An eBook is, as you might expect, a book that has either been written entirely in an e-mail client or written in the normal fashion (one hand on a typewriter, the other on a handgun pressed against the author's temple, left foot on the clutch, right foot on the gas) then electrified with something that looks like the machine from Honey I Shrunk The Kids.

Like MP3s before them, eBooks existed long before publishers embraced the format and proprietary devices were created to lock users into specific storefronts. Of course, most eBooks were nestled away on eastern European file sharing sites, riddled with formatting errors, protected with passwords that could only be found by voting for porn password sites. After jumping through all those hoops, your book almost always turned out to be a mislabeled copy of the surprisingly lengthy George Foreman Grill manual.

Now that J.K. Rowling has reluctantly agreed to release the Harry Potter series in eBook format and there are television commercials for reading devices, eBooks are actual things.

Choosing A Reader

There are two types of eBook reader displays, E Ink and LCD.

Because it doesn't use backlight, E Ink is essentially a very advanced Etch-A-Sketch that somehow recreates the effect of looking at print on paper without using twiddly knobs or radioactive sand. This, in addition to the fact that the screen only uses power while turning a page, means that a fully-charged battery will last for more than a week of continuous use. Possibly less if you have a large collection of eFlip Books.

LCD screens create more eyestrain, drain batteries at an exponentially faster rate, and don't resemble real books in the slightest. The iPad, however, is a portable Apple product, so most people won't care.

If you do decide to go with a dedicated E Ink reader, your best options are Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Choosing the right one comes down to figuring which features are most important to you.

 Amazon KindleB&N Nook
Comes With A Scoop Of Ice Cream In The BoxNoNo
Capable Of Suppressing Its EmotionsNoNo
Lets Speed Readers Know That Watching A Movie In Fast Forward Isn't Impressive EitherNoNo
Specifically Guaranteed To Not ExplodeNoNo
Inner Workings Can Be Explained Without Use Of The Word "Magic"NoNo

Finding Books

Do not seek out anyone's opinion while searching for new books. You will have a hundred percent chance of running into one of the two most insufferable types of book snobs.

Booksnob Alpha only reads scientific, historical, and mathematical reference books and goes out of his or her way to let absolutely everyone know about it. Ask Booksnob Alpha for a recommendation, and in the best case scenario they might admit that they tried to read fiction once, but couldn't get very far because they kept thinking about how much time they were wasting on things that weren't real.

Booksnob Beta only reads fiction by Proust, Nabokov, and occasionally something trashy such as Pynchon or Shakespeare. In their mind, it is impossible for a person to read Lolita and an 800-page sci-fi/fantasy book and enjoy both for entirely different reasons. There can only be the literary greats. Anyone that strays too far must be mocked.

So where do you turn for new reading material? I suggest waiting a few weeks for the release of my first novel:


Adjusting to an eBook reader isn't all that difficult, but to make the transition easier keep the following in mind:

  • Unlike books, eReaders cannot be read under water without some form of protective casing. They can, however, be read within the flames of a terrible fire.
  • The words go from left to right and march down the page towards the bottom. Blast them all before they overwhelm your spaceship!
  • While waiting for a newly purchased book to download, stave off boredom by counting to nine hundredths of a second.
  • Pressing the button on the side of your device advances to the next page. Pressing the flashing red Plutonium Core Discharge button just below it does nothing.
  • You'll probably have a lot of people making a big fuss when you read in public, gawking at the device in your hand. Just shoo them away with an impatient wave of the pipebomb.

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell (@DennisFarrell)

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