A Kindle-ing Love
(With today's release of the Kindle Fire I thought I would write about my evolving attitude towards e-books.)
I was one of those guys. You know the people who said they would never, ever, ever read with a Kindle. It goes something like this, “I love the feel of a book in my hand, I can’t imagine reading without that experience. Plus I love being surrounded by books that I have read. Frankly I am offended even by the concept of the Kindle.” etc., etc. I was that person. Then I won an iPad in a contest at the Emmet O’Neal Library in Mountain Brook Alabama and things changed.
It was one of those nights. I couldn’t find any books at home that fit the mood I was in. Usually I would make a mad late night dash to the local B&N but I had moved. At 10:00 PM, the best I could do were romance novels at the check-out line at the Pig. But romance novels are not my thing. So reluctantly I searched through Amazon and found a light, good, going-to-bed book. While the experience didn’t just blow me away the first time I used it, it didn’t lose me either. I finished that book, then another and then another. Soon I discovered my reading habits had changed to reading three kindle books for every one paper book.
So what did I like about it? First, there was the ability to instantly satisfy a craving. Second, the backlit screen meant I didn’t have to twist into a pretzel to grab the limited tendrils emitted by my bedside lamp to see the page. Third, no do I dash to the dictionary or scramble for a pen to highlight bits of wisdom. Finally, falling asleep reading doesn’t mean spending 15 minutes reading through the book trying to find my place the next day.
But aside from the device (or the app in my case) I also like what it does for writers. You can now be a publisher, printer and marketer of your own book for free. The gate that was manned by publishing houses in New York is now manned by your own ambition. If your book only sells ten copies to your cousins it still gives you the chance to share your writing. Isn’t that why people write in the first place?
There are things I don’t like about the e-reading experience. I miss seeing the book on my bedside table. And all regular readers know the visceral joys of the actual book. I miss visiting my favorite place in the world every time I need a book, the bookstore. (But I don't miss their prices.) Heavy readers don’t just like reading books, they like having read them. You want to see a representation of your accomplishment. I have a whole ritual of finding the perfect place for my newly completed book then admiring it on a bookshelf. As much as I enjoy Goodreads (feel free to friend me) seeing your read list is not the same.
I can’t imagine ever completely giving up hard-backed books. If they ever stop printing them I will rummage through garage sales and hole-in-the-wall used book stores just to keep me sane. But if you are a “I never will buy an e-book reader” person I bet that you would be surprised to find that reading an e-book is not the horror that you suspected. The fact that my 75-year-old tech adverse, bookophile, mother is happily reading one upstairs right now shows anyone can change.