Scott: I mean you could have most of that great literature that has set your heart ablaze and flipped your brain switch to the on position and caused you to grow into the amazing creature I see before me now who blah blah etc skip to the important part, IN A TABLET THAT GOES IN YOUR PURSE. Instead of a room.
Me: Fine. But I won’t like it.

And I was very very prepared not to like it. SO prepared to not like it, that when it came, I threw the box onto Scott’s desk and said, “The Purse-sized book room came. Can you make it go?”

Scott, being Mr. Gadget, was ALL UP ONS about it. He popped the box open and had that thing out and running before I had finished the sentence. He was so enthused that I got slightly interested, and stayed in the room answering emails and glancing over to see what he was doing.

He got a little wire and clipped the thing to his computer, and within four minutes he said, LOOK! And showed me this:


Me: Holy Cow! Did gods in Alabama COME with the Reader?
Him: No. The reader came with Wuthering Heights and a buncha excerpts I deleted off it. I went and found GODS IN ALABAMA for sale and downloaded it. THAT FAST!
Me: Wait. You just went and BOUGHT gods in Alabama?
Him: Yup! Took about a minute!
Me: You know I get that book for free, right? That particular one?
Him: But now it is on my computer.
Me: Scott. I already have that book on MY computer. Which I WROTE IT ON.
Him: But look, now you have it ON YOUR SONY READER! AND IT TOOK ABOUT A MINUTE!

He was SO pleased I let it drop and asked mildly that he get me another book, maybe something I hadn’t already perused or, say, spent two years of my life writing…

He got me Pillars of the Earth which I had long been meaning to read, and I promptly shoved the Sony Reader in my purse and then forgot it existed while I read two blessedly made-of-paper ARCs.

BUT THEN! On Sunday, there was a blood drive I didn’t know about happening at my church and I got it in my head that I was going to try to give blood. THEY NEVER LET ME! I am always ANEMIC. But I thought, since I have been RELIGIOUSLY taking a multi-vitamin +iron since starting Weight Watchers, maybe, just MAYBE, I would have enough iron in my blood to SQUEAK through.

HIDEOUS CONFESSION: I DO always want to give blood. And save three lives. ALWAYS. Scott gives blood EVERY time he is eligible, and I used to give blood regularly, too, but after having my kids, I remained anemic, and they always refuse me, so I quit trying. And in my pre-defense, I HAVE been taking vitamins so I REALLY thought there might be a chance.

HOWEVER! I SHAMEFULLY and DISGUSTINGLY admit that the ACTUAL REASON I decided to TRY this particular Sunday was not an altruistic desire to help humanity. It was because (I can’t BELIEVE I am admitting this) it was because…I saw they had Nutter Butters.
I KNEW if I gave blood, DIET BE DAMNED, I would be FORCED to eat cookies. Through no fault of my own. And I instantly and passionately became CONVINCED that Nutter Butters eaten in the interest of SAVING LIVES would not count toward my points.

Yes. I am going to hell.

SO! I sat there in line, waiting to get my finger poked and have a droplet squeezed into the blue water where it bobbed right up to the top like a happy-drunk penguin instead of properly and respectably SINKING like good iron-ated decent blood would, and then waiting again for them to spin it out and see if it was under 38 which of course it WAS, and then waiting STILL MORE to sign a YES, I UNDERSTAND I AM ANEMIC AND WILL THEREFORE NOT BE GIVEN ANY COOKIES form and to be to be told to take vitamins (I AM!!!) and to eat more steak and spinach ( I DO!!!) and to eat dried apricots, which, really, I would rather eat a stuffed and buttered Piglet doll because dried apricots taste like SHOES.

During ALL this waiting I would have been bored nigh unto DEATH, except I remembered I had THE PURSE SIZED BOOK ROOM with Pillars of the Earth (which I am really enjoying, by the way---very good book!) already downloaded with me. I also had NO IDEA how to use the thing because Scott had played with it almost exclusively, but it was VERY easy to figure out. I had it up and running and was reading in about two minutes, and that was with no instruction book. And now?

I LOVE this stinking thing.
I LOVE it. I love it in an unholy way.
And I named it Clarence and I take it everywhere with me.
Here is what is good:

There is no LIGHT behind the words. You know how reading on a computer screen makes your eyes tired? Well, this doesn’t do that. In fact, you cannot read it in the dark. You need light, just like a real book. I don’t know HOW it works with no light behind it…I suspect black magic. But still, the no BACKLIT screen means no eye-sore-ness--- a necessity for someone who reads as much as I do.

Also, it doesn’t SCROLL which is awesome. I hate to read SCROLLING THINGS. It has a PAGE FLIP button, so you read the book page by page as The Lord rightfully intended. But even though it goes page by page, the pages are flexible – by which I mean, you can MAKE THE FONT BIGGER and it just puts less words on the page and then you still FLIP virtual pages.

