If you like books and you exist in any form on the Internet, then I’m sure you’ve heard of CoverSpy. If you haven’t, CoverSpy is a tumblr by Slice Magazine that goes out into the world and records what people are actually reading on subways, streets, parks, etcetera, etcetera. It’s a lot of fun to see what people are reading in public, especially when they’re reading something that you yourself like. But when CoverSpy reports a Kindle without a title or author, you can feel kind of… rebuffed by your fellow reader, even if you can kind of get where they’re coming from.
I’ve never been shy about toting a book I’m reading out and about, unless the cover features nudity or anything you would only find in an R-rated movie. My parents were always much more shy about this. As a kid, I was always rereading the same books I could forage out of my parents’ collections over and over again. (Yes, the Literary Omnivore did not discover the wonder of public libraries until shamefully well into high school.) One of these books was a copy of Dave Barry’s Dave Barry is Not Taking This Sitting Down, which features a picture of the author seated on a toilet in the middle of the street. Now, Barry is clearly wearing boxers (the traditional cartoonish heart boxers) and not actually using the toilet, but my mother would still tell me to leave the book at home, often while I was elbow-deep in my latest reread at the Atlanta Bread Company. (We used to eat there a lot, come to think of it.) It didn’t stick, and I bring my reading with me everywhere I go.
But I never really considered using digital books to disguise what I’m reading until last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live (which I’ve not actually finished), which featured an Amazon Mother’s Day ad spoof focused around Fifty Shades of Grey. (You know you’ve made it when…) The ad ends by boasting about how, on a Kindle, no one knows what you’re reading. It had just never occurred to me; technically, no one can see what I’m reading on my phone or when I’m listening to my iPod, but, for the most part, I happily read in public. And while I do see the value of being able to disguise your reading while out and about, I think it can also mean a reader misses out on those chance encounters that books can provide.
In the student center last semester, I ran across a girl wielding Banewreaker from the public library. I stopped to talk to her and tell her just how amazing The Sundering is, and she got even more excited for the duet. If it had been on her Kindle, we would have never had had that encounter. Reading can often be a solitary art, so reading in public is a way you can signal to other readers. Of course, I don’t want to ignore people who don’t want to be bothered when they read and use it as a shield in public, but I know I’ve never felt discouraged from walking up to someone and telling them how much I just love Michael Chabon. And that really can’t happen on a Kindle.
I moved out of college this week, I took the GRE on Friday, and I watched my seniors graduate yesterday morning. It’s been a bit rough emotionally for me, is what I’m saying. I have managed to get through Benighted and The Valley of Fear this week, as well as starting on The Ecstasy of Influence.
Kristen at Fantasy Book Cafe as the Newsflesh trilogy until Wednesday. She’s also giving away two copies of Bitterblue until Tuesday. Lu at Regular Rumination is giving away a copy of Bitterblue and a totebag until Tuesday, too. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) Small Beer Press offers several of their books as free downloads, including Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners. If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!