Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crying over my Kindle - But trust me, it's a good thing



I wonder if I am the first person to ever cry tears of joy over their Kindle...

I've been reading since I was 4 years old. I think I was the first child in my elementary school class to be able to borrow books from outside the kids section at the public library and for as long as I can remember, I've had an absolutely voracious appetite for books. For a large portion of my life, I've enjoyed reading fiction - especially Stephen King. I admittedly sometimes feel a little shy in revealing that he is my favorite author- especially to my more literary minded friends but I don't care. To me, reading King is like slipping into your most comfortable pair of shoes and going home for a while....

There was a time when I had to have each of his new books as soon as they came out. I'd buy them in hardcover and devour them in days- but something has happened over the last 10 years or so. I've slowed down buying them, sometimes waiting until they come out in paperback. Don't I still love reading him as much as I once did? Of course I do. But these days, it's a weight thing. See the book above- Under the Dome? I bought it this past February right before an impending snowstorm. Paid full price for it at Target and only ever got about a fifth of the way through. Not that it wasn't a good book, I just couldn't stand holding such a heavy book any more and so it sat...

But I really wanted to read it, thought about buying the new paperback version to try and get back into it but when I saw it at the store, well, it was just as big, bulky & heavy. Sigh. So I started thinking Kindle even though I simply adore the way a book feels and smells in my hands. Digital content frustrates me in that you have nothing but to hit delete if you don't want it any more. Nothing to swap at the local used bookstore or to set out at the next neighborhood yard sale. eBook readers just seem so cold & lifeless- but I really wanted to read that book and I thought maybe a Kindle would be good for catching up on a lot of the good fiction I'd been missing over the years.

So I took the rewards from my Amazon credit card & I bought myself a shiny new 3rd generation Kindle. In white. And before it even arrived, I had bought Under the Dome, and also a short story that Stephen had written called "UR."

The day the Kindle arrived I powered it up, grabbed a yoga mat and sat out in the sun and decided to read the short story first. It was about a man who buys a Kindle and finds out that it has the special ability to download books from ten million different alternative realities- which means additional books by your favorite authors, The story was really good until I got towards the end where Stephen used the term, "low men in yellow coats." And that's when I started to cry over my Kindle. To me, one of Stephen's most endearing writing habits is to weave small repeated elements throughout seemingly unrelated books. So here I was, sitting and reading on this Jetson's-like device in my back yard and that one little phrase knocked me for a tail spin.



With new technology, I think it is common to think about what "new" things you can do and access with it, but I'm not sure we ever really think about the way you can sometimes go backwards. Take YouTube for example. It's fun to watch the latest viral video, but I can get lost for hours watching old commercials from the 1970's. It becomes this portal into the past that seems to validate that I was alive during that time - that it wasn't just part of my own memories, it was REAL.

So I'm sitting there finishing the UR story and still feeling a bit emotional from that "low men" reference when I realize that I cannot start reading Under the Dome yet. Though this whole purchase was inspired by my wanting to finish that book, I realize that I simply must go back. Sitting in my yard, September 21st 2010, I bring up the Kindle library and I type in...

"The Talisman"

One my all-time favorite King books. I click "buy" and it shows up on the home screen in less than a minute.

"On September 15th, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and land come together, hand in his pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic."

Though this book was first published in 1984, I'm pretty sure I 1st read it in 85 or 86 in paperback. Plain as day, I can remember sitting at work in the photo booth reading that book. I loved it so much I know I've read it several times. I wanted to include it in a picture here but when I went upstairs to get it, it wasn't there. My beloved 25 year old copy of The Talisman... it's gone. Where? No clue. I'm thinking I once loaned it out but never got it back. Though that doesn't matter now, does it? I've got it right here in my hand...

I absolutely love my new Kindle. I love that I can highlight and save favorite passages on the fly - ahhh.... it's just so good. And I have always said, it doesn't matter what your reading, as long as your reading.

16 comments:

Jackie said...

Congrats on Your kindle!! I have a Nook and I love it ! it's like a library in your hand. I love that you found time to read and were inspired
Hugs,
Jackie

Anonymous said...

I have the Kobo (Canadian version) and for me it was a similar feeling of joy, but for a different reason. I've had such bad eyesight for such a long time. Not bad enough to interfere with day to day living, but impossible to read the print in books.
The Ereader allows me to change the size of the font mid sentence if I need to. This has opened up the worlds of books to me again. And I am so happy!

