Recently my friend Susan wrote about her love/hate relationship with her newly acquired Kindle. I have to admit that this is something I think about a lot. I have always been obsessively in love with books (see the masters degree in library science & years of my life spent as an underpaid bookseller at Barnes and Noble) I love them like a fat kid loves cake. I have spent most of my life building a collection that I spend a great deal of time rearranging – alphabetically, by subject, by size & color. I moved across the country and shipped something like 20 boxes of books, it cost a small fortune.
Recently, however, space has become a premium, I live in small house that needs to hold lots of things more important than books – you know like water heaters and children and radiators. I have gotten to the point where when one book comes into the house one must go out – I have started stopping at the library sales only to drop off, not to pick up. It is a sad state of affairs.
Despite all of this, I was still very very against e-readers, how do you give up the feel of books in your hands – the ability to flip through the pages, the freedom to arrange them artfully on your bookshelves? Then one day I met Susan for pancakes at Sabrina’s and she let me play with her kindle and it felt good… It felt dirty, but in a good way. I hated myself that I liked it so much – the satisfying click of turning a page – the knowledge of exactly what percentage of the book you where through.
I went home from brunch and tried hard to forget the comfortable feeling of the e-reader in my hand. For months I pushed those dirty dirty thoughts out of my head. But then came Christmas and one of our nephews got a Nook color, the kind that is backlit, the one that would allow me to read in the middle of the night – you know the nights when I don’t over medicate with NyQuil and I wake up unable to turn a light on, because I love my husband and don’t want him yelling at me.
I could take a Nook to work (you know if I had a job) without having to change purses based on the book that I’m reading. I could dress up in a unitard and be a sexy nerdy officer of the USS Enterprise while I pretend to use it to check out our current coordinates. There are clearly a lot of advantages to owning an e-reader.
Despite these advantages I still have reservations, besides not being able to let go of a life time of obsessive book hoarding, I worry that it would be too easy to begin hoarding electronically. I am afraid that I would simply start collecting books (you know the Nook can hold 1,500) until I can no longer recall why I wanted to read something and I move on and forget to go back to things that I have stored. At least when they take up physical space I have a limited amount of it in my bedside table.
There is no point or final outcome to this post – I just thought you all should know the conversations I am having with myself.