I finally joined the digital revolution a few months ago by buying a Kindle. And… I love it.
It took me years to even consider it. I admit it, I was one of those people (still am, actually) who simply loves physical books. You’ve heard this all before, but I love the weight of them in my hands, the smell of them, the feel of the pages underneath my fingertips. I love being able to flip through them (yes like Harry Burns from When Harry Met Sally, I flip to the last page more often than not), and I positively get goose bumps walking into a bookstore — unfortunately, I’m also unable to walk out of there without having purchased something (which makes going to the bookstore dangerous for me).
When I moved from the Bay Area to New York for business school — and back to the Bay Area again, after graduation — I took my very favorite books with me. Three (very heavy) boxes’ worth of books, for a round trip of 6,000 miles. Did I read every single one of them when I was over there? Not even close. I was too busy reading stuff about marketing theory, discounted cash flow valuation, and The Goal. But the idea of being without my favorite books for two whole years made me break out in hives. After all, I love books as if they were people.
So needless to say, I was pretty resistant to the idea of… a digital book. Say what? Where’s all the fun in that? Who wants to stare at a screen for hours at a time?
I’d heard all of the arguments for them. They were very similar to the ones championing digital newspapers and magazines — all of which I was well-versed in, because my first job out of college was in the online division of a newspaper company (the now dearly departed Knight Ridder, rest its soul). Still, the idea of getting a Kindle… I felt as though getting one would mean betraying generations of book readers. Wouldn’t I be letting my people down?
And then I finally got one. I’d had the Kindle app on my iPad for a while and it started to warm me up to the idea of getting one… I finally made the leap after I read The Hunger Games trilogy on my iPad (I’d lent out my physical books to a friend) and was staring at the sharp screen of the iPad for so long (as I mentioned in my previous post, I willingly went without sleep while I read the series, because I couldn’t bear the thought of tearing myself away from Katniss and Peeta) that I started getting migraines. A lot. Pretty bad ones, too. A friend of mine told me that the screen on the Kindle was much kinder to one’s eyes, so when I got an unexpected Amazon gift card, I decided to throw caution to the wind and get one.
Now I can’t imagine being without it. The thought of being able to carry around all of my favorite books with me at all times (it’s like having Hermione’s magic beaded bag, only without having to cart around heavy, heavy, heavy books) sent me into giddiness beyond measure. Sure, I’d prefer to have the physical versions of them with me, but if I were making the move to New York now, instead of eleven years ago, I would no doubt be taking the Kindle versions of my favorite books, not the physical versions (alas, it would have saved me $$$ in UPS shipping costs).
I still buy physical versions of books. I love the way they look on my (overstuffed) bookshelves, and when I fall in love with a book, I like to collect all of the editions of that book (which is how I ended up with seven different editions of the Harry Potter books–U.K. and U.S. editions in hardcover and paperback, German editions in hardcover, and U.S. and German in Kindle format). That said, I’m much pickier now about which book I’m going to make the physical investment in — and it is a physical investment, simply because I literally don’t have much room in my teeny condo anymore to store my physical books.
With my Kindle, though? I can keep buying (and reading) books to my heart’s desire. And for that, I’m very grateful.