I'm infatuated by the Kindle I bought last weekend. I'm in thrall to it. It accompanies me everywhere. I can no longer imagine how I managed for so long without it.
Over the last year or so I've had many discussions with friends about whether or not to buy a Kindle. A range of advantages were argued - that you could buy books more cheaply; that you no longer had to find storage for books; that a wide range of books was easily available; even that it is good for the environment not to produce paper books. But no one mentioned what in fact has converted me so immediately. It's just that the Kindle is so light and easy to carry in my handbag. It is simply so convenient. I'm one of those people who must have something to read if I need to wait ten minutes for a train. If I'm by myself, I can't imagine having coffee without something to read. One of my great pleasures is reading over breakfast. I can't go to sleep without reading. The Kindle is so light and small that I can have it with me all the time, and, because it is wireless, I can download books any time, almost anywhere. No more panicking when I run out of books to read while traveling.
Some people have asked me whether I miss the tactile sensation of reading a paper book - the pleasure of page turning and the physical sensation of making your way through the book. I feel slightly embarrassed to admit that I miss none of these sensations. I think books for me have always been about the story and the words. I've never been very good at caring for books. I'm just as happy reading a tatty paperback as I am reading a hardback; I spill food on my books from time to time, turn down the corners of pages to mark my place, and occasionally squash them in bed when I fall asleep while reading. So the abandonment of paper for an electronic format hasn't bothered me (though I'll have to wait and see how it copes with spilled coffee and breakfast crumbs).
The Kindle has none of the glamour and pizzazz of an i-pad. On the whole it's grayly utilitarian. But I have been charmed by the range of screensavers (if that's the proper word) it has in its resting state. It displays in random sequence a number of different black and white geometric designs - all based on previous reading technologies - calligraphic designs, pencils, pens, typeface. I imagine these designs are used to suggest that the Kindle and its kind are just the next step in written communication. I'm hoping there's no irony in the designs.
I have to think about how my Kindle purchase affects my 12 books in 2012 book-buying challenge. I guess I'll just have to count the books I buy for the Kindle. But what do I do about free books - those out of copyright? Do I count them, or, because I don't pay for them, are they more akin to book borrowing or using a library?
So far I'm charmed by my Kindle. Quite infatuated.