I defy you to name a more amiable and lovely 18-year-old than Libby, my niece. She is simply a joy to be around. Libby and her parents recently paid us a visit, and she introduced me to her Kindle, an e-reader sold by Amazon.com. I was aware of its existence, but I’d never seen one first hand.
I have always been a bit of a purist when it comes to books. To select my next book, I prefer browsing through Borders as opposed to searching on Amazon.com. Yet, the practicalities and the cost savings have made my trips to Borders few and far between. When I read a book I like to feel it in my hands. My eyes are calibrated for ink on paper. All of my finished books go on the shelf beside my Junior High Chess Championship trophy. “Hey everyone, look what I read.” E-books yield none of the pleasures described above (or do they).
After holding the Kindle in my hands, I was most struck by how thin and light it was. Also, I expected a typical computer type display – an LCD screen. But instead, the Kindle has this unique interface that reads as softly as the page of a book.
Libby showed me all the cool features, and taught me that Kindle books actually cost less than hardcover books (could I afford not to buy a Kindle?). Libby explained how she can order books and have them downloaded within sixty seconds, not delivered in seven days, and without shipping costs. In no time at all, I felt that old familiar pull I have for cool, new gadgets. I would have a Kindle.
Here’s the deal. Reading books and newspapers has become a physical challenge for me. I find hardcover books to be heavy, and I have trouble finding a comfortable position to set the book in so that I can turn the pages with ease. Toting books around to places like parks and waiting rooms is a chore.
Kim and I had been on a bit of a spending spree, however, what with the new power chair in my van and the new power bed in my bedroom. So I put the Kindle (a power book of sorts) on my mental wish list. It's not expensive- like a TV set or a laptop computer- only $139. Maybe I would get it for Father's Day, on my birthday, or at Christmas. Despite my reluctance to dole out the cash for a Kindle, I never stopped talking about it.
A couple of weeks after Libby's visit, Kim volunteered to play in a charity basketball game – the teachers versus the kids at her middle school. There was also a raffle. Have I mentioned that Kim wins a lot of raffles and various other contests? We almost never pay for tickets to concerts, and we often dine for free. Back in 1986, when we were just starting out, she won a $1,000 shopping spree. We were so poor at the time that it felt like we had won the Powerball jackpot.
When Kim came home from the charity basketball game she sported a sly grin, having thought for the last 30 minutes or so how this would play out. I noticed that she clutched a shopping bag in her right hand, and she said, "You are going to love me."
I looked at the bag, and I began to imagine the possibilities. Often, Kim comes home from events like these with leftover goodies. "Chocolate?" I dared to ask.
"Oh no," she responded, "It’s something much better than that." I couldn't, for the life of me, fathom what could be better than chocolate.
She reached in the bag and pulled out a box, of just the right size, with Amazon.com printed on the side. My heart rate jumped.
"No!" I said.
“Yes!" came her reply.
I opened the box and inside was a shiny new Kindle. I was more delighted than a child on Christmas morning.
The Kindle has been everything I hoped it would be. It has reinvigorated my passion for reading. I can read wherever and whenever I like. The Kindle fits nicely in the pouch of my wheelchair, and I can take it with me wherever I go. Best of all, the only physical requirement is that I can wiggle my right thumb ever so slightly in order to operate the Kindle and turn its virtual pages. That should be doable for a while.
I went online and found a protective case that doubles as a stand. See the photo to the right.
I especially appreciate the combined benefit of these two new toys- my Kindle and my Power Bob bed. After all, isn't reading in bed one of life's finer pleasures?