Bookbanter Column: Diary of an Ereader, Part One: An Introduction

In the latter months of 2012 I joined a quickly growing population that just five years ago barely existed: I got myself an ereader.

As a writer and reviewer for well over a decade, I definitely got the sense — especially when I was a bookseller for Borders handselling ereaders — that there was this great flowing train of technology shooting by me, as everyone seemed to be getting and using ereaders, with new upgraded versions coming out every six months, and then the iPad arrived which was just better than anything else.

And there I was standing at the station, watching this train with all these new passengers getting on, but I didn’t have a ticket to this ereader train because it was too expensive.

I’m very much a hardcover or paperback or even mass market kind of guy.

I like the feel of a real book, be it a brand new hardcover that cracks open as you open it for the first time with that fresh smell.


Upcoming Bookbanter Ebook Giveaway

Starting May 13th, I will running an ebook giveaway for that week for a chance to win a Kindle ebook copy of Pirates of Pensacola by Keith Thomson.  The giveaway will run from Monday, May 13th to Sunday, May 19th.  On the following Monday, May 20th, I will announce the winner.  To enter, you simply have to leave a comment on the giveaway post that will go up on Monday, May 13th.  So mark your calendars!

And here’s some more info about Pirates of Pensacola:

Praise for Pirates of Pensacola:

“A swashbuckling parody, Pirates of Pensacola is a fine, breezy read filled with laugh-out-loud scenes and high seas drama.” —Richard Zacks, bestselling author of The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd

“With rum, eye patches, peg legs, and a wisecracking parrot in need of a twelve-step program, Pirates of Pensacola blends all the conventions of the pirate genre and creates a novel of comic genius and originality. Keith Thomson is a shrewd and funny writer with a big future ahead of him.” —Linda Fairstein, New York Times bestselling author

“Set in modern times, Pirates of Pensacola follows our poor, nebbishly accountant hero into a life of waterlogged crime on the high seas. [Keith Thomson is the] best emerging comic novelist for a good long while, with touches of classic Rafael Sabatini and the most imaginative Hiaasen.”
—Jeff Danziger, political cartoonist with The New York Times syndicate and author of Rising Like The Tucson

Pirates of Pensacola simultaneously thrills and endears itself with every explosively charged page.” —Richard Rushfield, author of On Spec

Reviews for Pirates of Pensacola:

“With its various oceangoing lowlifes, swashbuckling heroics and quirky humor, Pirates of Pensacola reads like a collaboration between Robert Louis Stevenson, Dave Barry and Douglas Adams after a night on the town.” —The Oregonian

“[Thomson] writes fluid, vivid prose, good dialogue and first-rate action scenes.” —The Washington Post

“Thomson’s beguiling, energetic debut. Crowned with buccaneer vernacular, plenty of colorful extras and a feel-good ending, it’s a vivid adventure tale befitting the high seas of Hollywood.” —Publishers Weekly

“Thomson’s rollicking debut, a tall, fanciful tale…throws us headlong into a world of peg-legged sea dogs and hidden treasure.” —Kirkus

“Thomson mixes a hodgepodge of odd characters, varieties of pirate-speak, and a short history of buccaneers in the area of the Caribbean into an oddball story replete with humor, love, and lots of adventure. There’s lots of swashbuckling action; a romance; and a scene-stealing, rum-seeking parrot. Fun, entertaining, and light, the story produces lots of smiles and more than a few laughs. —School Library Journal, Adult/High School, by Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

“Brilliantly clever and funny, Keith Thomson has done a remarkable job creating a world that will ring familiar to many pirate enthusiasts. It’s a fascinating, edgy, wonderful glimpse at the pirate utopia of our dreams.” —Pirates and Privateers (

“Devilishly charming and a real pirate treat.” —The Jolly Roger Pirate Journal

Bookbanter Column: Diary of an Ereader, Part One: An Introduction

In the latter months of 2012 I joined a quickly growing population that just five years ago barely existed: I got myself an ereader.