With the COVER on, you HOLD it like a paper book, which is comfortable and familiar, so it doesn’t distract you from actually reading. It was so BOOKLY that for the first chapter, I kept reaching with my hand to TURN a page that didn’t exist. I’d find my hand hovering at the TURNING corner with nothing to grasp, and I’d get the giggles and hit the button. OH – it also has a little button that you use to FOLD A CORNER OF A PAGE DOWN to mark your place. That tickled me, too.

I wish I’d asked for this thing for Christmas a solid year ago, and I wouldn’t have had to buy and abandon a good 20 books on tour to keep my luggage under 50 pounds and still have something fresh to read on planes.

I also have to say, I felt very FIRST KID ON MY BLOCK at that blood drive. Everyone wanted to know what the thing WAS and how to work it, and it was kinda FUN to be the kid with the new cool toy. It was like when I was playing Chinese Jacks two months before that 4th grade fad EXPLODED and I was one of the people who had them before anyone knew what they WERE… I am dorky enough to admit I really enjoyed showing it off.

I AM worried about taking it on the beach later this month. It seems like SAND and ELECTRONICS might be a bad mix. I will prolly TAKE IT with me, but read it on the balcony and take a paperback down to the actual sand. Because I like this thing too much to risk wrecking it. In the same way, I feel it is not a good water toy, so I will need to bring paper books for sitting in the hot tub.

I don’t know why the THEORY of BOOK ROOM IN MY PURSE did not appeal to me, because the REALITY is so completely awesome. I also kinda think it’s cute that Scott thinks that getting me a thing that can hold electronic books is going to somehow magically make the HELL PIT BOOK ROOM clear out…unless the black magic component that makes the unlit screen can also PHYSICALLY VACUUM UP paper books and stick them on the screen like what happened to that kid, Mike Teevee, in Willy Wonka…

I joke. But I bet that day is coming.

Posted by joshilyn at June 3, 2008 9:27 AM

Huh. Never heard of it. But if I had one I wouldn't have to move fourteen boxes of books to Pennsylvania...off to speak with my own personal Mr. Gadget!

Posted by: Amy-Go at June 3, 2008 9:35 AM

I prefer a good old fashioned book myself.

Posted by: lee at June 3, 2008 9:53 AM

My husband is completely addicted to his Kindle, which is pretty much the same thing as the Sony Reader. And I enjoy borrowing it. But mostly I envy him when we go on vacation. I pack about 4 or 5 big hardcover library books, he puts his kindle in a bag. Not fair.

Posted by: Jessica at June 3, 2008 10:15 AM

oh, GAWD, joss ... i am CRYING from this.

not to mention cleaning up vanilla latte from my keyboard.

Posted by: the planet of janet at June 3, 2008 10:15 AM

I think I see a new gadget in my future ...

Posted by: TrudyJ at June 3, 2008 10:31 AM

I totally once gave blood just because the guy I liked was. That's a much worse reason than Nutter Butters!

Posted by: Becky at June 3, 2008 10:42 AM

Dude, would the Sony people like another tester? Because while you and your bouncy blood may be going to hell for the sin of coveting Nutter Butters, I'll meet you there for the sin of LUSTING AFTER MY NEIGHBOR'S READER. For reals.

Posted by: Mir at June 3, 2008 10:44 AM

I will adopt your Pit Room! Am sitting in mine.

Posted by: Elena at June 3, 2008 10:52 AM

Wow -- it sounds SO cool! I don't have enough moolah to buy one now, but I can definitely see buying one in the future when my ship comes in. My ship loaded with BOOKS!

Posted by: Aimee at June 3, 2008 11:19 AM

You may have just solved the looming problem of Hubby's birthday for me. Thank you!!

Posted by: RuthWells at June 3, 2008 11:19 AM

Whenever we go to the Sony store my husband spends LONG MINUTES petting the Reader demo thingie. I think he really, really wants one. But he doesn't deserve one, because he only reads scifi whereas I read great lit-tra-chah and whatnot. So I think it should be MINE, if we get one. Hmph.

Also, HEY! I am perpetually anemic too, and the doctors finally figured out why a few years ago when I tried to be a vegetarian -- my body cannot use the iron that comes from plants. It's true. I can only use iron from MEAT (they call that "heme iron", by the way, vs. "non-heme" which comes from plants, although meat ALSO has non-heme which is really confusing). Supplements don't work on me either, so. I'm still a wee bit anemic all the time even though I now know why, because NO ONE can eat that much steak, but I am LESS anemic now than when I wasn't eating the delicious barbecued animals. So I dunno if that's what's going on with you, but there's a weird data point for you, anyway.

