Nothing strikes terror in the hearts of friends and family like a conversion announcement. I came out at a football playoff party at my dear friend Lolita’s house. Maybe it wasn’t the best timing – mid tortilla chip dip and all. But I blurted it out anyway.
“Gary got me a Kindle for Christmas and I love it.”
Lolita’s jaw dropped but she recovered fast enough to bust me on my own hypocrisy. “You said you were one of us!” meaning her literature-loving, book-club-belonging, close-knit group of friends. “I would feel better if you were converting to Catholicism!”
Lolita has nothing against Catholics; it was just the biggest about-face she could think of on the spot. (I am rather public in my secular-humanist, spiritual-but-no-formal-religion stance.) Like Lolita, I have always been adamant in my cuddle-up-with-a-good-book, feel-of-the-paper, musty-smell-and-all support of the traditional.
I blame my conversion partially on my cat, Rosie. Trying to read a “real” book with her in the vicinity was always a challenge. She is literally jealous of anything that prevents petting when she is in the mood for affection and “real” books are big and heavy and prevent guilt-inducing eye-contact between the species. She has batted books out of my hands, clawed pages and bared her teeth in the past. Thankfully, since the Kindle is not cheap, she has nothing against the e:reader. She actually purrs when I balance the Kindle on her side, or her back, or even that itchy spot where her tail connects. The only glare I get is when I have to turn the thing off and rejoin the working world.
But it would be rather small of me to not admit the other reasons I love my cozy little reader. Pointing at a word for an instant definition instead of having to look it up in a dictionary? Priceless. Hovering over a delicious phrase and having it “highlighted” for later lingering? Addictive. Reading a book review in the Wall Street Journal and being able to instantly download it and start reading? Good for the economy, if not for my checkbook. I’m buying new books again – for the first time since my friend Will Balk left the Bay Street Trading Company.
Don’t worry, Lolitas of the world. I’m not going to throw my old books in a bonfire and I’m not divorcing myself from all things non-electronic. I wasn’t required to sign an oath of allegiance and because I live with a photographer I’m certain art books will maintain their treasured status in our house. But forgive me if it takes a little longer to answer the phone on weekends. I’ll be purring with Rosie.
4 thoughts on “I’ve converted”
January 24, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Great minds think alike. I just wrote a chapter where Ally compares the ease of cuddling and being petted by a parent reading a kindle vs. a page turner. Never thought I would convert either. Yet after over 58 years, rarely without a book in hand, I realized that last night was the 1st time I “went to turn the page” after only 3 months with a kindle I’m imprinted – even if I do have read mine upside down so I don’t inadverently hit the off switch. Also love having the ability to increase font sizes when my eyes get dry after marathon sessions.
At least when I’m reading my kindle, Richard doesn’t complain about me staying up 1/2 the night with the lights on. It’s such a magical feeling to read with the lights off – like reading at summer camp by flashlight.
As far as book sales, I just ordered printed copies of the LIFE OF PI & THE HIGHEST TIDE by Jim Lynch to give as Valentine gifts to our son who is unplugged. Initially,I downloaded both for free. They immediately made it onto my TOP 10 BOOKS FOR LIFE. 3/4 of both e-books are highlighted in yellow.
There will always be those precious books you need to have printed copies of. Poetry, gardening and cookbooks immediately come to mind and eventually the cost will become more affordable and I’m hoping the reimbursement to writers & musicians will continue to make these pursuits financially worthwhile.
But, how can you not love a device that it fits in your bag guaranteeing that you always have something to read or listen to since you can download your i-tunes library – not to mention internet access if you’re somewhere with WI-FI.
Because the cost of downloading best-sellers is still prohibitive, I’ve found so many new indie authors, I might never have read. I’ve written some reviews and written to a few authors and was delighted when they wrote back.It’s changing the reader/author dynamic and ts revolutionizing the literary world -but not in the way I feared.
January 24, 2012 at 10:50 AM
I knew if you gave it a chance you would be a believer. I got mine last mothers day and it goes everywhere with me. So easy to pack on trips and it contains not only books for me but ones for the kids. Including some that even read themselves aloud to the youngest one. Plus I can always challenge Brandon to a quick game of Yahatzee without the dice, paper and pencil!
January 24, 2012 at 4:39 PM
Ah, dear heart, not only do I acknowledge the inevitability of the e-book…I even begin to see enormous beneficial possibilities which can come from the form. It’s partly in that search for “independent” writers – unable to get published in any other way – and partly in the as-yet-unrealized new formats and tricks and apps which can so easily and inexpensively integrate into the “book” format. And Apple’s new iBook Author app simplifies publishing and design for the e-book format. There’s so much to look forward to – but truthfully, much will be lost in giving up the printed form. Ain’t it always thus?
January 25, 2012 at 4:04 AM
I look forward to the day when books are streamed directly into a microchip implanted in our brains 🙂