Three Kindles and Counting

I didn’t buy my first Kindle because I was all hot to read words on a screen instead of on the page. I didn’t—and still—don’t enjoy reading material on my PC monitor and I figured the Kindle would be about the same.

I bought it because I have bookshelves in every room of my house (literally, including the bathroom) and they were all full. Every time I bought a book I had to get rid of a book, to a friend or the library or the attic. I didn’t have any more books I was willing to get rid of.

So I bought a first-generation Kindle. This was back when you didn’t have any real options. There was no Fire, no HDX, no Paperwhite, just a Kindle. It was black print on a small grey screen and it didn’t do much besides show the pages of print.

I was dubious. It seemed like it would be a great loss to not experience the color and texture of the book cover, the heft and smell of the book itself, the pleasure of turning over a new leaf. There is something about picking up a “physical book” (as they are called nowadays), whether it’s brand new or treasured old, that I felt could never be equaled by some little electronic device that just popped virtual words onto a screen.

And, no question, I was right: None of those experiences, and they are all good experiences, can be captured with a Kindle or a Nook or an iPad or whatever e-reader you care to mention.

Plus it was a little awkward at first. As far as I could recall I’d never had a learning curve with a book, so it was odd that I had to learn the mechanics of reading again: how to open books, turn pages, bookmark, make notes, etc. For the longest time I didn’t know what the hell a “collection” was.

But I learned it, and then got comfortable with it, and then fell in love with it. I think the love happened when I was reading the New York Review of Books (yes, on my Kindle) and was intrigued by a particular title; it was a book that really excited me and I wanted to have it as soon as possible. Still thinking in technologically medieval terms of shipping dates and delivery times, I went to the Amazon website and realized that all I had to do was “click here” to have the book on my Kindle thirty seconds later. Then I was in love, for sure.

Just as I never intended to have a Kindle at all, I certainly never intended to have three of the damned things. But I do like toys and the Fire, when it came out, seemed like quite a nice toy. Then there was the HDX, an even bigger and better toy. Plus, with the Fire and the HDX I didn’t even need to go to my PC to get that book in thirty seconds; I could do it right on the eReader.

So, over time, I ended up with three Kindles. Actually I wish I could think of some rationalization to buy a Paperwhite. They look really neat. But I can’t do it. Really. I can’t.

I still have all those bookshelves jam packed with all those “physical books” and, now, added to them are a thousand or so more “eBooks” in the Amazon cloud that I can read on my Kindles. It’s like having an infinite extra bookcase.

Exactly what I needed.

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