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Stop Looking at My E-Reader

Wallace Yovetich

Staff Writer

Wallace Yovetich grew up in a home where reading was preferred to TV, playing outside was actually fun, and she was thrilled when her older brothers weren’t home so she could have a turn on the Atari. Now-a-days she watches a bit more TV, and considers sitting on the porch swing (with her laptop) “playing outside”. She still thinks reading is preferable to most things, though she’d really like to find out where her mom put that old Atari (Frogger addicts die hard). She runs a series of Read-a-Longs throughout the year (as well as posting fun bookish tidbits throughout the week) on her blog, Unputdownables. After teaching for seven years, Wallace is now an aspiring writer. Blog: Unputdownables Twitter: @WallaceYovetich

I imagine that most people have e-readers because they are convenient. It’s easy to buy books and easy to haul books with e-readers. But what about privacy? Do some of you, like me, use your e-readers for the books you’d rather keep private? Granted, I have a slew of classics on mine, but I also have some seriously embarrassing self-help books which I would never keep on the shelves (or even in my closet). In addition, I have some of my lower brow books (i.e. 50 Shades of Grey) because I have actual relationships with my booksellers and I’d like to look them in the face when I go into the store.

So, I have to ask, what is the e-reader etiquette policy? (Was that a bookish Carrie Bradshaw moment or what?) I have had plenty of people ask me if they can look at my e-reader; fewer now that most people have one of their own, but still people ask. Sometimes I don’t know what to answer. Yes, you can look… from over there? I typically end up letting them take it for a spin, but I’m not always happy about it. I’ve learned the hard way that the better thing to do is walk them through the e-reader on my own so I can control what they see. But I’m always tempted to send them to their local Barnes and Noble to check out the display Nook.

The only time I did not let someone see my e-reader was when I was in Urgent Care in Los Angeles a few years ago. In a disgusting room where there were only three of us, a man sat in the seat directly beside me and started chatting about what I was reading (in between telling me how badly his gallstones hurt, which was SUPER exciting). I shouldn’t have been surprised that a man who was comfortable enough to sit down right next to me and share information about the experience of passing a gallstone would ask to see my Nook, but I was. And I still felt a tiny bit guilty when I answered: I’m so sorry, no. Then to his astonished face and grabby hand that was reaching out for my Nook anyway… Nope. No, no you may not. Do not touch my Nook, sir! (Trying to grab my Nook felt like he was trying to kidnap my baby. I was in fight mode; do not mess with a girl and her books, especially when she is in Urgent Care.)

So, should there be e-reader etiquette? I feel the same way about asking someone to look at their Nook (or stealing a peek at their bedside table/ nightstand drawer reading) the same way I would about asking someone how much money they make — a bit too invasive.