Crawling Toward the Ether

Over the course of 2013, I've been slowly going the digital route to meet my entertainment needs. As I talked about yesterday, we got rid of cable. Whatever TV shows my wife and I watch, we get through an over-the-air HD antenna or watch through our Apple TV or via Amazon Prime Instant Video.

My big leap forward, though, was embracing e-books.  I'm a bit of late-bloomer on this one and stonewalled the switchover for a while, and for reasons that are rather vague and fuzzy for me now. E-book were kind of a hard line for me to cross, and one that I thought would never happen.  I'm a huge reader and I thought that the physical format was important.  Not as important as the story being told, mind you, but I liked the weight and presence of a good novel in hand and enjoy the sight of a well-stocked bookshelf.  I'm not a fan of reading off a computer screen, and thought that digital books would bring the same eye-strain with it.  Not so.  The kindle app for the iPad offers a really solid, pleasant reading experience, and, at the end of the day, the story is king and trumps the medium.  I don't really miss the heft or smell of a book, although I still frequently turn to the occasional physical book.  Twenty-one of the 45 books I've read this year have been digital, and I'm planning on getting through a few more before the year is out.  That said, I have an enormous library of both digital and traditional novels to read, but my favor has been quickly leaning towards digital and building up my virtual bookshelf.  Aside from ease of reading, the virtual shelf is nice because it doesn't take up any physical space.  When you follow multiple series, like Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch or Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Tom Clancy's or Vince Flynn's body of work, physical shelf space can be hard to come by.

What's really impressed me so far is the Comixology app.  Although I still buy a bevy of trades and the occasional omnibus collection, digital comics have been a real joy to discover.  Being able to zoom in on panels and using guided view to work through a narrative is a terrific breakthrough.  Again, it has the benefits of a virtual shelf and saves on physical space constraints, which can become severally limited for comic collectors used to acquiring long boxes and frequently needing new bookshelves, or rooms, to store titles and series collections.  Since a lot of modern comic book art is produced digitally, either whole cloth or through digital coloring, it translates wonderfully to digital apps and carries some real vibrancy and impact on a high-def display.  Saga is a nice example of this, and the work of Fiona Staples looks amazing on an iPad, as does the work of Sara Pichelli in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Even older, classic pencil and ink works, like The Dark Knight Returns, carry over well to the digital medium.

It's been a rather quick adaptation to the digital sphere for me.  A year ago, I scoffed at the idea.  Now, nearly half of everything I read is done on an iPad.  In another year, I'll probably have gone almost completely digital, particularly when it comes to novels, and I wouldn't feel all that surprised to find myself phasing out most physical mediums entirely.

Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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