Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kindle

kindleDX_graphite-thumb-640xauto-15142I 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.

41XdhH8XJuL__SL500_AA300_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?

6 comments:

zoomdoggies said...

Great story, Mitch, and well told. I've been pondering an e-reader for a while now. I initially had the same reservations you did, but I also have the same problems reading regular books. I don't know if I still have enough function in my hands to use something like this, but I so want to give it a shot!

Have Myelin? said...

Oh I'm so glad you got one! I love, love, love my Kindle! At first I was kinda miffed, why would anyone want a Kindle when they could have a BOOK but it is so much easier to read, hold and click-click-click the pages turn, woohoo... and reading it in BRIGHT sunlight oh wowzie!

Plus all the free books. =)

And it does have audibles which is cool for me since I like to engage in what I call "auditory training" for my cochlear implant.

Glad you didn't have to pay for yours!

Muffie said...

Lucky you!! My daughter has a Nook -- I think it's a Barnes and Nobles product. She loves it. As a former teacher/principal, I had a ton of gift cards for bookstores. When I stopped working, that stash dried up quickly. Now I use the library, but I think I'm leaning toward going electronic.
Peace,
Muff

Webster said...

Mitch, it sounds wonderful. It's great that you can read it in bright daylight, but can you also read it in the dark of a bedroom at night? Just thinking of Kim trying to sleep next to you. LOL

Also, where can I find a list of the free books available?

@Muffie - does your library system have download-able e-books via Overdrive Media Console? It's a great way to listen to books while doing other things.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE my Kindle. The left arm became useless, I couldn't hold a book or turn a page. Reading was my life. I got my first Kindle, loved it and a week hadn't passed before I spilled 12 ounces of water on it. Without a second thought (does one think about breathing?) I ordered another one. Amazon sends me samples and then books. Many old classics are free and I always have something to read. The only good thing I've found about MS is I forget what details I've read and often re-read. I love my Kindle. I love books, made a library of mine when I was 10, have always had shelves and bookcases of books, but LOVE my Kindle.
kicker

Enjoying the Ride said...

Webster,

I purchased a reading light that fits perfectly with my case/stand:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZJUWHY

Here is a link to free kindle books:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_17?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=free+kindle+books&sprefix=free+kindle+books