My name is barbara and I am addicted to books. Well, books and butter pecan ice cream, though the latter is a relatively new addiction, more or less replacing popcorn.
For decades, I’ve been a bit of a legend among family and friends because of my love affair with books. For me, buying, owning, reading a book is a multi-sensory experience. The sight, smell, feel of books is immensely seductive. I admit I have not tasted many and I’ve only listened to one audio book.
For decades, books have followed me home from Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers like stray puppies, sometimes singly, but more often in large numbers. I take them in, smooth their covers, position them for rotation as an upcoming read.
My books are shelved two-deep in each of a dozen or so bookcases. They are also more-or-less-artfully displayed in random collections on table-tops, the piano, my desk, etc.
Recently, while attempting to re-order my life, it became apparent that my collection of books has once again grown into something nearly unmanageable. Point of fact, the only place to go with them now is up. Possibly clear to the ceiling in every room save the bathrooms, and I’ve considered converting the bathroom linen closets into bookcases. Really, how many towels does a person need? There's more.
The impetus for my recent radical treachery (more about that in a moment) was schlepping around on the web, looking at bookcases. Tall, deep bookcases. And thus it was that I eventually found myself at Amazon dot com. In addition to books, they seem to have expanded to offering just about everything a person imagines they must have. And that’s when I saw it.
In a moment of sanitus interruptus, I purchased (and now possess) an electronic device named Amazon Kindle. Let me speak plainly. The Kindle is an electronic substitute for traditional books that have paper pages, intricate bindings, eye-catching covers. Books that have dust jacket synopses and breathless blurbs on the back cover. Books that almost invariably include photos of their authors in blue jeans, leaning against fences with horses grazing in the background. Or authors seated on immense boulders with sea spray rising high behind them.
Each author looks deeply into my eyes via the camera lens. And their unspoken message is clear. “We are true partners in your multi-sensory book experience. Take. Read. Enjoy.”
I do not deserve to live, so grave is my transgression.
In the whisk of a credit card, I sealed my fate. And two days ago, the Kindle arrived in my mailbox. Yes, really. It’s that compact.
It seems like such a good solution for my book problem. In addition to the storage problem (and don't even get me started on the matter of giving away books--I know, I know!), there is the matter of bedtime reading with a 500+ page tome (I just finished wrestling for many nights with “A Prayer for Owen Meany”), trying to juggle the immense book or, worse yet, falling asleep and having it crush my sternum with its great weight.
The little wireless Kindle weighs about 10 ounces. It’s not much thicker than Newsweek. Well, Newsweek as we once knew it. And its vertical and horizontal dimensions are about the size of a slightly oversized paperback.
It has a little Qwerty keyboard and assorted buttons for moving from book to book, from page to page. It takes roughly one minute to download an entire book, and the Kindle will store 1,500 books, give or take. I can adjust the font size to suit my personal preference. I can highlight passages or make notations that are saved in a kind of footnote fashion. If I click on any word in the text whilst reading, the built-in dictionary defines it for me. Once I turn it off, I know it will bring me back to the page I was reading the next time I open it.
The Kindle will read my book out loud to me if I tell it to do that. Then I can hook it up to a headset so I don’t annoy people around me. Of course, they may already be annoyed because they cannot believe that I of all people have one of those electronic thingies.
The next time I travel, which I may actually do once I’ve rebounded from the financial nick of the Kindle, I’ll be able to bring as many books with me as I wish.
I sound kinda, sorta sold on this, don’t I? Do not be deceived. I’m trying to justify a decision that has left me feeling as though I’ve turned my back on some of my best friends. My books, past, present, future. My wonderful, tangible books.
I dunno. Sometimes I think it would be better if I were a total Luddite. Of course, that would mean I couldn’t TM my grands, which is just about the only way to catch them these days. But guess what? Most of them love books. I’m not sure how they’re going to take this news.
We’ll see. Anyway, I thought I should warn you in case you spot me out and about with my Kindle. It’s a whole new world, folks. For me, anyway.
(True libraries are in our heads)