Posted by: Badger at June 3, 2008 11:30 AM

How come I only get viagra spam, and you get review this purse size book room spam? so unfair. unfair, I would buy Gods a fourth time to get it. BUMMER...oh wait, I'd still have to buy your books physically to get the autographed version. Well unless you and Scott would want to autograph my reader.

I will take your apricots, they are devine, high in fiber and good for you. They don't let me donate either, I bruise horribly afterwards.

Posted by: Cele at June 3, 2008 12:21 PM

If dried apricots taste like shoes, then shoes must taste like dried apricots??? Well, hooray, I never have to worry about starving to death. I like dried apricots, ergo, I have a stash of food on the floor of my closet. Eeew. That didn't come out right.

Posted by: Lulu at June 3, 2008 12:33 PM

Okay, I am suddenly not feeling like the only one on the planet who is always anemic and can never give blood and who NEVER gets to wear the cool little heroic stickers about having saved someone's life and got COOKIES. Thank you.

And that Sony thing looks pretty amazing. Oh! I have a birthday coming up! woo!

Posted by: toni mcgee causey at June 3, 2008 1:03 PM

Wow! The book reader thingy sounds awesome.... how long can it go before you have to charge it up or does it use batteries or what???

Also - no way would I ever voluntarily give blood - too scared of the giant tube needle. Even giving a little test-tube's worth of blood at the doctor's office is a terrible ordeal for me. I can actually feel my life's essence draining out of my arm... and then the edges of my sight go gray and next thing I know I have my head between my knees. But - I might be talked into trading some blood for a SONY READER!! LOL That would be worthwhile exchange - LOL

Posted by: Becky at June 3, 2008 1:27 PM

I thought I was happy. Now I am not. I will need one of those things, sooner or later.

Posted by: Lisa Milton at June 3, 2008 1:41 PM

Oh the truthiness that came from 'I saw they had Nutter Butters' made me spit the me not eating peanut butter cookie dough right out of the tube, at my monitor.

That, that right there is why you have legions of loyal and devoted readers like me.

Posted by: pam at June 3, 2008 1:42 PM

I've wanted to read a review of one of those book readers by someone I "trust," so thanks!

And, as for the Nutter Butters, the last time I gave blood it was to get out of the house and away from my children. So, we'll go to hell together. Altruism is overrated anyway.

Posted by: Mel at June 3, 2008 2:01 PM

Jealous! How come no one asks me to review such things?

Posted by: Heather at June 3, 2008 2:18 PM

Our house is tiny - well, small enough and with enough RAVING BEASTS OF CHILDREN that posessions have to be stored sort of like you're on a boat. Only keep the things you NEED and keep them in their places. So I have greatly GREATLY pared down my book collection. The whole time I did it I maintained a breezy, devil-may-care attitude about it. "This book will benefit someone ELSE!" and "I have already read it four times!" and "Alla these books are at the library anyhow and I practically live there, what with the kids programs, so! Tra La!"
If I had a Book Room In My Purse, it would all be ok for REALS.

Posted by: Kira at June 3, 2008 2:19 PM

WOWZA!! I want one!!
Like the others, I only get porn, viagra, & get your meds at a Mexican pharmacy spam. I am envious!

Posted by: Heather P. at June 3, 2008 4:19 PM

They've never let me give blood because I don't weigh enough. Yes, you can all hate me now. Even though when in college I tried to convince the nurse at the university blood drive that yes, I DID weigh that much, and I probably did then, but she threatened to go out to her car and get a scale and make me stand on it in front of everyone like some sort of livestock for sale and I gave up. I can't save anyone either. Or get cookies.

Posted by: amy at June 3, 2008 4:32 PM

I've had all the same certainy that I would hate one of those Star Trek book thingies. Hearing you say you love it makes me pause and wonder if it's not one of those rare times when I shall be..... mistaken. Will I love it too?

But what about when the world falls apart and we need our REAL books. And the cost of replacing said REAL books with downloads. And if you lose or break this book thingie, you won't have lost just one book, but many, many books. One of my arguments against ipods. I'd rather lose one CD than all my CD's. And then there's the cost of batteries - and how long can you read it without plugging the thing in? And really, it doesn't hurt your eyes?

Posted by: Laume at June 3, 2008 4:34 PM

I've had all the same certainy that I would hate one of those Star Trek book thingies. Hearing you say you love it makes me pause and wonder if it's not one of those rare times when I shall be..... mistaken. Will I love it too?

But what about when the world falls apart and we need our REAL books. And the cost of replacing said REAL books with downloads. And if you lose or break this book thingie, you won't have lost just one book, but many, many books. One of my arguments against ipods. I'd rather lose one CD than all my CD's. And then there's the cost of batteries - and how long can you read it without plugging the thing in? And really, it doesn't hurt your eyes?

