Kindle Didn’t Start a Fire

archives_coverart4I keep hearing that one of the top gifts for the holidays this year will be an e-reader.  Below, is an essay I wrote about receiving the Kindle two years ago for Christmas.  It originally appeared in the literary magazine SLAB (Sound and Literary Art Book) last spring.  Since I wrote the essay, my husband, my teenage son and my tweener daughter all tried reading from the Kindle and they all returned it to my drawer.  It just isn’t for us. 

That being said, I have had enough experiences in the last year (i.e. accompanying my daughter to an American Idol concert) where I thought ‘if I had an iPhone, I would be reading a book on it right now.’  The moment Verizon and Apple reach a deal (please, please soon), I’ll be buying an iPhone and guess what my first app will be?

My thoughts on the Kindle

Years ago, for Christmas, my husband gave me a stack of books he chose with a book store clerk after describing me to her.  I haven’t read them all, but every time I see one on the bookshelf, I feel loved.  For my birthday, a girlfriend gave me a book I wanted but hadn’t told her about, and I felt known. (FYI, this is Claire.)  For my 40th birthday I asked all of my friends to give me a book that was meaningful to them, as a way to learn about them.  Last Christmas, as my kids ran out to see what Santa delivered, my daughter called over her shoulder, “you have a stack of books Mommy!”  But Santa had brought those books for my mother, and when I realized that, I was disappointed.  Instead of books my husband bought me the Kindle, reasoning there was no reason to buy me any real books when I could download them. 

At that moment, I didn’t feel known. 

A month before Christmas, our copy of Newsweekarrived with Jeff Bezos on the cover announcing the Kindle, a small computer book reader.  As I looked at that cover I felt uneasy, and that night my husband read the article and handed it to me as he rolled over to sleep.  “You have to read this,” he said, “you’ll love it.”  I looked at the magazine curled up in the valley of the comforter between our two bodies and felt a rush of anxiety.  I Continue reading

Green Apple Books Decathalon – Book vs. the Kindle

I keep chuckling at the videos Green Apple Books of San Francisco, CA produces pitting the book against the Kindle.  Round 1, called “The Buy Counter,” documents the difference between a customer trying to sell back used books and pocketing $80 and another trying to sell back 10 books off his Kindle.  Green Apple couldn’t resist several instances of the used book buyer holding the Kindle and saying “where’s the book?”

A dinner party with friends last week reminded me of round 3, “Sharing.”  A friend went on and on about a book that detailed the downfall of our monetary system in a readable and understandable manner.  My  husband was interested and asked to borrow it (he tries to even out my book buying habits with borrowing books from a friend or the library).  The friend said he read it on the Kindle and noted “yeah, that’s a problem with a Kindle.”  In the Green Apples video, the friend hands over his entire Kindle with all of the books he wants to read on it.  Kindles aren’t for sharing.

As a fan of chatting with bookseller’s, round 6 “Finding the Right Read,” is my favorite.  A customer wants to buy her boyfriend a book and describes what he likes, the difference between what a bookseller recommends and what the Kindle recommends is exactly the experience I’ve had trying to find a book on the Kindle.

Check out all of the videos on the Green Apple Bookstore blog, the final three will arrive this week.

The Battle Between the Kindle and the Book

While the hue and cry is that e-readers are the end of books and bookstores as we know them, there are a growing number of voices that are discussing innovative ways to attract readers of every format without eliminating any options.   As discussed earlier, purchasers of HarperStudio books can buy the audio version or the e-readers version for an additional $2 each.  Even cheaper, for one price a customer can purchase a NelsonFree book and receive a code to download the audio and the e-book versions for free. 

 My favorite take on the issue is David Pogue’s humorous battle between a Kindle2 and a book.  Mr. Pogue demonstrates each of their strentghs and argues that one won’t eliminate the other.

The Future of Reading

The National Endowment for the Arts Says We’re Reading More

Everyone’s seen this story: for the first time in  twenty-five years, the decline in reading in America appears to have been reversed.  According to the NEA’s statistics, reading is on the rise.  (If, by some crazy chance, you haven’t heard about this yet, you can read the NY Times’ coverage of it here.)  Since many people have spent a lot of time lately moaning about how our national computer addiction is going to destroy reading as we know it, this news comes as a welcome surprise to those of us who love books.

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, novelist Ann Patchett (Bel Canto) discusses the new statistics at great length and makes a plea for us all to continue the trend by reading, encouraging others to read, and by support ing our local libraries.  Patchett says she wasn’t surprised to hear that people are reading more: after all, this younger generation has grown up on Harry Potter and, as she puts it,  “They came of age attending midnight release parties at their local bookstores and then faking mysterious illnesses the next day for the absolute necessity of staying in bed to read. ” Continue reading