I used to be a voracious reader of books. Shoot, my first job (other than delivering newspapers and mowing lawns) was working in a public library shelving books. I am pretty sure I became a writer because I loved to read. I pretty much blame technology for depriving me of the pleasure of reading. Once I got my first Blackberry I had difficulty picking up a book and focusing on the printed page. I was too obsessed with checking e-mail, playing Brickbreaker and eventually surfing the Web.
So I find it ironic that technology has brought me full circle back to reading books. Well, technically electronic books. For I now have a Kindle.
Actually the Kindle was my Christmas gift for my wife. She is still a voracious reader and is a member of a book club with several of her friends. I thought it would be a cool way for her to step into the 21st Century and still indulge in her passion for reading. Apparently she was of the same mind. Because when she opened the package she got this funny look on her face. I immediately sensed I hadn't made the best choice.
She liked it, she said, but it was the gift she had debated getting me for Christmas. She told me she'd been researching them for months and decided at the last minute not to get one for me. "But you love to read," I protested.
"I love to read 'books'," she explained. "I like to turn real pages and hold a real book in my hands. You on the other hand love technology." She went on to remind me that I had been talking for years about how books would eventually disappear to be replaced by their electronic and much more efficient counterparts.
She was right. I agreed to "share" the gift. Which translates that I essentially am the only one who will use it. Putting aside my guilt, it has turned out to be pretty darned cool. I have abandoned my Blackberry on my commute and now have actually begun reading again. I am able to get my high-tech fix and reunite with my literary roots. I have even discovered that you can download lots of free books so so far I'm indulging my reading without any additional costs.
I had forgotten how cool it is to escape into a good book. And for those purists out there who think you need printed page in front of you to actually be "reading" I'll remind you that it is the content that makes a book great, not the cover (though I have a nice leather cover for the Kindle on order).
I predict that printed books will go the way of vinyl records. Think of all the trees that will be saved. Think of all of the untapped talent of writers who can be published for pennies instead of depending upon the bottom line of a traditional publisher who won't front the printing cost on an unproven commodity.
Libraries can become become virtual clearing houses for electronic books that can instantly be transmitted to multiple book readers versus doled out in archaic hard copies that can be mutilated, lost or stolen. Text books can now be distributed to all children and instantly updated so that knowledge isn't reserved for only those who can afford it.
My Kindle has obviously ignited a visionary flame in me. Now they only have to come out with a color version and then one that plays a musical soundtrack as you read. Then maybe "scents"-er-round so you smell what the characters are smelling.
Okay maybe not the smell thing. But color would be nice.
Anyway, thank you to my lovely and selfless wife for being gracious and turning my gift to her into a return to reading for me.