After a month or so of serious consideration and not-quite-internal debate, I decided upon buying an Amazon Kindle. It took me roughly five minutes to fall completely in love with it and to subsequently name it.1
But I’ll get to that in a minute.
First I want to share the reasons I decided a) to buy an e-reader, and 2) to buy this e-reader. Like most things on which I end up spending large amounts of money2 this came down to matters of practicality.
Primarily, I can buy classic books for free or for $.99, thusly enabling me to move some of my books to the storage unit3 and free up precious space in our apartment. If/when I ever move to a larger place, I’ll bring all those books back out and keep them around. But for now keeping them in digital format is extremely helpful.
Also, having those classic books with me at all times means I’m way more likely to actually read them. Mark Twain said that classics are books that everyone wants to have read but no one wants actually to read.4 I’ve worked pretty hard at reading many of the classics, but I could work harder at it. This will help me.
Thirdly, I think I mentioned last week that I always take at least three books with me whenever I go on a trip, even just a weekend trip to visit Ashley’s sister in Chicago. When we went to Disney World last year and I was struggling to pack books in my bag5 Ashley said, ‘Why are you bringing so many books? We’re going to effing Disney World.’ Yes, I said, but years of habit are hard to break. An e-reader makes this way easier: I just toss the device into my bag and I’ve got everything I might want to read right there, plus the ability to get more books.
The next reason is the least immediate to me but is still a valid concern. E-readers are relatively new technology and are already insanely popular.6 This trend will only intensify in my opinion. Given that I will be a life-long reader, I feel it’s time I begin adapting how I read.
The last bit of practical logic is what came to me out of Dave’s comment on last week’s iPad post: ease-of-use can make a device worthwhile even if it merely duplicates functions that other things I own already to. In this case, books allow me to spend my time reading. An e-reader easily lets me spend more time reading a wider variety of material. That makes it worthwhile.
why did I settle upon a Kindle?
It’s actually rather simple. Despite all of my concerns, it came down to one fundamental decision: I want my e-reading experience to be as similar as possible to my non-e-reading experience:
- Books don’t hurt my eyes because the pages are too bright.
- Books can’t be read in the dark.
- Books never tell me that I have an email.
- Books have pictures, but those pictures never move.7
- Books don’t need to be charged.
All of these are true of the Kindle except for the last statement. But as Wired put it, “Battery life is long enough for space shuttle missions.” I read for maybe four hours straight last night, after also reading the New York Times at various points throughout the day. The battery is still practically fully charged.
My friend Mike commented last week that on day two of owning a Kindle the device “the device slipped away and it was just me and the words.” This happened to me last night, and I was grateful. So far my Kindle experience has met and in some cases exceeded my expectations.
So now, finally, I give you the promised moment-of-love-and-subsequent-naming.
After I opened the box and enjoyed the new-device rush that’s become such a part of contemporary life, I synced the device to my Amazon account. Once I returned to the home screen I saw that I had an archived item that I could download to the device. Last semester, whilst knee-deep in researching my paper on Infinite Jest, I realized that life would be easier if I could search the text. So I bought the e-book on Amazon and used the Kindle for PC app for this purpose.8
As the book was downloading to the Kindle the other night, I realized this meant that I would have my favorite book of all time with me at all times.
Damn. Totally worth it.
And that’s when I fell in love with it. Which required that I name it. That part was easy.
Adored Readership, give a hearty hello to Foster.9
- I name all of my favorite devices and things, especially the ones that I know will positively affect my life. My iPod is The Black Bard. My Droid is Artoo (as in Dee-too). My laptop is Hermes. There’s a bit of dispute w/r/t naming the car: I want to call it The Falcon, Ashley wants a non-Star-Wars name. We’ve settled on Vue Askew, it being a Saturn Vue and all. My bass guitar has whatever name I choose to give it at that moment, but it always starts with Doctor. My acoustic guitar actually doesn’t have a name, which stuck me as curious when I realized this. But I’ve come to understand that I view that guitar as more of an extension of me and my personality than its own separate entity. In this way, the lack of a name is possibly the highest of compliments in Bo-world.
- For my purposes, this is decided by the following: price-of-device>$50, (cash-on-hand + (future cash/t)) – (upcoming bills/t), where t is a specified amount of time.
- Climate controlled. Frankly, my storage unit is probably better for my books than the apartment.
- Paraphrased. Probably.
- Along with deciding which books to pack.
- Said quantities of insanity are relative to the book-reading population.
- Statement describes reading experience typical of most readers. Individual results may vary.
- This is where the lack of page numbers is so damn frustrating. Citing things would be way easier if Amazon could figure this out.
- I like how ‘Kindle’ taps into both a noun and verb. Foster accomplishes the same thing while at the same time pays tribute to Mr. Wallace.