It took me a long time to succumb to the wiles of an e-reader. I’m a traditionalist (read: old), and I like the feel of the paper and the ink on it. I like how new paperbacks smell differently from new hardcovers, and how the smell evolves as the book ages, so you can tell it’s a new book or an old book with your eyes closed. I like the idea of a book providing a connection all the way back to Gutenberg, how I was looking the same symbols on a paper page as had Sir Thomas More, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Raymond Chandler.
Then I looked more deeply into Kindles for my mother, whose eyesight now limits her to large print books, or a cumbersome magnification process that binds her to the kitchen table if she wants to read. Kindles, as you may know, can magnify text many times. I bought her the big version and she fell in love with it.
In doing my research, I found that a Kindle had a great benefit to me, as well. There’s a lot of stuff available for it that isn’t in print on paper. Old books, newer books that have gone out of print, and now, books that were created just for the Kindle. (Apologies to other e-readers and their advocates. I have a Kindle, so that’s what I’m riffing on. Insert the name of your favored device as appropriate.) Collections that exist nowhere else. Hopefully, e-readers will one day eliminate the need for books to be of a certain length, lest the purchaser feel cheated. No longer will stories comfortably told in 180 pages have to be stretched to 300. Just sell it electronically for half the price.
My first purchases are good examples. Two collections from the contributors to collaborative blogs I read daily. (Terminal Damage from the writers at Do Some Damage and Fresh Kills, from the contributors at The Kill Zone. A collection that came from one of patti Abbott’s flash fiction challenges. (Discount Noir.) An out of print book I’ve long wanted to read. (Adrian McKinty’s Dead I Well May Be.) A collection of Dashiell Hammett stories I don’t think is available in paper, certainly not for $5.00.
So I joined the 21st Century. I consider the Kindle a complement to my books; I’ll never stop reading books. It will make travel a lot easier, and will help to solve what is becoming an urgent space issue in my office, though I expect I will occasionally buy paper copies of books I first read on Kindle. There’s something about the tactile feeling of a favorite.