Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kindle Garden

We have made a decision that seems monumental to me, yet at the same time it seems obvious and natural. We are abandoning books.

We will still be reading novels and non-fiction. But most of the time we will be reading them on the Kindle, Amazon's portable device for reading digital versions of books which became available for overseas customers today. Ours have already been shipped.

After almost 60 years of just loving the experience of picking up books and reading them, I have decided that it's the words that I love not the pieces of dead tree that have been stitched together. That decision was made easier because we have more or less stopped reading newspapers since LK retired. We get the weekend papers in order to track real estate, but all the rest of our news comes from the computer screen and, when they aren't dropping everything to watch a silver balloon float over Colorado, CNN.

But the Internet, crammed as it is with news sites, is perfect for people ready to drop physical newspapers. Somehow, dropping books seemed a lot more extreme.

I know there are people who are in love with the tactile part of reading. They love to feel the paper, to hold the words in their hands, to put them on shelves in their home. I don't think we will fall into that group, but Lord knows LK and I have saved hundreds of books that we could surely guarantee would never be read again, and our de-cluttering efforts forced us to rethink whether we really buy into that strong taboo against treating books as disposable items like most of our other possessions.

LK and I also made the decision to move to the Kindle for practical reasons. Carrying lots of books is a royal pain in the butt when you're on a long trip. And getting new books is a chore requiring either going to the bookstore, ordering online or getting Jason to pick some up for us and bring them to us (OK, his chore, not ours!). LK was particularly adrift when she finished all of her books and still had two days in Venice with no English books to be found.

Even so, we both wondered how we would feel to move to all-digital reading. In the end, we decided we have moved past holding on to old ways of doing things because, well, they were the old ways we did them.

I wouldn't even consider giving up my iPod and returning to a record/8-track/tape/CD player. I love having thousands of photos on my computer and in a virtual storage place like Shutterfly. I can't imagine a time when it would matter to put them on pieces of paper anymore. I like making phone calls by talking into my computer. Who needs a handset? And I can easily see a point in the very near future where I quite simply never have to carry any cash with me.

Mind you, we've also embraced new technology in the past only to have our closets filled with things that didn't work out as well as we thought they would in our original enthusiasm. I am pretty sure the eBay audience isn't going to bid through the roof for our mini-CD recorder.

But I have a hunch the Kindle is a big deal, especially for us book readers. I will let you know after we've had a couple of months dealing with it.

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