16 December 2009

I Don't Want One

I saw a crazy device recently in Best Buy.

I think it was called Kindle, but I didn't linger long enough to be certain.

I guess everyone has heard of this already before me. Or owns one.

It's this little device that you hold in your hand and it contains the printed words of any large number of your favorite real books.

It is not a book.

It's a little screen (uh - like a computer) that shows you the pages of the books you want to read.

But I can tell you this, you will not be seeing this girl purchase a Kindle. Ever.

One of its selling points is that it has a paper-like display. A paper-like display? What in the world? How about my book over here? Guess what? It has a paper display. For real.

The ad also states that the Kindle reads like real paper without glare, even in bright sunlight.

Is that such a problem? Is the glare in real sunlight what has kept people from picking up books all this time? Oh. Okay.

It can even "carry your library: holds up to 1,500 books". I guess that is impressive. But, you know what I'm thinking. Who needs 1,500 books at any one time when you are out and about?

Actually, the Kindle makes me really sad.

When you want a real reading experience - such as a novel or a biography or an inspirational tome - you want the real deal. Or at least I do. Holding that book in your hands is all part of the process. It's a sensory feeling. And it matters.

What sense of accomplishment can you get from clicking through your Kindle virtual pages? How do you feel when you set your lightweight device down? I want the weight and heft of a book in my hands.

Kevin is reading a 900-page or more book right now called The Source. When he sets that sucker down, he knows he's reading someone's life work. It feels heavy. It feels as if it has merit. And when he finishes those bazillion pages, he is going to know that he accomplished something.

When Riley finished reading the many volumes of Carl Sandburg's Pulitzer Prize winning work on Abraham Lincoln, she could toss that book around with pride. With only a glance, you knew that reading that work of art was a challenge that she had risen to and had conquered. Just by looking.

You can't feel that when you set down a computer device. (And don't tell me that you can. I will not believe you.)

A computer has its place. I know. And I am glad for it.

And a book has its place. I know. And I am even more glad for that.

If it came down to it, which I hope it does not, I know which one I would pick. Every time.

I don't like seeing those two worlds collide.

And I believe that if our culture sacrifices real, in-your-hand books for computer devices, we will regret it. We will lose the appeal of the written word. The words themselves will lose some of their potency, I am afraid. We need the tangible feel, the page turning, the smell, the turned down corners, underlined phrases, borrowed, saved, passed around, treasured sense of vitality that only a real book can provide.


  1. I like this a lot.
    I like it even more that you mentioned the smell, because that's a huge plus about books.

  2. I first I though "nerd" then I kept reading. I looked over at my bed side table full of my favorite tattered paperbacks, three differnt translations of the Bible, you might just be on to something. I hate hardback books because they dont get that good and used look. I don't like my books to seem like they weren't touched and loved... or thrown across the room at horrible endings.

  3. A-MEN!!! ugh amen......sheesh....i hate these kindle things....im like an old lady when it comes to technology, i dont like it, i dont understand it, and i believe it is going to be the end of the world....and the kindle is a HUGE step in that direction...we have replaced sincerity and tangibility with convenience....i hate it.

  4. I prefer books too, but find it ironic to be reading this and responding to it digitally. Maybe we're just being geezer-ludites.

  5. Do you think the "older" generation or those "technically handicapped" feel the same way about a hand written letter or thank you note, paying bills online, or even banking online?

  6. Also, I am much stronger now that I am reading The Source -- it is so freaking huge.

  7. I share your rant...Bryan has heard it several times recently. :(

  8. Amen and amen. As a person who works in a library, I totally agree with you about the tactile experience of holding the printed page in your hand. As one from the "older" generation, I personally feel the same way about hand written letters, etc. Now, let me temper this by letting you know that I am NOT a writer and I almost never write a letter. I have a hard enough time expressing my emotions in "real life"; therefore, it is virtually impossible for me to transmit them by written or typed word! That said....I AM a genealogist and I love things from the past. There is no feeling that compares with holding in my hands something that I know one of my ancestors has held in their hands - a book, a key, a tool, a piece of jewelry..... The most powerful emotions are evoked when holding in my hands the words written on paper by the ones I have loved or even by the ones who past long before I existed. It is as if I can touch them in some small way by touching the paper they held in their hands and the ink that allowed their words to appear on that paper. A note on a computer screen is just not the same....it doesn't have the "human touch or feel." Yet, I would rather have that than nothing, I suppose. It is just another means of communication, but with a much shorter lifespan....

  9. Hear! Hear! Hand this girl a soap box!!