Paper or Digital

I travel for work, and I travel a lot, so finding lightweight options to schlepping around books is a current point of research for me. When it comes to technology, I have the spectacularly worst timing. By the time I finally convince myself to invest in a new piece of technology, the newer, better, shiner version with more bells, whistles, and whatnot shows up weeks (or even days) later. This has been a curse that I have struggled with since college. Either I simply have a massive case of poor timing, or I wait too long, hoping something better will come along. The epic question of saving up for a rainy day versus carpe techno wages continually in my head, but for some reason, I simply cannot work out the formula.

{Technology Woes}

The prime example is my NOOK. No sooner did I invest in an e-reader, the newer version was released (with a lower price tag), and six months later the full color version followed. I love the e-ink and lack of backlit screen, but it cannot do a fraction of all the nifty tricks it’s later incarnations can. There are times while I am traveling when I have down time or I find a lovely cafe to snuggle up in, and the only thing that would make the mood better would be a book or a magazine. I’ve resorted to taking snapshots of book covers, scanning bar codes, and making text memos of all the books I want to read, but I have yet to crack a single spine in the paper or digital sense. I used to linger around the nook display every time I went to B&N, but now when I visit, I simply pass by out of frustration.

In 2007, I purchased my first Mac platform computer, and transitioned my files from throughout my time in Japan, weaving them into compatible formats and filing system. A year or so ago, I jumped the gun in preparation for an online graduate school program I had certainly thought I would gain admission. I invested in a HP 110 Mini netbook as OsX was not an acceptable platform for this particular program. I reasoned the purchase would also get me out of the door, and into society to write and explore. Limited office workspace also persuaded me into making the investment, as I could not comfortably work side-by-side with another person using the same 15” brick of a laptop we were issued. Initially, I thought the netbook was a solid investment, until it started running slow, freezing up, and couldn’t perform simple tasks like changing the wallpaper without a steeplechase’s worth of menu to navigate. This was overly optimistic on my part, and I wound up unraveling that tidy sweater with the purchase of the netbook. Files for work quickly took the spotlight instead of my writing and studies, and now I am stuck with another piece of technology that I am hesitant to part with (defunct battery and molasses slow processor included).

Several of my friends have made the leap and added the iPad to their tech cache in addition to their iPhones. Yet, I hesitate. I think my greatest concern is file management within the device; particularly photos and music. The largest obstacle at this juncture is the price tag. Until I can soundly purchase the item without buyer’s remorse or stretching my budget to the breaking point, I cannot bring myself to drop the money. Looking toward the summer, I think I would like to treat myself to one after clearing my six-month probation on May 17. This would give me time to save, research further, and hopefully sniff out the potential date of when the next generation of the device will be released.

{Magazine Hoarding}

I have several magazine subscriptions, and a venerable pile of glossies are starting to take over my bedroom at home in my absence. It’s not that I don’t want take Spa, Marie Claire, BUST, Women’s Health, or Runner’s World with me, I just don’t want to leave them anywhere. The other challenge is picking which ones to take and which ones to leave behind. It can be more stress than it’s worth (and added weight is the last thing my suitcases need, and if you’ve ever recycled a ton of magazines in one go, you know that heft is an issue). More and more magazines are releasing digital editions (some costing more than their eco-unfriendly counterparts), but finding an universal reader is the key.

I have visited Zinio on countless occasions, making my wish list of digital magazines, but I have yet to actually buy anything. I do like that they have access to international magazines, but most of the ones I read in the US disqualify the need for the import versions (as I learned from picking up Runner’s World UK, and found many recycled articles). One benefit of Zinio is that they provide multiple formats for magazines, which include reading on desktop or laptop platforms. This could delay my urge to invest in an iPad for the time being, as I could have access to some of the features without dropping nearly $500 on another piece of tech. I have been hesitant to invest in the digital versions, as I still have well over a year on most of my paper subscriptions. Necessity is quickly conspiring with Practicality to over rule Logic in this particular argument.

OverDrive has been an electrifying way to obtain access to my local libraries while away from home. Thankfully, this program is also available for laptops and desktops, so it is an additional deterrent from dropping too much money too quickly. I am looking forward to having access to not only books, but audiobooks and music, too. (Now, if only I could find my library card, so I could check items out!) This option truly makes me miss working at the University of Florida because I am certain their online collection is far more extensive than any of the local libraries here in Queens.

