The Drawing Of The Reader – Andy Burns On HD-DVD’s, eReaders, and The Dark Tower

A few weeks ago our friend and Biff Bam Pop contributor JP paid me a very fine compliment after I started raving about the Sony Reader the Queen purchased for me over the holiday season. Though this isn’t a direct quote, what JP basically said was that he liked the fact that I’m usually the first of his friends who is trying out the new technology.

I thought that was nice of him to say, and he did it without reminding me that I jumped on the HD bandwagon at the time when HD-DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s were waging what should have been an epic battle. I vividly recall standing in a used game shop in downtown Toronto, on the phone and asking the man’s advice.

“Should I get this used HD add-on player to my X-Box?” I asked JP, with the snow dropping from the sky like so much snow dropping from the sky.

“Don’t do it!” he emphatically replied. “Wait it out! You don’t want to buy the Beta.”

I should have listened to the man. And to his credit, he rarely brings it up. Not even when he’s over at the house to watch a Blu-Ray.


Why the trip down memory lane? Well, it’s two fold. The first is the coming iPad, which seems so enticing to so many of us. But I’ll leave that for JP to explore in the coming days,

Instead, I want to rave about the Reader. If you haven’t heard of a Reader or a Kindle, those are electronic devices that utilize electronic ink to read novels which you can purchase from any number of online retailers. The Kindle is Amazon’s exclusive eReader and it’s the one that’s taken the world by storm. You can find all the logistics about that elsewhere online. The one I’m using is Sony’s Pocket Reader, which I would consider to be the iPod Nano of the eReader world. It’s smaller than either the Kindle or some of Sony’s other products, but it suits my needs perfectly. Here’s how I know.

When I received my Reader the big question on my mind was, what am I going to read first? An old favourite or something totally brand new? Would it be one novel or would I delve into a series? Did I want to commit to multiple titles? What if I hated using the reader?

So many questions. But after perusing various sites (for my Canadian peeps, is the way to go for your ebook purchases) it suddenly dawned on me what I wanted to do. How I wanted to test the worth of the reader. Three words.

The Dark Tower.


The Dark Tower is considered by many to be Stephen King’s magnum opus, his Lord Of The Rings. 7 books that tell the tale of the last Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, on his quest to find The Dark Tower. It took King roughly 30 years to complete the series. While I’d read the first three years ago, I never completed The Dark Tower. And while I’d tried to start at the beginning a few times, I was never quite drawn back in. But with the Reader in my possession and a daily commute that begs for book reading, I decided to embark upon my own quest. I would complete The Dark Tower.

Now, I’m not there yet. My quest began roughly four weeks ago. But in those four weeks, I’ve read the equivalent of nearly 1,000 pages. Sure, I may not be turning pages, instead pushing buttons, but I’m reading nonstop every day. And when I finish one book midway through a trip, I have another book waiting for me on the Reader (it holds upwards of 350 books – a little portable library) . It’s an amazing way to read a book. Will it replace the tactile experience – well, that’s hard to say. I’ve got a whole bunch of actual books that I’m looking forward to cracking open (King’s mammoth Under The Dome being one of them), but I have no intention of schlepping that on the subway. But I also don’t see myself using the Reader at home, at least not while I’ve got a regular commute going on.

For now, though, I say viva la reader! It’s given me hours of reading pleasure already. And I’ve still got four more books to go.


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