The Time I Bought My Friend an E-book

A Very Modern Adventure

I bought a print copy of a new novel recommended by my book club. I remembered my friend had purchased an electronic book reader, so I bought an electronic copy of the same novel for him, and…

I reminded him that one electronic book selling company two years ago decided to take a book back from its customers, and without their permission, it had entered their e-readers and simply taken the book back. My friend says he is not worried because they swore they would never do this again, but admitted the technology to do this not only still exists, but is even better today. I told him my copy is on the large book shelf in my office at home. If any book seller decides to come and take one of my copies back, they will answer to my twenty gauge shot gun.

We went to a funky coffee shop to start reading and I spilled coffee on my copy of the novel and it dirtied the cover. The hot coffee hit my friend’s leg and he spilled his coffee on his e-reader and it short circuited and died.

He bought another e-book reader and we went to our book club, each with our respective copies of the new novel. I dropped my book quite by accident from a third story balcony during the meeting. I did it for dramatic effect to make a point about a poorly constructed character. I went outside and picked it up and it read just fine. My friend had had a few glasses of book club wine and as I was retrieving my print copy, he leaned too far over the railing and dropped his from the same height and we went outside again and picked up the pieces.

He bought another e-book reader. We went on a month long trip into an area that has no electricity. I brought ten books, and yes their weight was noticeable. Knowing his battery would probably run down on the e-reader he bought to replace the other two that were destroyed with coffee and being dropped, he also bought a portable solar battery charger and it weighed more than three times the weight of my ten books and cost $700.

Flying back to civilization, I was reading the last few pages of the novel in preparation for our next book club meeting as the plane prepared to take off. The steward came and told my friend to turn his e-book reading device off. And it had to stay off until the captain said he could turn it on. And he meant business the third time he told my friend to turn it off. We were delayed on the runway for an hour, and the captain did not allow electronic devices until we were up into the air.

When we got back to San Diego we were waiting for our luggage and my friend was proudly reading his copy of the novel as we waited. He enjoyed the nice compliments from other people and the flirting from the beautiful young lady at his side. She was really interested in a guy who had one of those new e-reading things. She paid no attention to me as I read my dirty, battered copy of the same novel. I had even used one of those expensive body washes. My friend saw his bag and asked her to hold the e-book reading device for him and she did, proceeding to disappear into the crowd with it, along with his two hundred books.

My friend is totally committed to e-books and bought another e-book reading device. Another friend said he had a copy of a book so great it would change his life. My friend asked for a copy, and the friend sent one to him. Unfortunately it was in the wrong format and his e-book reading device would not display the life changing book. The author had self published and did not pay to have it formatted for this e-book reading device. Feeling sorry, I bought my friend a print copy of the book.

I asked my friend if his young boy likes books and he said he did. I bought him an e-copy of a children’s book and he went home excited to read the book to his boy. His boy looked at him like he was crazy and went into his bedroom and brought out a large stack of oversized children’s books and told him to read from those because they had big pictures.

So committed is my friend to his e-reader he insists on teaching his boy how to read on it. The boy has taken to it and my friend left his e-reader at home. After playing in the muddy sand box, and before washing his hands, the boy opened a book to read and ran his fingers across the screen to flip through the pages. Seeing the screen was muddy and scratched, the boy decided to wash it in the bath tub, but my friend came home just in time.

I packed up two boxes of books I weeded out of my library and drove to the local public library and left them in the foyer where people donate books, including the new novel which I had finished and did not much like. My friend was moved by this and asked the librarian how he could donate copies of e-books to people. The librarian thanked him for his generous offer and said she would accept the copies for the library, but she knew most people who pick through the donated books in the foyer cannot afford an e-reader and she didn’t know how to even offer the books. Not deterred, my friend advertised on Craigslist offering copies of his e-books to people who could not afford to buy them. He got four hundred emails and spent two days sorting out the ones he thought were legitimate and also deleting the pornographic pictures people sent to him. I told him to forward a few of the pictures to me.

Shawn Rohrbach is a writer living and working in San Diego California, and Baja California, Mexico. You can email him at: Read other articles by Shawn, or visit Shawn's website.