It’s true: I am now the hesitant owner of a Kindle. For a long time, I had been one of those stubborn literature purists who rallied against the invention of the Kindle and the death of the book. I had given no consideration to the idea of getting an ebook reader. I scoffed at anyone who said they had one while waxing poetic about the experience of holding a book, smelling its pages, looking at the cover, flipping through its contents with my fingertips. Besides, isn’t everything already getting a bit too digital for comfort? Why would we need to digitize our literature? Isn’t anything sacred?
However, after playing with another book lover’s Kindle, I decided that maybe I should get one. After all, who wouldn’t love the idea of a portable library, a device that can not only store hundreds of books, but that allows you to purchase new ones with the click of a button? Feeling like a traitor, I quietly asked for a Kindle as a Christmas present. When my relatives saw my new aquisition, they actually raised their eyebrows at me.
“Really? You asked for a Kindle? But aren’t you really into books?”
“Yes,” I told them. “And this will help me read even more books.”
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to make plenty of trips to the library and book store. I will still buy paper books because I love them. Nothing can replace the experience of the book. But having a Kindle opens up new opportunities for reading. It makes it easier to buy a book on a whim, and allows me to always have a small library of books with me when I leave the house.
There are many things that real books have over Kindle books. While I hope that paper books never go extinct, I do think that, as readers, we should try to stay open minded. For those who love reading, the Kindle is another format for getting that fix.
So far, I’ve downloaded several classics for free, including The Secret Garden, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I have sampled several books (you can get the first chapter of most Kindle books sent to your device for free) and bought a couple after sampling them. The Kindle has a built-in dictionary, which allows you to look up words in the text without leaving the page. You can highlight passages you like and add notes to them, and the Kindle will store them for you.
As I said before, I don’t see the Kindle replacing my desire for paper books. I still haven’t adjusted to the idea of reading on a digital screen, despite how paper-like it attempts to be. But I’m pleased that I have another way to get access to books. If the Kindle encourages people to read more by making books more portable and accessible, I think that it’s a good thing.