After a little over a year, it is time to take stock of our online book club and invite readers to join us as an individual or a group.
After one year that included 15 sessions covering 14 books, (we spent two sessions on a 500 pager) and one selection yet to be discussed I have a slightly altered view of the issue, e-book or traditional print. I still think both are viable options and the reasons remain, but these are modified by reality. Sometimes things are just the way they are and that’s the way they will be.
Our online book club has ten steady members. The breakdown between print and electronic readers is about 50/50. If the tie would be broken, I expect the print side would come out on top. Are there mitigating factors? Yes.
The selection of books has included a mixture of the old and the new. They include several that are being re-read after decades but with a new sense of meaning and enjoyment. The non-fiction selections were chosen for superior writing and quality of message. Choices for reading were intended to maintain interest and stimulate discussion. So far this seems to have been achieved.
Our group has an average age of 80+. They have been readers for more than 60 years holding a book and these entrenched ways are hard to change. Added to habit are the several good points raised by Bruce in the earlier piece, which appears below.
Since the breakdown is about 50/50 why call this an online book club? There are good reasons. First, if you are reading about this book club you are online. Second, and most important, all proceedings of the club are available online including current book, next book, previous book, and a listing of all books read. Moreover, each one of these books is presented with a cover picture, information about the author, brief review of contents, study questions, and an account of the group’s discussion of the book after reading.
The material online allows a reader anywhere to read along with our club as an individual and participate in the discussion by making a comment online. If a group wants to start a club of their own and read along with us, all the work is done for them ahead of time. The group at the end carries out their own discussion, and if they choose can submit it for inclusion, at least in part, with the online discussion.
Finally, for those people who wish to read a print book, these can be obtained used on Amazon books for as little as $1.01 with about $5.00 for postage. In our experience about one print book per two members works out well. This means the cost can be as little as $3.00 per month for each print reader.
Either way we hope you’ll get on board. If you have questions please contact us.
December 2019: Persuasion by Jane Austen
November 2019: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
October 2019: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
September 2019: Longitude by Dava Sobel
August 2019: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
July 2019: The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky
June 2019: The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan
May 2019: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
April 2019: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
March 2019: Testimonies by Patrick O’Brian
February 2019: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, PART II
January 2019: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, PART I
December 2018: The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilberg Clark
November 2018: My Antonia by Willa Cather
October 2018: The Europeans by Henry James
September 2018: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Bruce was definite when he declared his preference for print books. “I like the feel, you can slip in a book mark and know exactly where you are, I can go back easily and re-read something”, but he wasn’t done. “I can underline or highlight, I enjoy maps and pictures that are often omitted in the ebook version, I like seeing what I have read on the shelves of my library” and finally he admitted, “I just like books, is that enough”?
Agreeing with everything Bruce said, I admitted I read exclusively on an ebook, well almost. I wouldn’t choose to read a cookbook, a children’s book or even poetry, with an ebook and when I tried to find one of my favorite books online to re-read, “The Eloquent President”, it was not available in that form. There are more examples of these special cases and if you are an e-reader you have your own.
“Ok Bruce,” I said, “I will tell you why 90% of my reading is with an ebook.”
• E-books with rare exception are cheaper, on the order of 50% or more less than a current title in print form and this includes some that are free. The extra cost of the Kindle reader can be made up quickly.
• Font size can be enlarged. This is useful for seniors or those with impaired vision.
• Kindle screen lighting can be adjusted, and some have special screens for reading in sunlight.
• Every e-book weighs the same, on the order of ounces. Volume 3 of “The Last Lion”, a biography of Winston Churchill weighs several pounds. It looks great on the shelf but is difficult to hold for long periods.
• An e-book can be purchased anywhere with WiFi and almost any book, including the classics, is available, sometimes free, and often in several editions. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy can be purchased on Amazon in the Kindle version in seven different editions for as little as 99 cents and there is no shipping charge!
• Once downloaded and stored on the device, e-books or equivalent can be read anywhere and this includes using a tablet or iPad.
• My library shelves are full of books to look at and consult. There is no room on them for the more than 200 books on my Kindle.
The best part of this conundrum is there is no need for it. Books of enduring value can be read using an e-book with the option of buying a print copy for the shelf. For me this includes some non-fiction and bulky volumes.
Somewhere between, and special to me, are 22 volumes of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin novels. I have read them all twice and delivered a paper at the Literary Club on the life of the author. For me it is a comfort seeing them on my library shelves.
So there. You don’t have to make a choice. Instead use the best of both.
By Savvy Senior
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