I like the feel of a real book, be it a brand new hardcover that cracks open as you open it for the first time with that fresh smell.


  1. Printed books sales, both hardcover and paperback, had one of their best selling seasons in years.
  2. Nook ereader sales were terrible and way down.

A lot of people still like printed books.  A lot of people are still going to keep buying printed books.

And if they did stop making printed books tomorrow, the industry of used books would still continue to live on alive and well for a long time until every used book was but a shattered binding of crumbling pages.

And, as I began this column, admit that I now own an ereader, a Kobo Glo in fact, and have a number of books I am reviewing on there (which I will discuss in Part Two of this series).

I enjoy ereading very much, I like the portability, ease of use, being able to do things like eat at the same time and just use a finger swipe to turn the page instead of having to jam a book open with one hand and fumble with a sandwich in the other.

There is the additional advantage of being able to download books and start reading right away, instead of having to wait for a delivery.  And with the Kobo Glo, the added ease of being able to read in the dark with the ereader light turned on.

And yet, for all the advantages that ereaders present to readers in making reading easier, more efficient, more optimal, more simplified; giving you the most out of your reading with the littlest effort on the part of the reader, it hasn’t replaced my print book reading by any means.

After enjoying the frivolities of ereading for over four months, I still read at least two to three print books to every ebook I read.  I generally use my ereader on my lunches at work, or when I have a short period of time to do some quick reading, but it in no way replaces sitting down in a comfortable chair with a real book in my hands to read.

I can tell this specific dueling between print books and ebooks will be something I will continue to discuss in this “Diary of an Ereader” series, and one could make the claim that perhaps in some years time I may switch over to reading ebooks more.  I cannot predict the future, but at the moment I’m perfectly satisfied with my ereader, and enjoy ereading on it, but it still doesn’t beat the glossy texture of a dust-jacket, the rough shushing of the pages, and the unique smell of the printed word on the paper page.

Originally published on Forces of Geek.

Book Report: Digital Library of America Opens, Murakami Gets Reviewed, Handwritten Bible & More

My So-Called ‘Post-Feminist’ Life in Arts and Letters 
Deborah Copaken Kogan on her experience and career as a writer.

Booksellers Helping Booksellers 
Independent bookstores working together and helping each other however they can.

Man Unveils Handwritten Bible 

A man has handwritten a 1150-page bible.

Kobo Aura 
Kobo as launched a new ereader that is supposed to be one of the best to get for easy ereading.


“The Casual Vacancy” by J. K. Rowling (Little, Brown, 2012)

The Casual Vacancy

After the unfathomable success of the Harry Potter series, with over 450 million copies sold worldwide, likely making it one of the biggest phenomena of our lifetimes, J. K. Rowling is now back with her first new book in five years.  She now turns to a much more adult story about a quaint little English town where everything is most certainly not as it seems.

In the idyllic west country town of Pagford, where things pass at their own pace and everything stays pretty much the same, a change is about to happen.  A respected citizen of the community, Barry Fairbrother suffers a sudden brain aneurysm and dies unexpectedly.  It is a very sad time for the family and for the community, as he touched many lives during his time, as well as being an important member of the town’s council.  But Barry’s passing is also the lighting of a spark that sets off an explosive chain reaction, as the empty space on the town council starts many wondering who should fill his seat, and a number of unlikely candidates come out of the woodwork.

The Casual Vacancy is also the story about a number of the characters of this community, and how they begin to act and react when this person who had an effect on their lives is gone and is no longer there to provide aid and advice.  The book is by no means a happy novel, as these characters make terrible decisions that lead them down a downward spiral of despair.  By the end of the book, the reader is left hoping their might be some sort of cathartic uplift, but Rowling is going for a harsh true-to-life approach here, where things don’t all of a sudden get magically better.

