Things you never expect to say
Wow. Now I can honestly say that in my wildest dreams and nightmares I never thought that those words would come out of my mouth. The future is here and I accidently embraced it.
Yeah. I’m Kindlized.
And a bit ashamed of it. I mean, as a reader, Amazon’s Kindle is pretty awesome. Thin. Portable. Easy to read. But as an author, the idea of having a book exist only as ones-and-zeros rather than as paper and ink… it’s… well… awful.
Actually, this Kindle came with the name “Wil’s Third Kindle.” Yeah, technically it’s true. I bought my first Kindle quite a while back when the whole discussion of should-we -or-shouldn’t-we make the Born-Again Diabetic into an eBook came up. I needed to see what it was all about. At the time, I was underwhelmed. Yeah, I liked the size. The weight. The sexy skinniness. I liked the electric ink screen (it looked more like a printed page than a computer screen). I liked the fact that a reader with poor eye-sight could make the letters bigger.
But I didn’t like the fact that the art of page design was destroyed. And I didn’t like the fact that the tactile joy of reading a book was gone. The texture of paper under fingertips. The comforting weight in your lap. The smell of ink on paper. The sensual whisper of a page turning had been replaced by a momentary blackening of the screen.
Even though I personally didn’t care for the whole eBook thing, I didn’t want my snobbery to get in the way of the flow of information. I had a hunch that the digital native crowd, those born after the PC, might never want to read in any other way. And as a author who is really an educator first and an author second, getting my message out is what is most important.
I grudgingly gave the go ahead for my book to join the ranks of the eBook.
That First Kindle collected dust next to my desk for months until my 83-year-old mother made off with it. Also a bookie like me (not that kind of bookie!), she nonetheless developed a quick love affair with the device and overdrew my checking account buying eBooks for it. Apparently the Kindle was set up to pay for books from my checking account. As neither my mother or I pay very much attention to things like checkbooks or bank statements, her Kindle library cost me quite a bit, with the repeated overdraft fees and all.
Anyway. My Second Kindle was the free software for my desktop. I downloaded it to review the final electronic “translation” of the Tiger book, which was even more depressing. Tiger has some real cute graphics, and a killer layout. On paper. Not so much so as an eBook. But again, if the words can’t stand apart from the layout, they probably aren’t worth reading, right?
Then, recently, I had a problem at work. Well, the problem was really in my head when my head was at work. My new (third in five years) office is on a main hallway. When I don’t have a patient, I leave my office door open. Partly because my office is the size of two postage stamps and it runs out of oxygen quickly and partly because I want to be available if one of the nurses or docs needs me.
Now in the course of any given day at least one person is late or does not show up for an appointment. I try to make good use of this time, often by reading about some aspect of diabetes. But when I try to read a book, I feel guilty. No one has ever said anything to me about it, but sitting at my desk with a hardback in my lap, to my pathetic brain, just doesn’t look right.
One day recently, one verrrrrrrrry slow day, I was dealing with this mental battle and the thought occurred to me that if I had an eBook in my lap no one would know if I was reading the New England Journal of Medicine or the uncensored version of The Illustrated History of Prostitution in Eastern Europe. And I’d look appropriately professional and busy in either case.
So my Third Kindle arrived a few weeks ago. I downloaded Dr. Tattersall’s new book Diabetes: A Biography and was shocked to find my Tiger quote in the prologue attributed to someone else (an honest mistake that will be fixed on the next printing); but from that point onward it was all uphill between me and the Kindle.
Originally, my intent was to keep the Kindle at my office. I had no plans to give up on my beloved paper books at home! Well, but then it occurred to me that it would fit nicely in the pocket of my Go-Bag with all my diabetes survival supplies. One never knew when one would be stuck somewhere wishing one had brought a book along.
So K-3 traveled back and forth to work with me and out and about where ever I traveled.
Then this last week a nasty bug was making the rounds (the clinic would be a great place to work if all these sick people didn’t keep coming in) and I was at home sick for the last four days. It is one of those gastro-intestinal things that is incompatible with having the 25-pound The Coming Plague in your lap, which was my current light reading at home.
So I broke out the Kindle, and damn it I like it. I really like it. It holds more books than I have time to read. It weighs nothing, fits nicely in the hands, and can be read indoors or out. This morning is was a beautiful Spring day. I sat out on our back porch, the sun shining straight on the off-grey screen and read with no eye strain until the afternoon storms rolled in, thunder booming down the canyons, the cool storm air sending shivers down my spine, driving me back inside where I curled up in a warm corner.
In fact, now I’m in love. Guiltily, still, but in love. So kicking and screaming (on the inside at least) I’ve been drug into the new world. But there are still some things that’ll I’ll never say, like…
Oh, hold on a sec, I need to go plug in my book.