March 29, 2011


So I did that thing I never thought I'd do. I bought a Kindle.

Well, actually, some other lovely person bought it for me, but the point is that it's mine. Even though I'm a prime candidate for the e-reader trend - I travel and I read like a dehydrated camel drinks water - but I was always a little skeptical about the e-book thing. It's not that I didn't think they were a great idea. Lightweight, portable, tree-friendly - what's not to like? But I already spend a large chunk of my day staring at a screen. I couldn't bear the thought of reading for pleasure from one. Reading is my escape from being 'plugged in'. Plus there's that whole obsession with printing and cover art and bookstores - it just didn't seem like e-books and I were meant to be.

And then I went on my umpteenth very long plane journey across the planet with three big books in my handbag. And I realized that a certain portion of the books I read are ones I don't feel the need to keep on my shelf. There are books I rip through in less than a day that end up taking up prime real estate in my already cluttered bookshelves. Why overload my handbag with half my weight in books when I could keep them all on a Kindle (and buy them for a fraction of the price)? Don't mind if I do.

And I have to say, I'm loving it. It isn't back lit, so it really is like reading from a printed page. I quickly forgot about the things I thought would bug me - the blackout blip between page changes, the slightly grainy quality of the text - and found myself losing sight of the fact that I wasn't reading an actual book.

If I had to complain about anything, I'd say that I miss the cover art, although Kindle has come up with lots of cool screen savers that pop on every time you turn the device off. But e-books tend to be cheaper than hardbacks, and I can't say I'm not a fan of that. Although, considering the fact that you're getting an electronic file instead of the whole printing package, some of the prices should really be cheaper. (But that's a subject for another post.)

That said, I'll never stop buying hardbacks. People talk about e-readers as if you have to choose to read one way or the other, which I've never understood. I'll buy books on my Kindle for travel, for books I know I don't need on my shelf, and for books I plan to rip through. But I'll still buy hardback copies of the books I love. I'll buy them because I love the printing process - the binding, the cover art, the feel of the pages. I'll buy them because the books I cherish are ones I want to leaf through and to keep on my shelves as treasures. Because I don't think there is one decorating feature more telling and lovely than a wall full of cherished books.

So I'm not ashamed to say that I love my Kindle. Because you can be up with the reading times without having to shove hard copy books aside.

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