I've mentioned before, here and in comments on other blogs, that I don't use an e-reader. I bought a Nook a couple of years ago, in anticipation of downloading all the free classics available through Google Books and Project Gutenberg. But though I happily crammed it full of books (eight by Charlotte M. Yonge alone), I found it very difficult to read them. The lines and lines of text don't hold my attention like words on a page do. I'd quickly lose interest and go off to look for a "real" book. Two years later, I still haven't read a single book on it.
All that has changed, thanks to my new smart phone. I got it two weeks ago, in preparation for a trip, so that I could access my work email while I was out of the office. When I was in the Verizon store, the very helpful salesman told me that they had some Samsung tablets that they were giving away that day. There were still a couple left, and he asked if I wanted one. At first, I thought I didn't. The smart phone was a big step for me, and an expensive one, and I wasn't sure I needed a tablet too. But it's free, he kept repeating. And finally I thought, well, if it's free (which it was, but there's a small monthly fee).
I was playing around with the smart phone, feeling a bit dumb as I tried to work things out, when I stumbled into Google Play Books. And there were a few that I had downloaded, back when I first got the Nook, including Emily Eden's Letters from India and Miss Eden's Letters. I had found them impossible to read because the e-text was badly garbled, with footnotes randomly appearing in the middle of unrelated pages. But in Play Books, as you may know, they are scanned texts, so they look like real books, with pages that "turn" as I read. I immediately started Miss Eden's Letters, though I'd have sworn I'd never read a book on a phone (with a small screen and my bad eyesight). I was thrilled to discover that they look even better on the tablet, and I've been happily downloading even more "books" to my virtual library. I've also started Sara Jeannette Duncan's An American Girl in London, another text that was hopelessly garbled on the Nook. (This book has apparently become so rare that it isn't available through interlibrary loan.)
I've downloaded some of the Gutenberg and Girlebooks books(?files?) as well, but they are the straight lines of text. I think it's the look of actual books in the Google versions, with their margins and pages, not to mention their illustrations, which makes them so easy for me to read. Perhaps reading them will help me transition to the other kind of e-books. I hope so, since most of Charlotte Yonge's works are in that format. But in the meantime, I have a virtual stack to look forward to. And years after everyone else, I feel like I've finally joined the 21st-century reading revolution. Just in time, too, because between new reading glasses and a senior discount that I didn't ask for (and don't qualify for), I was definitely feeling a bit of a relic.