I’ve Been Kindled
By Jeffrey Page
Without so much as actually holding a Kindle in my hands, I had concluded that this was a nasty little invention that eliminates the intimacy between author and reader, between reader and bookseller. And never would I own one.
My, how things change.
My daughter and son-in-law gave me a Kindle for my birthday and I enjoy it immensely, mainly for one wonderful feature. I now have the ability to enlarge the size of the type in the work I’m reading. This is no small gain for someone like me, who once went several months without picking up a book because the letters were blurry. It happened gradually and at first I was unaware of the change in my eyesight.
I finally came to understand my un-literacy when I tried on a pair of drug store reading glasses just for the hell of it. The letters were sharp, and I tried to remember the last book I had read, and when I read it. I couldn’t do it; it had been that long.
I bought that pair of $20 spectacles and was happy to read again. But I was getting headaches and went to see an ophthalmologist who told me the pain was due to reading with the glasses’ equal magnification in each eye when in fact, my eyes were different and I needed two different lenses.
Now the letters are sharper yet I still have a problem with type size. But with this Kindle I have eight choices of type size and I can see the page before me. Well, I guess I could always see the page, but now I can read the page.
Another thing I like about this Kindle is that with fewer and fewer bookstores to browse in, I can choose titles from Amazon’s huge inventory, push a button and download it in a matter of seconds – and at a discount. For example, I bought “The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson’s riveting story of the black migration from the American south to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It lists for $30. I paid $12.99 for a hard-to-argue-with 57 percent break.
The portability is nice too, as is the capacity. They say a Kindle can hold 3,500 books. I could carry all 3,500 and never get out of breath.
There are losses connected with Kindle as well. I come from a time when there was nothing like a brand new book to savor. We would open the front cover and hear the spine pop slightly. We would turn the pages lovingly from the title page and on to the narrative. The paper felt soft and warm. And a new book had a wonderful aroma: slightly woody, a nod to the tree from which it came.
Kindle may be terrific, but I doubt I’ll ever give up on bookstores, and I’ll always keep the books I love most on my shelves for second, third and forth looks. The Iliad. Sherlock Holmes. Lear and the fearsomely honest Cordelia. The sonnets. Gatsby and Holden Caulfield. And Dylan Thomas breaking my heart again as he and I beg our dads not to go gentle.
Have you Kindled? What do you think of it? And what books do you keep on your personal shelf?
Tags: Jeffrey Page