Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Verdict

This is going to be kind of hard for me to say, as I sit behind a library's circulation desk wearing my librarian glasses and wearing my librarian shoes (sensible, not sexy, of course.)

I finished my first book on a Kindle. And I loved it.

Yes, my husband, who spoils me sometimes, bought me one for Christmas. I confess that at first I was mad, because I know how much they cost. But when I sat in my living room on December 26 curled up in a blanket and downloaded the newest Celia Rivenbark book in something like 30 seconds for about half the cost of buying it in the bookstore...well, I wasn't quite so bothered by it anymore.

Just a couple of years ago, I was turning my nose up at the concept of these e-readers and e-books.

"I like books just fine the way they are," I said. "I like turning pages, dog-earing pages that I want to come back to, writing in the margins, carrying them to the pool, loaning them to friends. I can't do those things with a digital version. And who would want to read off of one of those screens? Blech."

But despite myself, I love technology. I may have kept an uncharged dinosaur of a cell phone for a bunch of years, and my primary job responsibility may be to be the protector of the books, but really I'm kind of a gadget geek. After all, a big part of my job is also to provide electronic resources and multimedia equipment to my school. When I first started being lured by the Kindle, I rationalized it by saying I needed to be intimately familiar with e-readers because they are the future of reading (possibly).

But really the reason why they started to appeal to me has to do with clutter. Of course I am a big fan of libraries and the idea of borrowing a book, but more often than not when there is a book I really want to read, I want to read it now and I'm not going to wait until it gets returned to my local branch. I certainly don't like to spend 3 months on a waiting list for a really popular book. So, I buy those books that I am dying to read. Books by my favorite authors (Dave Barry, Celia Rivenbark, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, John Irving.) And books that just plan ol' catch my eye when browsing a book store. One of the big reasons we bought the house we live in was that it has built-in bookcases that support my book-buying habit. But both the built-ins and the individual book shelves in our home are getting full. I give books away and loan them out, but all it really takes is a 2-for-1 sale at Borders or a summer spent reading by the pool and I am reminded of the limited space we have.

Thus, I have a Kindle.

It's not perfect. But to think that it can hold thousands of books and is smaller than a day planner...amazing. I got used to the whole digital ink display thing pretty quickly. And I can do many of the things I can do with my paper copies: I can bookmark and digitally dog-ear pages, underline passages, and make notes. I can't (yet) loan out a book, though, and I don't know if I am brave enough to take such an expensive gadget to the pool or the beach. And not everything I want to read is available on the Kindle. (Darn you, Thomas Pynchon, and your distrust of technology; your newest book so would have been next on my list.) Libraries and brick-and-mortar book stores are far, far from obsolete.

Which is good news for me, I guess.

Do any of you have a Kindle (or Nook)? Are you lured by the technology, or will you stick by paper books until the day you die?

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