I never thought I’d be one to gush over a Kindle — or any digital reading device prior to foldable digital paper. But ever since I started using my newest one (I had a pre-Fire version that I stopped using fairly quickly), the Kindle has become my most-used digital device.
I could honestly see myself buying far fewer books. In fact, I could see the Kindle replacing many of the future books I’d otherwise buy in print. Now, I would only buy them if I absolutely wanted them on-hand or wanted to mark them up or something. There’s still value in having a print copy of some things. But there’s also value in not breaking your back moving every book you’ve ever read (or purchased but not yet read).
For many things, the Kindle version is perfect. Take my subscriptions to periodicals published in Britain, for example. The Spectator and the London Review of Books would probably make it to my house a week or more after hitting newsstands if I relied on print editions to be mailed to me. Instead, with my Kindle subscription, I get them as soon as they hit newsstands. And, to be honest, that has helped my writing.
If anything, beyond writing for work already being a spur to writing outside of work, reading these British magazines have sincerely been drivers of my writing. For whatever reason (likely the heightened quality of the writing over that in American magazines), reading them makes me want to write. Half the time I have nothing to write about, but it makes me want to write. My fingers itch with desire. If only I wrote fiction, I think to myself, I’d have more to write. That isn’t necessarily true, of course, but yet I tell myself it. (In fact, I’d probably procrastinate just as much if I wrote fiction as I do writing these posts and essays.)
The Kindle has spoilt me. The ability to access a dictionary by merely tapping a word — excellent. Access to thousands of works through Project Gutenberg and similar stores of classical works downloadable for free — exquisite. I also find myself watching the videos embedded in news stories and listening to podcasts more often with the Kindle. Each morning, I read The New York Times and The Washington Post on it. Multimedia versions of news articles actually make sense now.
All in all, it makes it hard to go back to print. Now, if only Amazon could recreate the feel and smell of books with the Kindle. (I’ve never sniffed my Kindle. Hmmm.)
(I’m just hoping .mobi files don’t end up like iTunes files — never to be used on another device again. If five years from now, I can’t read any of the books I’ve bought because they’re all locked down to Amazon forever and the Kindle has gone bye-bye, I’ll be a sad, pissed-off bunny.)
It’s still amazing to me: I was such a lover of print.