Overall the book comes off as a letdown, slow and dragging at points, with nothing to drive the reader along to keep reading, as things get worse and worse for just about everyone it seems.  Rowling is perhaps pulling from some earlier experiences in her life before her fame and riches, as there are characters dealing with drug addiction, poverty, marital problems, and a whole host of unsavory issues.  The book also comes off somewhat amateurish, as Rowling constantly references many places throughout this imaginary town that confuse the reader, and could have easily been aided with a handy map at the beginning of the book.  Then there is the large host of characters, featuring many couples of about the same age, some even with the same first letters of their names, which often makes things confusing, and could’ve been helped with a simple cast list.  Finally, there is the constantly switching P.O.V. from paragraph to paragraph, without any break in between, so that the reader becomes quite untethered and lost at times.

The Casual Vacancy was an experiment by Rowling in seeing what happens to a town when an important member dies and all the people he’d had an effect on begin making bad decisions that then effect the rest of the town.  By the end of the book the reader is sad over the events of the book, though Rowling makes it clear that if any of the characters had made the decision to not think of themselves for a moment and to notice that nearby person suffering and help them, things would have come out quite differently.  But because this social message is buried in the clunky format and pitfalls of the book with no satisfactory resolution, the reader is left wondering what was the point of reading this book to the last page.

Originally written on January 8, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Casual Vacancy from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Gold Rush in the Jungle: The Race to Discover and Defend the Rarest Animals of Vietnam’s ‘Lost World'” by Dan Drolette Jr. (Crown, 2013)

Gold Rush in the Jungle

There is a secret in this world, a very important one that may disappear before we even know it was there.  Vietnam is a nation filled with history and culture, but it is also a unique haven to some of the rarest animals on the planet; it is also one of the few places in this world where new species of fauna continue to be discovered.  Gold Rush in the Jungle is the story of this most unique place.

Dan Drolette Jr. has been a quasi-naturalist; a nature and animal lover since he was a child, discovering a fascination and continuing with it throughout his life.  He has written for publications such as Scientific American, Cosmos, Science, Boston Globe, and Natural History.  His travels have taken him exploring and writing about flora and fauna as far and wide as Hawaii, Sweden, South Korea and Australia.  Drolette Jr. first went to Vietnam in the late nineties and knew he had to return to study and write about his special place, which he did.  Gold Rush in the Jungle is the culmination of all this work.

Vietnam’s jungles have remained relatively untouched, going through a turbulent history and a devastating war; ironically this has led to a somewhat protected habitat for its many species and plans. It has held back development and the advancement of civilization into the jungles, allowing the many animals to live in peace and multiply.  But since the nineties, things have gone quickly downhill.  With the rapid growth in animal trophies, and the use of animal parts as widely disproven medicines in china, poaching has become a very big business.

Fortunately, there are those who are fighting against this, starting up conservation groups and protected places in Vietnam, as well as national parks, one created as long ago as the 1960s with Ho Chi Minh.  It is a very moving story, to see how animals like certain bears are barely kept alive to have their bile surgically removed, or the rhinoceros that used to inhabit these jungles and can no longer be found.  Drolette Jr. goes into the history of this country, talking about certain rare animals that have since gone extinct, but there is still hope that one day they may resurface from these dense ecosystems.

Fans of Jared Diamond’s Collapse and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth will love Gold Rush in the Jungle, with Drolette Jr.’s easy to read style that sucks you in, opens your eyes, and educates you with ideas and thoughts you have likely never had.  It is a powerful story of a very real place that is like no other, and will stay with you long after you have read the last page.

Originally written on February 26, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Gold Rush in the Jungle from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: Best Endings, Nook Press, Occupy, Broken Hugos & More!

E.U. Clears Random House-Penguin Merger 
The European Union has approved the merger between the two publishing giants, Random House and Penguin Putnam.

Kobo Ebook Sales Dwarf Google 
While Indie bookstore sales haven’t been exactly stellar, Kobo ebooks are selling better than Google ebooks.

Interview with Mary Roach 
Goodreads interviews Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff and Bonk, about her recent book, Gulp.

Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-reading 
A new form of software that tracks if students are doing their e-reading homework.