Last week I was reading in my comfy chair, holding Danny, and I started to drift off. I did one of those spectacular edge-of-sleep muscle jerk thingies and knocked Danny on the head with my reading material. He woke up, howled a moment, then relaxed again, and we went on as usual.
I was reading a 550-page book, but the damage was minimal … because it was on my Kindle.
Confession: The book was the latest in the Percy Jackson series. (They’re fun to read, OK?)
Confession II: I LOVE my Kindle.
Fuzzy cell phone picture of lovely Kindle! Reading John McPhee's Silk Parachute. Good stuff.
My amazing Auntie Beth got me the Kindle for Christmas this year. Auntie Beth has been my book supplier since birth, and I’d say a good 60 percent or more of the books I own have been gifts from her. I owe my book-hoarding personality to her, as well: She was a librarian for years at the University of Idaho, reads more than anyone I know, and has amassed an impressive library, mainly of the mystery novels she adores. (She’s also responsible for cursing me to write, but that’s a story for another time.)
Normally, my Christmas list to Auntie Beth comprises the books I’d like, usually new hardbacks or more “literary” titles that are hard to get from the library or my favorite second-hand bookstore. But this year, after much thought, I asked for the Kindle.
I feel a little bit like a heretic. I love books, right?
I love the way books look lined up on a shelf, and I love browsing other people’s bookshelves. (My friend Cady organizes hers by height. It’s lovely.)
I like the way a book feels in my hands, the familiar smell of paper, the smooth motion of dog-earing a page, the way an old book accumulates notes and wear and personality.
I like how I look when I pull a book out of my bag on a park bench or on the bus or while waiting for a friend at a coffee shop.
But what I really, really love is reading. And when it comes to regular matter-y books vs. e-books, the e-books win as far as allowing me to read more.
Most people I know who love their Kindle or other e-reader share the same major reasons: the books are cheaper and you can take your library with you anywhere. I’ll add: E-books hurt less when you bonk your kid in the noggin with them.
There are disadvantages. Some books are impractical on a small device that doesn’t allow flipping pages—reference books, mainly, and the free Kindle Bible I got is a mess. Some books are art unto themselves that just can’t be replicated in e-ink, like children’s books or this gorgeous illustrated Constitution that was on my Christmas list a few years back. I haven’t attempted taking notes on an e-book yet, but I fear it will be lacking.
But for the most part, the Kindle is winning my affection. I feel like I shouldn’t like it – that as a book nerd, and a writer at that, I should feel like some of the soul is missing. But … I don’t . Sorry.
I decided to write a blog post about this because I’m curious how all my fellow book nerds out in the Interwebs are feeling now that e-books are fairly ubiquitous in America. (Amazon sold untold millions this Christmas season alone.)
We’re all talking about the advantages and disadvantages of e-books, but I’m wondering what comes next. How will books and bookstores and libraries and book-loving evolve? (Because they to have to, like it or not.)
Here’s a thought to get you started. When I go to someone’s house, I admire their bookshelves. How will I admire the contents of their e-reader? I imagine some sort of port projecting virtual covers on the wall in a slideshow … or something.
Share your ideas/thoughts/etc. in the comments!