Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Change of Pace

Lot’s of talk these days about the future of books as we know them, and whether or not technology such as electronic readers — think Kindle and the new Barnes & Noble Nook — will have a negative influence on how we read books. It’s a good question, one that no serious reader of books can ignore. It isn’t something that’s going to go away, but rather a development that requires us to re-examine our reading habits and perceptions of how the written word is presented.
As someone who has for many years loved ‘old’ things and preferred the traditional to the new, (turning my back on innovation) I’ve offered up a quick no thanks to the thrill of new inventions more than a few times. It is true that I practically had to be strong-armed into finally getting a cell phone (even now I’m not crazy about my iPhone). So imagine my reaction to something like the Kindle.
One of my passions is books, real books, hardback first edition books, and if they are signed by the author, then I feel blessed. Books as we have long known them, have to my mind, an almost tactile heartbeat and warmth that invites the reader to value them as something more than the price tag implies. I love to hold a book in my hands; love the feel of it in my lap, the sound of pages turning, the smell of binding. I don’t know, but maybe a lot of that started with my part-time job at the Los Angeles Public Library years ago. I worked with people who respected books, who taught me a lot about the life of books.
So, what about the Kindle?
Never thought I would say it, but the truth is, these days I don’t like to be without my Kindle. It sure surprised me. Basically, I bought my International Wireless Kindle because I wanted something to make reading easier on trains, buses and in waiting rooms. Well, hello to Kindle! If you’re looking for ease of reading in places that violate the private nature of reading, then look no more and order yourself a Kindle. I still enjoy my ‘real’ books in the same way, with the same degree of quiet excitement, and I haven’t slowed down my purchase of those books.
Take the Amazon video tour of the Kindle. Everything they say is true; no exaggerations. It does everything they say it will, and what impresses me most is being able to see the text perfectly in bright sunlight. Yes, you can sit on the beach unshaded and read your Kindle without so much as a squint. (and without worrying about spoiling a hardback book with saltwater and sand)
Is there a downside? I’m afraid there is. The Kindle Store, which surely will deliver your book in sixty seconds as promised, has about 350,000 titles to choose from. So, what’s the rub? Well, imagine that the majority of those 350,000 titles is made up of pot boilers, bodice rippers, and thousands of others that many of us forget two days after the last page. I did a search of my own favorite writers, and most of them are not listed in the Kindle Store. I don’t want to lead others into thinking that I am looking for rare, or highbrow titles, but I do want more than Stephanie Laurens and John Grisham. I expect that many readers will be happy with the available choices in the Kindle Store, but I also expect that others will have a harder time finding the book they want to read.

And another change of pace...
Life in Japan never ceases to amaze and surprise me. You go along for a stretch of days or weeks seeing only the ordinary sights of daily life, and then you look up one morning and BANG! Is this for real? Are my eyes deceiving me?
On the bus this morning, not really paying attention to much around me I was quickly shocked from my seated slump by a baseball cap perched on the head of an elderly man, a grandfatherly type boarding the bus. Do you know the look of those cartoon-like double takes we’ve seen in Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry? That was me.
Let me warn those with a sensitivity to bad language that this is the place you want to stop reading.
The old grandfather was wearing a black baseball cap with the following words stitched in white across the front:
Kind of made me wonder if the next stop would put me down on a place called Earth.


  1. Congratulations on your Kindle! I love mine...well, both of mine. I bought the Kindle 2 and then the Kindle DX came out, and as I still had some of my bonus money left over I decided to go for it. I'm a bit annoyed at some books not being available, recent books I mean--I'm reading a series and have books 1, 2, 3, and 5 on my Kindle but book 4 isn't available--huh? But I really like how the Kindle fades into the background and you are left with the book itself, just the words.

    Do you have a good reading light to attach to the cover? I have several, makes a lot of difference even though they eat batteries like Mary's Chocolates. :)

  2. Just read this new blog you wrote last night as I was digesting my turkey and dressing and all of the trimmings.

    Knowing you all my life, I am still amazed that you love your Kindle. I still want my books.

    Talk with you in the morning.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America