Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, December 11, 2008

me and my Kindle

I pause in my Manhattan festivities to bring you this message.

One day a few months ago, I stood in my local Borders bookstore with a big pile of books in the crook of my arm. I had Neal Stephenson’s new novel Anathem — which I ended up reviewing in these virtual pages, another Stephenson novel I hadn’t managed to catch up to, a couple of large works of history, including Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation . . . my arm was starting to hurt. I found a seat and looked over my haul. I wanted them all, but . . . well, the print was pretty small in a couple of them — an increasingly significant factor as my eyes age in ways that optometric technology can only imperfectly address. Most of them, I noticed, because of their size, would be at least a little awkward to handle. And then, where was I going to put them? Every time I bring books to my house or office I have to get rid of other books, or store them somewhere, in order to make room for the new arrivals.

Forget this, I said to myself. I’m getting a Kindle. And I did.

I’ve now read a dozen or more books on my Kindle, and my verdict is: I love it. I don't use it to read every kind of book, and wouldn't even if every kind of book were available on the Kindle; it has distinct limitations; but I love it. And I think the critique of it made by the otherwise admirable Christine Rosen, in the most recent issue of The New Atlantis, is generally off base. In future posts, I’ll explain what I think is so great about the Kindle, why I think Rosen’s criticisms largely misfire, and which among limitations of the current Kindle can and cannot be overcome in future versions. So please stay tuned.