The Game Changer

A good friend gifted me with a book last week.  One with a binding, covers, and lots of pages in between.  I haven’t read one of those for a while, and I’m looking forward to it.

This was the year I stopped running away from the digital life.  Instead, I turned around and embraced it.  And that includes my Kindle.  I should say especially my Kindle.

I’ve had it for a year now, and I’m on my 18th book.  I’ve never read 18 books in a year.  They include biographies (Mickey Mantle, Ted Kennedy, George Steinbrenner), the Stieg Larsson “Girl” trilogy, a couple of Anthony Bourdain’s peculiar memoirs, and dashes of Hiaasen, Russo, and DeMille.

It’s not that reading ebooks is easier than reading a traditional volume.  Really, reading is reading.  What it’s about is convenience.  The Kindle fits perfectly in a compartment on the little cooler I bring dinner to work in, so I read over dinner.  And if I have a few minutes to kill waiting for an appointment, or in the car, I have the Kindle app on my smartphone.  Knock off a half a chapter, then move on.  It’s perfect for a portable life.

Right now, I’m reading Bill Bryson‘s At Home: A Short History of Private Life.  I’ve enjoyed Bryson’s memoirs of growing up in the midwest and of his travels, but this is a different animal, in which he takes us through each room of his house in England, an old Victorian parsonage, and recounts the history behind each room.

It’s not the easiest read at times, and when I think he’s hopelessly bogged down in minutiae, he uncorks what I call a “fascinating fact” that keeps me going.  This is from the chapter, “The Dining Room.”

One popular American guidebook, The Laws of Etiquette; or, Short Rules and Reflections for Conduct in Society, informed readers that they “may wipe their lips on the table cloth, but not blow their noses with it.”

Who knew?

The iPad was released not long after I got my Kindle, and my first reaction was, great, I just got this thing and it’s already obsolete.  Happily, that has not turned out to be the case.  Yet.

The pros and cons of the Kindle can be debated, but the value of local bookstores cannot.  I still patronize them, and I don’t write this to patronize regular blog reader and commenter Wendy, who happens to own a bookstore called The Turning Page in Old Lyme.  Or owned.   (Wendy, I hope you didn’t fall victim to the technology.  Please feel free to update us in a comment.)

Whatever you read and however you read it, thank you for reading this blog when you have a moment to spare.  It’s much appreciated. 

Besides, we’re all in this together.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in Digital World, It's all about me, Media, People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Game Changer

  1. Linda says:

    Our library was inudated with e-book questions this year. We are embracing this technology because we have found that our paper materials circulation is still increasing every month. We even offer classes on how to use several different devices. Our library offers free downloadable books for just about every device – except Kindles. I’m not sure why not – probably something to do with Amazon. For most other devices, you can download a book – for free – and it stays on the device for 2 weeks – then it magically disappears! So everyone can visit a book store, visit a library and visit an on-line vendor and enjoy reading!

  2. Wendy says:

    Well, now that I’ve calmed down and unruffled my tail-feathers, I can respond. I was seething by the end of the first paragraph, but then rapidly gave a sigh of relief when you commented on the importance of independent, small bookstores. Whew! Thank you for not patronizing me and for remembering the store.
    The Turning Page is hanging on, but struggles to do so. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. all hurt the independent stores. Kindle has made a huge difference in sales and will continue to do so; the entire publishing world has changed because of it. Even authors, established ones, talk about the impact of technology. However, I will admit that it probably is a good way to take books on a trip, to the beach, and enables one to read while grabbing a bite to eat.
    Personally, I feel sorry for those who never hold a book, deckled pages, leather bound, smell it and feel it in their hands and soul as some books certainly affect the reader powerfully. Somehow, reading a book on a screen doesn’t appeal to me very much. I want to curl up with a book, blanket, fire in the fireplace, hear the rain falling and lose myself in another place and another time.
    If an e-book offers a convenient way of reading, go for it! It’s just not my choice. By the way, Gerry, you’ve been reading some great books. Good choices!! Keep reading everyone! Enjoy!

    • Gerry says:

      It is a dilemma. I get at least an email a day from B&N. By and large, I try to read a “book book” at home, and an ebook elsewhere. And there’s still nothing like browsing a bookstore, large or small.
      I do miss handing a book over for someone else to read. On the other hand, I rarely re-read a book (except “Ball Four”) so I’m not terribly concerned about building a personal library, or having a bunch of books on display.
      And you know I wish you the best of luck with the store.

  3. Steve L says:

    I’m with Wendy on this one. Until I am forced to give up print for digital , I’m sticking with the “real” thing. Still haven’t got over being forced to buy CD’s over 8-Tracks.

  4. Li'l Em-Kel says:

    Gerry, I spent more than 25 years writing professionally, proofreading, and copy editing. I currently spend a fair amount of time reading “book” books and non-book materials on the web. To me there is a distinct and pronounced difference between reading a piece of paper and reading a computer screen. I’ve never used a Kindle, but it seems to me the experience would be the same as reading from a computer. Your post seems to indicate otherwise – and you’re not the first person I know who has embraced the technology. Is reading a Kindle different from reading a screen? How so?

    (And Wendy, thanks to you I learned a new word today.)

    • Gerry says:

      Let me begin by pointing out that what the Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc is doing to bookstores, the internet has been doing to so-called “old media” for several years now. Newspapers are struggling to survive, and television news (local and otherwise) has suffered mightily. The digital genie has left the bottle and we’re not about to stuff him back in.

      Now, to your point. The Kindle isn’t like reading off a computer, nor is it preferable to reading a printed page. The screen is not backlit, and the background is a soft gray. You can adjust the size of the copy, and perhaps most importantly, it’s flat. Big deal? Yes. I can read and eat dinner at work at the same time. That gives me an extra half-hour to read my book. And the smartphone app is there to fill up the 5 minutes in a waiting room that would otherwise be spent staring at the ceiling. It is an appliance of convenience.

      None of the Kindle people who have responded (also on my Facebook page, where I also post the blog) have sworn off hardcovers. If anything, it makes them appreciate them even more. OK, I’m done now. I think.

  5. Gene says:

    I too never thought I’d ever embrace a Kindle. Well… I got one for Christmas and it’s never been out of reach since. (Got it the week before) As a bibliophile I’m lucky in that I can read a book more than once and enjoy it just as much the tenth time as the first. So many free classics available for the Kindle! And I thought, “yeah, right. Just a little computer screen.” But it gets lost in the read. I, like you Gerry, have the Kimble app on my phone. One of my greatest fears is being somewhere with nothing to read. Now, that fear is far less. Oh yeah: Just finished “Rhoge Island” by: Bruce DeSilva. Dy-no-mite read. On the Kindle, of course.


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