There are some pieces of technology that have come into my life and changed it completely.
One of those is my Roomba. Another, my Kindle.
I agonized over whether or not to buy one. My wife didn’t have such ambivalence, and got one for Christmas one year. As with most of the technology that she adopts years ahead of me (early .mp3 player, iPod Touch, iPad, car manufactured since 1997), I was almost immediately envious.
I dallied, though. There were lots of books – real books, made of paper and such – that I owned and had not yet read lining the shelves of our home. (I’m a slow reader.) Plus, I liked the “feel” of the book. I liked seeing my bookmark advance through the pages. I liked piling a year’s worth of finished tomes on my nightstand, a trophy to my accomplishment.
Then the local bookstore closed.
We had watched Borders languish for years. We watched its clumsy foray into the e-reader business, its haphazard divorce from Amazon, its efforts to first reduce then rapidly expand its book selections. Its demise was foretold in a hundred different ways.
When finally it closed, I panicked. There was a Barnes and Noble – which I always favored over Borders anyway – within driving distance, but it was rare that we found ourselves out that way. So, I bit the bullet and bought the Kindle.
And oh, how I love it so.
The free classics I’ve downloaded onto the thing have probably more than paid for it. And every morning, I check my e-mail to see what deals Amazon is offering on books now. I actually make a point of visiting the Books section on NYTimes.com regularly and keep a mental list of titles that interest me that might come up at a discount through Amazon.
Mine is the Kindle Touch – lightweight and easy to use. It’s easier to hold and read in bed than a book, and I love that I can pick up where I left off on my phone if I have some downtime. I’ve even found a love for cargo pants, because the Kindle slides so easily into one of the pockets on the legs.
It’s just awesome.
There are some disadvantages. For instance, I can’t begin to tell you how many books I’ve read this year, as I move seamlessly from one book to the next. Also, people automatically assume that you’re reading smut. Alas, I don’t read the kind of books that folks usually read on a Kindle, but that’s OK; folks will just have to realize how highbrow I am by actually engaging me in conversation.
(A point of etiquette: it’s rude to ask someone what they’re reading on their Kindle. Just assume it’s “Fifty Shades of Gray.”)
Those are the only drawbacks I’ve been able to find, however. It’s functionally awesome, the battery lasts forever, the little blip between page turns doesn’t bother me in the least, and I’m reading far more now than I did, and probably spending less on books. Also, as my house is out of places to put a bookshelf, there’s an advantage there as well. Even packing for trips is easier, as I’m not winnowing down a stack of books to fit in my bag and lug around with me. Just drop the Kindle in the pocket with my pipe and tobacco, and I’m good to go.
For all the booksellers out there: bless you. You’re doing God’s work. And I hope you find your reward in heaven.
But don’t be surprised if your reward is a Kindle, and every book is free.