Saturday, September 20, 2008

"If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger." - Frank Lloyd Wright

The Kindle - the latest in e-book readers, but also the most user-friendly. Some say it is the iPod of reading. Without any computer source, a Kindle owner can download anywhere (in the U.S. - and not in portions of Montana and Alaska). There are more than 190,000 titles available.

Is this the future? I am a believer in the paperless society. Let's use computers to send mail, keep notes in class, learn through an online university (props to my own employer, South University). Let's bank online and buy online and meet online. Let's learn more about the world because we have 24/7 access to it.

But let's keep books. Let's keep libraries that allow anyone the opportunity to check out books about every topic imaginable... for free! Let's pile books on desks and in corners and use them to prop open the door when they aren't nestled beautifully on shelves and dressers and cabinets.

As I read the information about the Kindle, I'll admit that I was intrigued. I would love to click on a word and have a pop-up dictionary tell me its meaning. If I finished a book and needed another one, I could have it downloaded in one minute. As I age and find that I move my reading materials back and forth to find the crispest vision spot, I'd like to be able to increase the font size. And, out of courtesy to my children, I'd like to not be the reason why their backs are curved like the letter C when they bring my books to the car, loaded down like pack mules.

Still, I adore books. While others pencil in the margins, I believe that books are too sacred for our markings. I quit dog-earing pages when I noticed how much I hated it when others did it to books before me (was this an especially good page? what did I miss?). As I have often said on this blog, I love the smell of books, whether fresh from a local bookstore - the scent of new paper, which always reminds me of September and the beginning of school - or from the library, smoky, yellowed, mildewed or perfumed. And is there a more selfish, secret sound than the rustle made when turning a page?


Sandra said...

Interesting thoughts. I agree that there should always be room in the world for both mediums. A book can be a friend, a memory, a work of art, even a sacred thing. And the reason I called my book blog Fresh Ink Books is because I love the smell of a new book too.

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Jason said...

I hate writing in books, too, but since grad school I can't stop. I will not buy a kindle. I will not give up my paper books. If that makes me an anachronism, if that makes me a dinosaur, I don't care.

I love me some books.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristen,

I used to be like you, not being able to bend a book in the slightest way, but for some reason I changed and now practically destroy my books with dog ears and notes. I just outlined a blog post about this -- so it was funny to see yours on the same topic with the opposite point of view. Now I'm feeing a little guilty!

Kristen at

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said!! I also love the smell of new and library used books. Great post!

Joy said...

I think there's room for both. I don't think a Kindle is in my near future, but I like the idea. I believe old fashioned paper and new technology can be advantageous for whatever works best for the circumstance.

Just thought of this . . . I love my iPod. I have been able to listen to so many books that I wouldn't have had the pleasure of if it weren't for that technology. The iPod (any technology to listen to books - even cassettes) takes the place of an actual person reading a book to you. The physical person is being replaced, just like the physical book is being replaced with a Kindle. My point - both have pros and cons, but there is room for both. :)

Honestly though, I do prefer books. I love embracing a book after a wonderful experience, then days, weeks, years later - catching sight of that book spine on the bookshelf brings back a flood of joyful memories. Seeing a title on a Kindle list just wouldn't do it for me. :)

Any other thoughts Kristen?

Kristin Dodge said...

I am glad that this started some conversation about it. Right now, I'm sitting in bed with my 9-year-old son, who is reading some books from the library. The sound of turning pages is so peaceful against the backdrop of crickets and chickadees. And as I look around the room, there are piles of books everywhere... research under my Buddha statue, thick educational materials beginning to tip in its tower. Sheesh, I still use a paper calendar (Franklin Covey, yes, it's pathetic) to keep track of my life.

I'm a tree-killing paper addict... but check back in five years.