To give you some context for this post, I should first explain a bit about my background technology-wise:
1. From my freshman to junior years in college, I wrote my papers using this:
photo credit: hebron-kentucky.olx.com
2. To communicate with my friends at other schools, I wrote these:
photo credit: whatawaygook.wordpress.com
and talked on this:
3. In the summer of my senior year, my parents got me my first computer, an Apple Macintosh, along with a dot matrix printer (not pictured):
photo credit: www.aresluna.org
4. I wrote my first e-mail maybe a year or two out of college, in my first job.
5. In 2008 I was dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook. My brother set up my account for me and told me where to hit “confirm.”
6. In 2011 I was dragged (just) kicking into the Apple store to replace my pay-as-you-go Motorola cell phone with an iPhone. It was that same year that I learned the differences between an iPhone and an iPod and an iTune.
7. For half of 2011 my then 7-year old continuously reminded me that it is not Tweeter but Twitter, and one tweets and not twits. (Gads!)
8. In that same year I felt slightly sick when I learned that Borders was closing. I feared the beginning of the end of one of my most favorite things in the world: the printed book.
Last Christmas, my husband got me a Kindle. A Kindle!
But let me be honest. I may have dropped hints along the way like, “For some reason I am a bit fascinated by the Kindle.” In the years since the Borders closing I caught up a step or two technologically speaking. Now I was like a high school girl who had been brought up strictly and religiously who suddenly couldn’t rid herself of her inexplicable curiosity in marijuana or older men.
I was pretty excited to have this Kindle, and was impressed by how light it was and how comfortable it was on the eyes. I went ahead and bought a sleek, black leather case for it and was good to go.
Except I didn’t have any books on it, and meanwhile I probably have close to a hundred physical books on my shelves waiting to be read.
I love print books. I’m pretty lax about most of my possessions – losing jewelry, forgetting to store cashmere sweaters with cedar chips or mothballs…but I’m downright anal when it comes to my books. I carry my paperback books in a special foam case when I go out and I cannot touch a book again if it somehow contracted water stains (the reason I never finished Anna Karenina is that I somehow got some kind of car fluid on it). I love the look and feel of books.
Spending money on an e-book, to me, feels a bit like paying someone to e-mail me a PDF document. There is no aesthetic appeal whatsoever to an e-book and I can’t touch, hold or feel it. I really don’t even see it; it’s just words on a screen.
But again my brother came to the rescue. As a designer and a reader, he, too, has great appreciation for the printed word and the printed book. But he, in his own words, now prefers to read on his Kindle. And he advised me to take the plunge and make my first Kindle read a good one. Because if I go the cheapskate route and download a trashy 99 cent book, the quality of the book may color my first Kindle reading experience. It was good advice that I took with some modification.
Because if the book is a good one, then I will want to have it in my hands. So I went on line to amazon to find a compromise: a cheap, quality book.
The one book I found was one on minimalist living. It had 4.5 stars, and it cost just 99 cents! But it became the most critical 99 cents I’ve ever invested.
I pored through maybe 30 or 40 reviews, re-reading a good number of them. I studied the negative reviews and weighed them against the positive ones. Sure it was just a dollar but I wanted to make sure I was not throwing away this dollar, the way my son throws away quarters on gumball machines. Finally, I came across one 5-star review that said – and I quote verbatim – “Just get it already!”
And so I did. And within seconds the book was delivered to my Kindle.
I took my Kindle with me on shopping trips and to my son’s activities. The book, on how to lead a minimalist life style and cut down on clutter, was a quick, enjoyable and helpful read. I could pick it up and put it down during 10 minute spurts here and there with no mental adjustment. It is very lightweight in my hands, I can highlight (and store those highlights) easily, and, best of all, I can change the font size to suit my ever-increasingly small font-challenged eyes. It was both a thrill and with chagrin that I realized I…love reading on my Kindle…
Since then I have purchased three more e-books. Granted, none of them cost more than $3 but I am getting there, because the second and third books were $1.99 and the fourth one was $2.99. Baby steps. Maybe someday I will be willing to shop outside of the bargain bin.
I kind of have a system now, for how I decide when to Kindle and when to read (I know, like the Kindle isn’t real reading). Books I might have sentimental value in owning I will purchase to own in print. Books whose font size and margin size and size of spacing irritate and overwhelm me I will get on my Kindle. Books weighing more than a newborn infant – Kindle. Haruki Murakami’s hardcover 1Q84 is literally longer than the American Webster Dictionary; I should’ve waited to get that on my Kindle.
It is not with insignificant relief that I don’t find the Kindle perfect. I have The Best American Essays 2012 on there, and I realized it is so not fun to flip through. Really, I can’t flip. I have to press or arrow through. And what I want to do with a book of essays is flip around. I find it inconvenient and entirely too functional. The formatting is plain and unpleasing to the eye, like reading a long office memo.
So I am just where I want to be in terms of being a Kindle reader; this new addition has its own important place in my reading life, but I am pretty sure it will never replace my first and greatest love (famous last words…).