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My E-Reading Life: Greetings from New Contributor
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  • August 2, 2012
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parentshouseHello, everyone. Those of you who’ve been following e-reading for a while might know me as former Senior Writer for TeleRead.com, where I’ve been for the last six years. I talked a little about the history of e-reading that happened during the six years I was writing there in my farewell post to the site.

For my inaugural post here, I thought I would go into my own personal e-reading background and what my hopes are for the future of e-books. Once you know where I’ve come from, then you can follow where I’m going. Let’s begin.

”Damn fashion technology.” Those are the words that ushered in my love affair with digital reading devices. (I had actually been involved in digital reading (and writing) from computer screens for several years, thanks to several Internet writing circles I participated in, but that’s another story.) I can no longer remember the exact circumstances, but I know that Salon Magazine’s 1998 article on the Palm Pilot impressed the heck out of me.

Here was a little hand-held green glowy gizmo that could contain words. Lots and lots of words. And it wasn’t just a toy—an unnamed professional SF editor used it to help get work done. If it was good enough for him, why couldn’t it be good enough for me? It was a few months before I was able to get one of my very own, but very soon a Palm IIIe, whose memory chips could hold an unimaginably large 2 whole megabytes, was mine. (I’d already bought my first commercial e-book from Peanut Press: Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, which occupied fully 2/5 of my Palm’s memory all by itself!)

Then I realized that I had ordered too soon, because just a couple of months later the ultra-cool Handspring Visor Deluxe was available—and I had to have it! It had 8 megabytes, and expansion slot…and most importantly of all, it looked like the hand-held gadget Dean Stockwell was always whacking on Quantum Leap. For a time, I actually kept and used both devices, with the help of a ridiculous gizmo called the Happy Hacker Cradle that let me attach a full-sized PS2 keyboard to the IIIe. I carried it around to my college classes and took notes on it, to the general distraction of all around me. (Eventually sold it to one of my friends and kept the Visor, which I used with one of those little folding laptop-style keyboards.)

And I really loved them both! It’s hard to imagine now, given that the 160

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