Monday, May 23, 2011

My Kindle and I, A Love Story

Several months back I received a brand new shiny Kindle from my fiance as a fifth anniversary present. One might suspect that after five years I would have preferred something along the lines of fine jewelry. But having been an avid reader since childhood, my loved ones have long since caught on that books and all things book related make much better presents then anything traditional. Thus, the Kindle.

Now, I have to confess that when e-readers first made their way onto the market I was firmly against them. When I say that I love books, I don't just mean that I enjoy reading. I love going to bookstores and wondering amongst the shelves searching for treasures. I love the bright covers and the clean white pages. I love the way books smell. At any given time I have half a dozen stacked next to my bed waiting to be read, and loads more crammed into bookshelves and cubbyholes. E-readers seemed
 to fall short in comparison. The flashy screens and multitude of buttons seemed more like a computer to me, cold and impersonal. And while I could to some extent understand the advantage of having thousands of books stored on one little device, I insisted I didn't need that. I was perfectly happy carting my paperbacks from place to place in my over sized purse.

My attitude changed slightly when I began college and started working in my school's library. I work many night shifts, sitting at the circulation desk ready to help patrons in need. We are encouraged to read or do homework at the desk during slow shifts. My reading material consists of a lot of romance, fantasy, and horror. The covers of these tended to cause raised eyebrows from supervisors, coworkers, and patrons--the clear message being that I should not be wasting my time with junk like that.

Had this potential embarrassment been the only issue I would have mentally told them all to go to hell and kept right on reading. But then there was the problem of semi-frequent interruptions causing me to loose my place, bookmarks being elusive and frequently lost. All of the trekking from building to building started to take a serious toll on my books as well, with many a poor paperback getting crushed at the bottom of my bag. There were issues of storage space, since my dorm only offered one small shelf above the desk which barely had room for my school books. 

The bottom line is, e-readers started to look more and more appealing. I started quietly shopping around and trying to figure out if I could really justify the purchase. I liked the Kindle the best because the screen isn't the bright and flashy LCD of many others that I looked at--it looks a lot like paper instead. I debated buying it for a long time before finally being spared the expense when my sweety surprised me with it on our big Five Years.

My Kindle, who I affectionately named zippy, has served me pretty well. I bought it a carrying case, and it fits in my bag better then most traditional books. It's happy to hold my place for me, even when I have to walk away from it unexpectedly. I've stored many books on it to satisfy my changing moods, and buying new books is pretty much instantaneous. It has many silly little features that I hardly think to use, like the "text to speech" robot voice that reads to you. And it has many useful features like the ability to highlight and save quotes.

This does not in any way mean that I've given up my paper books. There is still a part of me that's a purist when it comes to the reading experience. So my shelves are still filled, and my TBR pile still sits next to my bed, and when I'm at home I generally reach for regular books over the Kindle. But in the end, I'm glad that I switched to e-books for on-the-go purposes. I'm committed to reading as often as possible, and this is just one more way to make that possible.

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