Thursday, February 12, 2009

UnKindle My Heart

I am what you might call a "reader." I put it in quotes, because I know to some it is a dirty word. While I read all kinds of digital musings all day long at work, that is not what I call real reading. Real reading is analog - curled up on a couch, lounging in bed or piled into a favorite chair, holding a real live book in your hands, flipping the pages and digesting as many words as possible. On-the-go reading of actual books is also acceptable, but I find it more distracting, especially when I am so wedged into a subway car that I can only open my book at a 45 degree angle.

However, I am also a New Yorker with limited apartment space and my book shelves have been seriously sagging lately. I try to get rid of books I know I won't read again, but I really like being able to refer back to my collection or pass a favorite book on to a friend. I could simply start getting my books from a library, but strangely enough I actually want to pay for books for the same reason I like to pay for my music - I want the people who create them to stick around and keep entertaining me. I'm not so self-righteous that I would turn down a freebie, but I still like to do my part.

Last year I caught wind of the Amazon Kindle, a digital book reader that has been so in-demand that very few people got it under their Christmas tree this past December. Of course, that was mostly because Amazon was gearing up to release the Kindle 2. If you've been to Amazon any time this week you've no doubt seen it.

While I relish my analog experience, I can see the benefit of a gadget like the Kindle. Unlike other small screen experiences, the screen is not glossy, so it is easy to read the words, which are also bigger. It really tries to mimic the book experience. I know this because whenever I come across someone reading from one on the subway my head is practically perched on their shoulder.

It can hold my entire library! Instead of writing down endless lists of books I want to read I can download them instantly! If those two features weren't reason enough, the device can also carry your documents, deliver your newspaper subscription, read out loud to you, bookmark, annotate and make your coffee in the morning. Just kidding on that last one, but come on, how far off from that is it really?

I'll admit that I really want to buy it and love it and make it my own and read to IT. But am I really Jay Gatsby looking out across the water at the beckoning green light? Do I really need a $359 book reader? My sensible side says least for now. Sigh.