Kindling

A little over a year ago, my dad bought a Kindle.

If you knew my dad, you’d know he was a gadget-loving sort of guy. He loves being the first around to own that new thing with the plugs and the screens and the User Interface.

Another thing about my dad — he loves to splurge on Christmas gifts for his family.

Meaning that when Christmas comes around, if he’s fallen in love with a new gadget, look out. You might be getting one, too.

And I didn’t want a Kindle.

I told him. Dad. Do NOT buy me a Kindle for Christmas.

It worked–that year.

But then I guess he must have forgotten–either accidentally or accidentally on purpose. Because this last Christmas, I opened an innocent-looking little box and there it was. Not the same version my dad has–mine is small, a footprint about the size of a mass market paperback. Which is good, I’m glad he didn’t spend too much money on it.

And I love it.

I love how little it is. I love that I can buy books completely on impulse. I love that I can buy books cheap. No more walking out of Barnes & Noble with 3 books, my checking account $100 lighter. I’ve downloaded something like 17 P.G. Wodehouse books to my Kindle for FREE–enough Wodehouse to keep me in a good humor for YEARS.

I’ve actually bought a few hardcover books since Christmas as well (I’m reading Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American Historyin hardcover right now — a gift from another of the sweet guys in my life — which is an amazing book btw). I don’t want to own everything in electronic form. I guess, for me, there are books I want to own as books, and books I purely for the experience of reading them . . . it dovetails with something I’m doing in general in my life, which is trying to shed stuff — I’m selling things, giving things away, anything to reduce my possessions to the bare minimum, to lighten my footprint, to make myself more mobile, more flexible. I’m comfortable that certain experiences are supposed to be ephemeral. I’m okay with experiencing some books as experiences rather than things.

Speaking of ephemera, ebook readers themselves aren’t necessarily settled out in their final form, IMO. My best guess is that some day there will be universal devices that offer an ereading experience close enough to the Kindle’s that we won’t need dedicated devices.

But in the meantime, come 9:30 at night when it’s 6 below zero outside, that’s me under the covers with my feet resting on a hot water bottle and a Kindle in my lap . . .

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