Confessions of a Kindle Convert
Physical books made me a writer, but ebooks made me a daring reader
When I mingle with an audience after I do a reading, I inevitably encounter at least one person who tells me, sheepishly, that they read my book on Kindle. They say it heavily, by way of a confession or an apology. This mystifies me. I am thrilled that anyone reads what I’ve published, and I’m absolutely agnostic about the format they choose. In fact, I do most of my reading on a Kindle.
Before I go further, I should say that I love physical books, and I absolutely love physical bookstores. Love them dearly. I owe my career to the support I’ve received from independent bookstores, which advocate for authors and lead readers to new and sometimes less-than-obvious choices of books. And still, I mostly read on my Kindle.
I never expected this to be the case, because the feel of a physical book was so delicious to me. But about ten years ago, when I was heading on a trip, I decided to try a Kindle just for the novelty of it. I loaded one book on it, and about a quarter of the way into the book (and the trip), I realized I didn’t like the book. There were no bookstores nearby. I was so new to the Kindle that it took me a while to realize I could order another book right off the machine itself. When it arrived, in an eye-blink, I was dazzled. From that point forward, I stopped carrying books with me when I traveled. In an era of trying your best to only fly with carry-on luggage, the space savings alone was noteworthy. It also eliminated having to decide which book I would take with me — I could take an almost unlimited number of them, or get something different once I was on the road if I changed my mind.
Most of my reading is done at night, in bed. I’ve bought every kind of book light and I hate them all. I’m not trying to sell you a Kindle, but I do love the fact that it’s illuminated, and that I can make the text big, for my late-night tired eyes. Physical books are static, and that’s part of what makes them so appealing; they’re objects that have been designed and created to have a certain effect. Ebooks reduce the experience of the book to something almost vaporous, a whisper, as if the book traveled to you on the wind. Oddly, that makes them more like where the whole undertaking of…