Liz from Canada

Megan Warren said...

I'm still not sold on the e-reader - but I am open to being convinced!

Sophie_vf said...

great post. I have similar feelings (though not to the point of tears of joy - that's lovely!). I love that you can get access to obscure, out of print books too as well as books that are only available in digital format. I still read paper books, but I love the additional options the Kindle gives.
Did you know your annotations are saved in a file that can be exported? In case your reading gets your creative juices flowing...

Kate the Kate said...

When tech writer Andy Ihnatko reviewed the newest Kindle, he said: "if you love books, you won’t ever be happy with a Kindle or any other e-book device. But if you love reading, it’ll bring your love to a whole higher level."
That's how I look at my Kindle :) It won't replace my physical library-- it enhances it.

Dan said...

What a great advertisement for the Kindle. I'm the other way round, I love a heavy hardback to read! Funny, I almost ordered The Dome from the library at the weekend, but ended up choosing The Magic Cottage instead. I'll give The Talisman a try. I am also an avid reader, and feel very much the same way as you about books, the adventures they take you on and the recollections of reading them.
Enjoy your Kindle!!
Dan
-x-

Paul said...

I have mixed feelings about my Kindle. On one hand it is very convenient, particularly for travel and research on the go. On the other hand, the idea of not being able to buy "used" books is a big deal for me (or share, or give to a friend). And also the public library, which I frequent all the time -- where can I "check out" e-books?

My dad just gave me a box of his books from his graduate school days in the UK during the 1950s, including a signed C. S. Lewis. I think sometimes now, "What will I give my son?".. A 10 year old Kindle with a dead battery? These things really have no long-term value, certainly not as an investment, and most likely not as an heirloom.

Also, nobody has made an open-and-shut case yet for the environmental savings of e-books, the toxic materials (PVC, mercury, etc.) that go into making these electronic devices are in some cases worse than printing and paper-making. They end up in landfills in developing countries. Moreover, the server farms that house the e-books books have huge electricity requirements, and it seems strange to me to have to turn on an electronic device (and charge it) just to read a "book" in broad daylight.

So yea, I have one foot in the door, but am a bit concerned about moving all the way to digital in terms of reading.

Biffybeans said...

Jackie, yes, yes.. very inspired! Thank you!

Biffybeans said...

Liz - I so hear you about eyesight! I need bi-focals but am in denial. The Kindle is easy to read and I love that you can change the font settings.

Biffybeans said...

Megan, I didn't even want to CONSIDER one because I thought it was blasphemy. When you see someone with one, ask them to take a peek.

Biffybeans said...

Sophie - I did NOT know about exporting my annotations! That's awesome! Thank you for the tip! Woot!

Biffybeans said...

Kate - Stephen King said the same thing - that it was only the manner of delivery... :o)

Biffybeans said...

Dan - much thanks! And enjoy the Talisman- it is a true fav...

Biffybeans said...

Paul, the used book thing is pretty big for me as well. Though I've noticed I've been thinning down my collection and sitting on a fair share of trade in credit at my local used shops. I had a habit of buying but never reading and now I'm trying to be more selective & keep up. So even though I've "recycled" my old books, I don't have anything to show for them but credit I might never use....

I like hearing that you received the box of books from your dad because I don't have many family heirlooms like that. On the flip side, I love in a tiny house and when people do give me things, I'm at a loss whether or not to keep or move on because I just can't keep everything that people want me to have. I wonder if situations like this don't often cause more burden then delight. (Although clearly delight in your case.)

I also hear you 100% on the environmental issues connected to electronic devices. Technology moves so quickly that we often become convinced that we "need" a certain device in order to survive without taking the time to examine the impact said item has on the world as a whole.

I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to read my post and respond with such thoughtful comments. Thank you!

yolospat said...

That is exactly how my first experience was when I got my Kindle.

ana said...

What a lovely story about a change of heart. I totally understand your trepidation and the joy of discovering what a wonderful device an ereader is. Will I miss a stack of dusty books at the used bookstore? Yes. Will I miss dusting them off at home? Not so much.

For me, the book I am most looking forward to reading on my Nook is Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age which is about a poor young girl who gets a virtual book that opens up the world of learning and education to her. It seems like the perfect story for an ereader.

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