I have loved books for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest memories are of going to the library with my mother when I was a toddler. She'd check out books and we’d go home and she’d read them to me. I particularly loved one series, about a duck and a Scottie dog. My mother instilled a love of reading in me, an amazing feat considering she never finished high school and I never saw her read a book, except the ones she read to me.
I love the smell of books. When I walk into a bookstore or a library and inhale that book scent, I feel warm and calm all over. You book lovers out there know what I mean.
When I was a young teen I'd take the bus into the city to go to the library. We had only one library in the area, a large, elegant building stuffed to the high ceilings with books. I loved that place and I knew every inch of it. I visited my old library a few years ago when I worked in the city. As soon as I walked through the ornate doors, the rush I’d felt decades ago whenever I inhaled the familiar scent of books hit me as if time had stood still.
Are any of you familiar with the classic Twilight Zone episode where a bookworm is locked in a library after a nuclear attack? He's thrilled that he's surrounded by all those books with time to read them. Then he drops his eyeglasses and crushes them accidentally and can't see to read. That story still haunts me. I know exactly how he felt.
Why am I telling you how much I love books? Because I've found a new love - my Kindle. I resisted getting an ereader because I felt disloyal to paper books and I couldn't imagine an electronic device could take the place of a book. I finally broke down and ordered a Kindle in August 2010. I love it so much the date it came in the mail, September 18, 2010, is engraved in my memory.
Am I a traitor to "real" books? Like a dangerous lover, the Kindle is so seductive, so addictive. In my office I'm surrounded by bookcases filled to overflowing with books, most of which I haven't read yet. I sometimes feel those books are staring at me and thinking, "How could you abandon us?"
I plan to read all those books someday, yet when I want to read something, I reach for my Kindle. I love pressing that button to go to the next page. I love how I can change the font so it's easier to read. I love the feel of it in my hands, the weight and the compactness. I have a beautiful bright green cover on my white Kindle and I think it looks so stylish. A lot of people don’t cover their Kindles, but I want to protect my baby.
The Kindle works really well at the gym. I prop it on my exercise bike and I read away. Sometimes I'm so engrossed in a book that I go way over my usual miles. The Kindle as weight-loss program. Um. I can see the ads now, complete with celebrity endorsements. Marie Osmond riding an exercise bike while reading her Kindle.
Another benefit of the Kindle over print books is its ease when traveling. Now I can take my slim Kindle when I travel and not have to pack several large paperbacks. I have found one problem when traveling with the Kindle. I have to keep it in a secure place, like the in-room safe. Some hotels charge a small daily rate to use the in-room safe. I’ve paid the fee to protect my Kindle from theft. You can leave a print book in your hotel room and not worry about it. Maybe I’m too security conscious when I travel, but I won’t leave my Kindle out in the open.
There are other drawbacks to the Kindle. I don’t get a warning when the battery is low, as I do with my iPhone. At the gym the other day a woman was reading her Kindle on the bike next to me. Her battery died and she was left with nothing to read.
As much as I love my Kindle and love reading ebooks, I'm a bit cheap. I love free books. Who doesn't? Before I download a free book, I read the description. If it's a book that interests me I'll download it. I won't download a book I'm not interested in reading just because it's free. I have a price point beyond which I won't go. I won't pay more than $6.00 for an ebook. Many publishers price their ebooks at $9.99, more than a print book. That makes no sense and in my opinion does a disservice to the authors. Do I value ebooks as less important than print because I refuse to pay the publishers' high prices? I don't know. But that doesn't mean I love my Kindle less.
How about you? Do you have an ereader or are you holding out in loyalty to print books? If you have an ereader, do you love it and is there a price point beyond which you refuse to go?