I’ve heard people say “I won’t get a [Kindle, e-reader, etc.] because I like the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands.” I said that exact same thing about two years ago when I first started hearing about the Kindle. I was very smug about being a “real” reader, and I felt that an electronic reader was not good enough for someone like me, who really appreciates books.
Fortunately my girls are smarter and more open-minded than me. They gave me a Kindle for Mothers’ Day this year, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It took me about 3 minutes to get used to navigating the pages and page-turning, and to find my books on it. The new Kindle conveniently came with a free Stephen King novel loaded on it (King wrote it specially for Amazon, and it’s about — surprise!—- a haunted Kindle).
Amazon really knows what’s it doing with the method of downloading books. It couldn’t be easier to go online (using the Kindle itself) to browse for books on pages that look alot like the regular Amazon page. And when you decide to buy, it takes one click. It’s almost too easy, which is probably why they have a convenient “made a mistake?” button where you can cancel a purchase you just made. After you buy, the book is uploaded to your Kindle in about 2-3 minutes.
Other reluctance about the Kindle includes a statement like: “It’s very comforting to just be able to reach out at my bedside and grab a book from the pile.” Well, that’s comforting to me too. I have access to about 90 real books within 36″ of my side of the bed. If I put my Kindle on that bookshelf, that adds access to about 50 more books, in a space the size of a DVD case. (The Kindle actually holds up to 1500 books, without saving anything to a computer, but I’m not nearly up to that yet.)
But I find even more comfort in throwing the Kindle in my carryon, and having access to thousands of books at the airport, on the plane, and when I reach my destination, no matter how remote the destination might be. My parents live in a very small town, and the nearest Borders or Barnes & Noble is at least a 35 mile drive, each way. (Forget about independent booksellers; there are none until you get to Chicago, which is a 2-hour drive.) But while at my parents’ house, I have immediate access to anything I want to read, including the NY Times (also a 35-minute drive away).
I won’t even tell you about the convenience of being able to read the Sunday Times in bed in Key West Florida, without having to walk Duval Street at 8am (with a headache), looking for a paper to buy.
I was at a Marina del Rey hotel recently and had a sudden urge to re-read “Bonfire of the Vanities”. (Don’t ask.) I downloaded it in the hotel restaurant, while having a great breakfast.
I still have hundreds of “real” books, and the Kindle won’t ever completely replace them. Loving a Kindle isn’t selling your soul. Now I have another thing to be smug about.