Posted by: Laume at June 3, 2008 4:35 PM


Today's my 13th Wedding Anniversary and GUESS what my True Love purchased for me to commemorate this auspicious occasion?! Why, none other than Between, Georgia and TGWSS!!! And I didn't even tell him to! I just told him how much I enjoyed gods in Alabama! He rocks like that.

Posted by: Dory at June 3, 2008 6:02 PM

Laume said every single thing I was thinking and she said it TWICE, so you can pretend the second Laume comment is signed DebR. :-)

Oh, except I would've added that I like dried apricots. And shoes. Although not for the same purpose. Usually.

Posted by: DebR at June 3, 2008 6:05 PM

Wow, that reader DOES look a lot more reader-friendly than I would have ever suspected. But I could never find (or afford) my entire collection to download, and I would hate for my entire book collection's fate to be at the whim of some chips and wires that could break if I looked at them cross-eyed.

But for travel, or back-up of a few favorites (hmm, but there are SO MANY favorites) it would be awesome!

Posted by: Brigitte at June 4, 2008 6:50 AM

Besides the fact that this was a HILARIOUS post, I'm thinking you just sold a Sony Reader. Hopefully to my wife, if I can successfully drop the Father's Day hint. And if I can get the new Rick Bragg on it, all the better.

Posted by: matt elliott at June 4, 2008 11:45 AM

If you ever get your iron up to "acceptable" levels (I'm at about 1 success for every 3 tries), your cookies, juice, etc. are all free of WW points. My theory is that you've just given a pint of blood, for heaven's sake! You need to replenish that, and you're not going to do that without cookies and juice!

so there :-)

Posted by: Beth at June 4, 2008 1:25 PM

Ummm. *I* will write reviews for your blog for some cool free stuff. Really.

Posted by: Courtney at June 4, 2008 7:48 PM

1. I donate platelets for the Oreos (actually, you can have Oreos if donating just blood but I feel platelets entitles me to more Oreos)
2. California dried apricots taste like SUNSHINE not shoes. You must be eating Turkish aps (not a racist comment). I shall send you the info for a conversion experience.
3. Attempting to catalogue my dear, departed mother's book collection theoretically b/c - limited only by NYC apt - they will be sold [ha! I am looking at houses just for storage] When I got to the 200th cookbook, I stood up and saluted her. When I got to 302 I had a good laugh. I am not finished yet again, just w/the cookbooks which she read as travelogues, histories, memoirs. My dear departed dad even built her special hidden bookcases JUST FOR THE COOKBOOKS.

So I guess I understand the appeal of the book room in a purse, but still can't shake the real thing. I like the tactile quality and little bits and memories that fall from btwn the pages when you open a real, live book.

4. You are going to get me fired. Or rather, if I do, I'm blaming you. One cannot be discreet when laughing as hard as I do. Although when I try to silently laugh, I discovered a wheezing which led to an inhaler, so really I should thank you instead. Thank you Joshilyn. At least I know better than to drink anything while reading your blog. After all, it's a company laptop.

Posted by: ebethnyc at June 5, 2008 12:23 PM

Too cool. I want one too--Not the Sony reader- but a Scott-type techy can do husband. Willing to trade existing one in with a case of NutterButters.

Posted by: lindasands at June 6, 2008 9:41 AM

You may have just sold me on the Sony Reader. My boyfriend and I just bought a TINY condo (in a great location, I promise) and I've been stressing out about What To Do With All My Books. Currently some our in our storage unit, some are in boxes at my mom's, and some were painfully donated to charity (NEVER AGAIN. MY POOR, POOR LOST BOOKS). Maybe I could talk the bf into this purchase if I emphasize that it would mean the difference between wall to wall books in every room, or his precious, clutter-free neatness.

A few concerns:
I'm not sure if I'd miss the tactile nature of actually holding a paperback in hand. But maybe you get used to it?
The cost of the ebooks is higher than I thought it would be, considering you're not getting a physical book. And if I wanted to start replacing books I already own... holy $$$.
What if I break the reader? Can I back the books up somewhere for safety? I just drowned my precious ipod and that held mostly pirated music (I'll be honest) - I can't imagine my reaction if I killed the Sony after buying hundreds of dollars worth of ebooks. Eeeek.
Can you only buy ebooks for it from the Sony store? I did a cursory search and some of the titles I was looking for weren't there. Is there a cheaper/more comprehensive place to buy the books, or is this one of those things where if you buy the Sony Reader, you can only buy Sony ebooks?

Thanks a bunch to anyone who can shed some light... Between the reader, a cover and that first bulk purchase of books, this would be a big purchase for me right now, so I want to make sure I've got my info straight. :)

Posted by: Kimmers at June 12, 2008 9:54 AM