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.