Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dear Kindle, we are not pals.

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I know I'm not about to write something that hasn't been said before, but I just have to say it- I love book stores.  Now I'm going to say something that maybe not as many people say these days- I hate my Kindle.  But look, I said it.  And I'm not taking it back.

Today I finished another really great book that I found at the library. An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer was a beautifully quiet yet intricate book that reminded my of Prep and even The Marriage Plot, if you've read those.  I highly recommend it.  So I finished my book, and being the kind of person that I am (some would say bookish) about an hour later, I was trying to decide what I was going to read next.

I remembered that The Glass Castle was a book I heard was really good.  So I went onto the NYPL website and saw that the reserve list was long.  And while I'm a fan of putting a book on reserve (getting that email that it's in weeks later always feels like a present) I was seeking instant gratification in that moment.  And that instant gratification feeling reminded me, oh yeah, I have a Kindle (it was given to me for work).  So I looked up The Glass Castle on Amazon, and while it was only $9.99, I just didn't want to spend ten bucks on something that didn't have pages or a cover or would be easy to lend to my mom when I was finished with it.  I had just finished reading a nice 340 page hardcover with really pretty cover art and that great library plastic wrapping over it (I have fantasized about stealing some plastic covers from work and covering all of my own hardcovers in it, but I digress).

I just couldn't do it.  So I looked up The Glass Castle on The Strand website and saw that not only did they have it in stock, but because they are a used bookstore it was only $7.95 (take that amazon and your expensive virtual-ness).

Due to summer time laziness, and living in Brooklyn though, I just didn't feel like taking the train into the city. But hold on, my story doesn't end here!  Alex came home from work.  I made dinner and then we decided to go for an evening stroll to our local bookstore Word.  We spent, I don't know, a half hour there, and although we need more books in our tiny apartment like a hole in our heads, we each bought ourselves a present.  And it felt good.  Really good!  Smooth pretty covers, paper that makes that crinkly sound.  Browsing the shelves and reading recommendations from staff members. Seeing books that I didn't even know existed and being reminded of ones that I had heard were good.  Which is what lead me to my purchase.  I didn't end up buying The Glass Castle but instead I went with Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed.  I had heard Cheryl Strayed on the Leonard Lopate show  not that long ago and really enjoyed the interview.  The sweet handwritten recommendation from a Word staff member sealed the deal.  And I ask you, is that the same thing as buying an eBook on Amazon? No.  No, it is not.

















I know the eBook is doing really good things for writers in this weird publishing world that we are currently living in.  I've even thought about publishing an eBook myself.  And I still might do it.  But I can't deny the fact that when I think about having my novel published, I think about what books it might sit next to on a library or bookstore shelf.  I think about signing a copy and giving it to my mom and dad, and I wonder what the cover art will be like.

Can we have eBooks but keep bookstores too?  I really hope we can, because going on amazon.com does not feel like a mini date.  It doesn't take you down tree lined streets where you can hold hands with your husband as the sun goes down.  You can't walk to Amazon, buy each other a present and then sit side by side in bed together reading it until you fall asleep.  I'm sorry Kindle, but you just can't.  So I'm going to go put The Glass Castle on hold at the public library right now, and then go read my new book.  And I have a pretty strong feeling I'll be lending it to my mom when I'm done.

Thanks for staying open till 9 on a Tuesday night, Word, you really made it a special one.

21 comments:

  1. Oh, I feel you! I absolutely hate Kindles with a passion. I would never, ever buy an ebook. It makes me feel all kinds of wrong inside!

    Becky
    xx

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    1. It does have this soul killing effect, doesn't it? :)

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  2. I find it super bizzare how expensive electronic books are compared to (even new!) real life books. Audiobooks as well, but that's another comment.
    I love second hand bookstores and I LOVE the smell of old books (just finished a copy of Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck from the 60s that smelled like vanilla and old wood. But then I have an old Anais Nin book that had clearly lived its 40 year life in the house of a heavy smoker and smelled like a tramp.)

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    1. If the price is helping a writer make a living, then I'm okay with it. But even that is suspect. Vanilla and old wood! Yes, I can totally smell that right now, and it smells like a book!

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  3. ah you really did take the words out of my mouth, didn't you? Nothing like print. Nothing.

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  4. I have a Kindle and I love it, but I still read a ton of real deal books. I am going on vacation tomorrow and taking my Kindle versus regular books. It's a convenience thing - I'm flying, camping, and spending 5 days at the beach. I want options and portability. A thick 500+ page book doesn't really provide that.

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    1. Yes! The first Kindle LOVER to comment. Thank you! I totally get what you're saying, I really do. And having a bunch of books available on a tiny light little thing has to be a turn on for any reader. Although I will say, one 500 page book on vacation is all I really need. I brought Jonathan Franzen's FREEDOM with me last year, and it was the perfect vacation book. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  5. I hate my Kindle, too. My inlaws bought me one, thinking I'd love it, and it just sits there, unused. It feels souless to me. Impersonal.

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  6. I don't think I'd ever get used to using a kindle. I depend so much on the library for my fill and there's nothing like aimlessly wandering my favorite sections and finding an unexpected read. You just can't do that in the same way via a screen. I do think there's a place for ebooks and I'm glad they're there for those who want them, but I need my paper pages and to be able to hold something tangible. Plus, when I own the book I always have a pencil nearby to mark favorite passages or sentences and I can't see having the same experience on a kindle.

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    1. Yes marginalia Kindle style is never as satisfying. Although I do think it's cool that you can tweet favorite passages very easily. There are pros and cons, it's true.

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  7. Love the ebook in a jiffy, but i'm with you...it's no minidate. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Kate! Yes, I can totally see how reading on a tablet with baby twins is a life saver :) What are you reading lately, btw?

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  8. Real cook books yes as kindles just cannot do justice to a cook book but all others books I am a kindle girl! Kindles take up no space and need no dusting! I love books but no dust an instant access have won me over!

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  9. I have a deep abiding love for physical books, too. I don't even own any type of e-reader. I've tried reading on one (my boyfriend has an iPad) but I just don't like it. I like the weight of an actual book in my hand, and turning the pages, and of course the cover art. I love the faint ink smudges you can get on your fingers from a newer book. Libraries and book stores are awesome, and I agree with the hope that we can keep those even in this new e-book world. It would be exceedingly sad if they were pushed out by the digital market.

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    1. The weight of an actual book. It's so true, right? And the smell!

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  10. I have a kindle, but I wanted it mostly to read free ebooks. Open access/public domain stuff. It's good for that, because now I can clear my shelves of some of the classics that are taking up space. (Note: only SOME of them...there's a handful I have a sentimental attachment to that aren't going anywhere.) I also want to use it for library ebooks (though I haven't yet). I just feel that if I'm paying for a book I want the physical kind. :)

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    1. Very good point. I've totally done the library ebook thing and it's amazing. You have to try it!

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  11. The cover of An Uncommon Education catches my eye every time! I loved Prep so I should probably give this one a go too, eh?

    I know exactly what you mean about buying books. I LOVE book shopping. I have a kindle too but I rarely ever use it. I just bought A Discovery of Witches as an ebook because it was one of those $1.99 daily deals, but every time I see it in the library I seriously consider checking it out because I miss the cover, the weight in my hands, etc. There's nothing like the real thing!

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