Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Kindle

For Christmas I received the life-changing gift of a Kindle. I opened the box, and then I sat there and cried. And it HAS changed my life.

As an editorial assistant, I carry home approximately 200 pages a night. That usually means printing chunks of two or three projects that we are unlikely to buy for one reason or another, using our elderly printer, as well as ink and paper. And I carry it all back the next day to share my thoughts with the editors. And more on the weekends!

Since I commute three hours a day, having a giant bag stuffed with unwieldy papers is a real pain, figuratively as well as literally. I’ve never had back problems before, but lately there have been some serious twinges. So when my mom asked what I thought of the Kindle, and whether it would be useful to me, I thought about it.

But I was torn. I’m a book person. I love the smell of a book, the feel of a book, the whole experience of a book. Plus I use the library all the time, and Kindle books are expensive for someone who doesn’t really have that extra money to apply to something that I could get from the library for free. Plus it’s expensive itself, and this didn’t seem like the year for expensive gifts. So I said I’d have to really think about it, and let the matter go at that. And when they were sold out a month before Christmas, I mentally kicked myself and moved on.

My mom ordered one anyway, and I’m so glad she did. I can now carry a real person’s purse, instead of a publishing wench's giant bag. I’ve read a few books on it, all published before 1923 and therefore free. (Lots of free books available on the Internet, pre-1923 no copyright issues.) I can put documents on there and read them, so instead of taking 100 pages of a project home and knowing after 50 it isn’t right for us and still having to lug it around, I can close it and move on to the next thing, which I have with me on my handy-dandy device. I am also giddily imagining what it would be like to go on vacation without packing a suitcase full of books. If I’m going away for a week of relaxation, I need at least 5 books, and at that I’ll usually run out and have to buy some. So I can’t wait to buy a few titles and download some old free-but-good books, and take one small device along for the ride.

Do I think this will ruin publishing as we know it? I think it will change it for sure. There’s a lot of debate over whether e-books are priced fairly, for instance, although that’s a separate post altogether. And it is a different experience. But having words available at my fingertips without the downsides of my beloved books is pretty amazing, and I have to say I’m thrilled with my new Kindle.

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