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From moveable type to electronic images

May 12, 2016
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

I've been an avid fan of books since my first picture book so many, many years ago.

And, as I learned to read, I came to know characters from Nancy Drew to Capt. Ahab, from Fletcher Christian to Tom Sawyer. Within the pages of books waited legions of fascinating folks, ready to fill my imagination with their stories.

No matter what the season or the time of day or what was going on in the world around me, a book was my perfect companion from the moment I opened the cover until I slipped my bookmark in place.

Through the years, I gathered a small library of well-loved books. Wherever we lived, my late husband, George, made bookcases to fit into every nook and cranny to accommodate the collection.

Unfortunately, through the years my hands developed significant arthritic changes. Among the most noticeably painful activities became holding a book for long periods of time.

Fortunately, this is when the e-Book and e-Reader entered the scene.

Paperback books came into being in the 1930s, but few know that the concept for the electronic book came along at the same time. Writer and inventor Bob Brown watched his first "talkie" movie and wrote a book on his invention, the "readie" a take off on the talkie.

But it wasn't until 1998 that the concept began to catch on.

When I first heard of e-Books, I wanted nothing to do with them. After all, I thought, I'm a "purist." Give me books printed on paper. Forget this new fad of letters on a small screen.

But, as with all change, once again I learned the wisdom of "never say never." As my hands became more arthritic, the small, lightweight device that would still bring my book friends into my life began to look more and more interesting.

In 2007, Amazon launched the Kindle e-Book reader. Before long, the devices became more affordable, thus more attractive.

So, for my birthday in 2009, George bought me a Kindle. I bought one or two e-Books and never looked back.

These days, the Kindle and its library of e-Books are threatening to overwhelm me.

The problem is that daughter Becky, also an avid reader, has introduced me to a web site called This amazing treasure trove for readers sends daily e-mails offering e-Books priced from $2.99 down to FREE!

You can select any genre of interest: biography, history, westerns, romance. And any book you choose, from such popular booksellers as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, is delivered directly to your e-reader instantly.

The offers are so tempting that I have added a biography of Gandhi, a book on meditation, several mysteries, a couple of novels, two or three books of humor and a history of the presidency just in the last month.

After looking over the contents of my Kindle recently, I had a serious talk with my family. I made each of my loved ones promise that when I die, they'll bury the Kindle with me. That's the only way I'll find enough time to read all the books I've gathered.

I'm counting on heaven having lots of good reading corners.



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