{Fly Girls Read}

Abandoned books. Forgotten magazines. Discarded newspapers. Library fines. Luggage space. Each are valuable in their own respect, but living a commuter lifestyle encourages me to take the bare necessities and go. Passing libraries, bookstores, and newsstands are always hard because something inevitably catches my eye– a headline, a bestseller, or a favorite celebrity on the cover. My eyes linger briefly, longingly, but I know I cannot take them with me. It is not a matter of time (though admittedly, I am a little backlogged at the moment), but space. Currently, I split my time between south Florida (where I live), and New York City (where I work). At home, I have a room of my own, but I in my commuter place, space is at a premium, so selectivity is the key.

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to read more, like I did when I worked at the boarding school. I loved sitting outside on a beautiful day, lazying by the pool, or thawing out at a local coffee shop with something to stimulate my brain cells. Since my career change, I have been looking at more practical ways to continue enjoying my life on a tighter budget. I feel that developing a proper action plan, may help curb some impulse shopping, especially when I am killing time at the airports or wandering aimlessly on my layovers. Developing a rhythm can be essential to lifestyle stability, but sometimes it makes me complacent. I start procrastinating on my projects, especially my writing, as a result. I need to be smart and savvy without sacrificing my happiness.

I have been evaluating this situation for several weeks now, and the simplest solution besides doing without, would be to invest in an iPad once my budget permits. Many in my field carry them purely for the simplicity and slim profile, as it’s easier to wield through the security lines. My primary processing platform is Mac OsX Lion, so it would be nice to finally take strides into transitioning all my items into a single platform. I no longer game, and my current employment does not require Windows processing capabilities. For reading, I enjoy using OverDrive, nook, and Zinio. Additionally, I would be able to access other applications I frequently use on my iPhone such as WordPress, InstaGram, Pinterest, GoodReads, and Flickr with greater ease.

{Bottom Line}

Being tied to a single corporate platform limits my ability to access to eBooks from online libraries or all the fancy new digital version of magazines. This has resulted in the longing for an iPad has become viral. I don’t like laying with my laptop in bed or on the couch. I feel like I am too relaxed to work, and guilty for working when I am supposed to be relaxing. Unplugging had become increasingly harder, especially when the computer is my main means of schedule adjustment. Finding a consistent platform for all my writing, photography, and personal files has been a challenge, as I have been using dual platforms over the last ten years without fully committing to Apple or Windows.

I love books, but with my current situation, the last thing I need is to start accumulating books. One day, I will have a nest of my own where I can build the library I always wanted, but in the intermediary, creativity will need to become my ally.

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4 comments

  1. Rusty · January 6, 2012

    There will always be a newer and better piece of technology coming out. In my own case, I’ve actively worked to curb my desire for the latest and greatest but asking myself a few questions: (1) Does this device still run the software I want in the way it did when I bought it? (2) What are the specific tasks I want to accomplish but can’t? (3) Are there any inexpensive or free workarounds to fill in the missing functionality? (4) How much would it cost me to not worry about this again for 5-6 years?

    I tend to spend a bit more on my devices as a result, but the added product life ends up to be a net savings.

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    • Kahren · January 6, 2012

      Rusty, you’ve helped me with my continual battle against the Cyberdyne over the last ten years, and I am so thankful. I tend to go on the higher end when I invest in technology, too, but I need to be smarter about which devices I buy. Looks like I’ll need to do a little more homework. 😉

      Like

  2. lmring · January 6, 2012

    I have a hard time leaving traditional media behind. Newspapers, books and magazines are a tactile experience for me as much as anything else, so I have not felt the need to buy an eReader. In your situation, however, eReaders and iPads are ideal, but you’re right – they are awfully expensive for what they are. Single platform is certainly the best way to go – good for you for being a Mac girl!

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    • Kahren · January 6, 2012

      Laurel, if I had a library within close proximity, I would do my best to get over there and check out a book. The hardest thing is with all the libraries in Queens, none of them are easily accessible currently. I would love a place where I could build a reading corner, like my uncle used to have, but I would need a permanent home before I could seriously consider that possibility. ;D

      Like

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