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No more smudged fingers

Would You Cuddle Up With an E-reader?

Man Holding an Electronic Reader

— John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

A matter of preference

Perhaps the modern reader will simply choose the right medium for the situation at hand. Candace Talmadge, 55, of Lancaster, Texas, loves her Sony Reader for its convenience. She can use it to read books or PDF documents for work. But what she really wants is an e-reader that has the convenience of carrying around many documents in a small space but still has the feel of a book or magazine.

“People who tell you it’s too much like a computer—they’re right on,” says Talmadge, a syndicated political columnist and author of "The Scorpions Strike." “When I use it for work, I don’t have a problem with it. When I’m just reading for fun and pleasure, I would definitely prefer to read my novel in a tangible form.”

Talmadge says e-reader developers need to create the original reading experience with their devices, “only do it electronically and make it reasonably priced.”

Basbanes believes that the e-reader revolution has only just begun. He’s probably right. Condé Nast, the publishing powerhouse, and bookseller Barnes & Noble have their own devices in development. The Plastic Logic Reader, to be released in 2010, enables you to read newspapers, magazines and blogs and is thinner than a pad of paper, lighter than a magazine.

“But I believe that the novel, poetry, works of the imagination, really have a good life ahead of them in the conventional way,” Basbanes says. “I can’t think of any book of stature that has appeared strictly in digital form.”

Then again, like so many other bibliophiles, Basbanes simply prefers the old-fashioned book.

“One of my dearest friends, he almost apologized to me that his wife gave him a Kindle for Christmas,” Basbanes recalls. “I said, ‘James, we’ve been friends for a long time, enjoy it. You’re reading. That’s the number one important thing.’”

Cynthia Ramnarace writes about families and health from Rockaway Beach, N.Y.

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