Love my Kindle, even though it has caused an uproar among my friends. The last time I stirred such a shit storm I stopped eating meat. Who knew people could be so passionate about the way their stories are physically delivered? Honestly, I was a bit unsure, would I miss pages flapping and the feel of a shiny dust jacket? No. An e-reader is easier to hold and manipulate than a book with pages and covers. (And way less awkward and glaring than a computer screen!)
I read a lot of books. Also, I love just getting the NYT on Sunday and not having to go out to the bookstore to do so…plus no inky fingers when I’m done. Somebody asked if you could do the crossword, but I don’t know because I don’t care about the crossword. I care about the book review!
Once I’m in the grip of a story, I don’t have any sensory input at all about the utensil that delivers it. I’m lost in the world of the novel and the ease of manipulation with an e-reader just makes the story world that more immediate. Plus I am saving a ton of money, trees and living space. And I get free books! Deb Smith just had a free one, Crossroads something–
Here’s another example of ease-of-use, normally I would have to go to my bookshelves and search through three floors of books to find the novel so I can tell you the exact title. Here I know right where my Kindle is and all my books are a micro-movement away. The Crossroads Cafe. If you have a Kindle and love romantic women’s fiction, you’ll love this book. I’m sure it’s out in paper too, but you gotta pay for that. How nice is that of Deb Smith to give us Kindle readers a free book?
OTOH, some books aren’t on Kindle yet. I want the new Patti Smith memoir and it’s not there yet. Wait, let me check. Nope. Still not there. And I saw it in the bookstore yesterday, so I know it’s out. Why was I in the bookstore? Because there are still some authors, a rare few, who I collect in hardcover. With most of these authors, I have all or most of their books in HC first editions. Anne Tyler is one of them, so I picked up Noah’s Compass. I’ve got everything she’s written, the first two in very old paperback format, on a shelf of honor. Erica Jong has a similar shelf. So do Margaret Atwood, Alice Hoffman, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, Alice Munro, Carol Shields, and Lorrie Moore. I don’t have first editons, but also have the complete works of Jane Austen, and my token male, William Shakespeare, has two shelves. One for various editons of his works, one for books about him and his writing. I have his portrait (the cute Sanders one that leads this post) above the shelf, which I had custom made. See, I’m obsessive about my books. I’m not throwing them away, just being very selective to what I add to an already extensive collection.
Everybody else (and I do have a huge list of auto-buy authors, some of them men!) I’ll purchase on Kindle. Except my self-help books. Those I’ll continue to buy as actual books because I study them like school texts, refer back to them often, and spend months absorbing their lessons. Yesterday, while picking up Tyler’s latest, I also got Debbie Ford’s new one, The 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse. I started it this morning and plan to savor a little bit every day over the next month or so. I’ve already written in the margins and underlined stuff and journaled about her ideas.
Yes, you can do that on Kindle, and I have used those functions, but for me, this is when a real book is still best. I wouldn’t buy a cookbook on an e-reader either. Or poetry. I like to dip into poetry books at random. I’ve had some of my slim volumes for twenty, even thirty, years. I adore going to my shelf and pulling out, say The Colossus. I bought Sylvia Plath’s first book of poems in 1979 at a B. Dalton. It’s a Vintage paperback and cost $1.65.
So I still honor real books. It’s just that I’m addicted to reading, and the Kindle keeps me supplied nicely. (I’ve read at least a dozen books so far this year, which yes, I was on vacation, so that’s more than I usually get in a month. But not that many more.) I’m also a bit of a neat freak and love the fact that my house isn’t overflowing with books anymore. Believe me, there are still a lot of books here. Just not as many. And that’s a good thing.