Sometimes I run out of things that annoy me. It’s a weird feeling, when you’re me and you suddenly realise that for 6 months you’ve been writing about things you actually do rather than those that irritate the hell out of you. Suddenly you wonder if your purpose in life has evaporated like a damp annoyed mist in the radiant sunlight of a world filled with things that actually work.
Then you have the same conversation you have had 40 times already, the unjustifiably emphatic irritation resurfaces, and the world makes sense again.
I have a kindle. For anyone who does not know this because they have spent the last 2 years hiding under a rock with their eyes closed and their fingers in their ears humming a jaunty Broadway tune they have not yet seen the Glee version of, a kindle is an e-book reader. It uses a technology called e-ink that means the display screen looks identical to a paper page. It is not backlit, and looks nothing like a computer screen of any kind. Because as previously stated it looks like paper, goddammit.
I love books. But much more to the bloody point I love reading. People for some reason view kindles as soulless objects that simply do not have the touch and feel of real books. To me this is akin to eschewing mp3 players because vinyl had character. Yeah, it did. Records are lovely, books are beautiful. Technology is BETTER. Unequivocally, totally, definitely better.
Kindles are not perfect. I will grant you that a book does not run out of battery, even after a whole 3 weeks. On the other hand, a kindle involves cutting down no trees, is the size of a small notebook, and holds three thousand books. Ah but wait, it does have a major flaw. One glaring, massive issue that I shit you not every single person I have ever talked to about a kindle has said to me. Every. Single. One.
It doesn’t smell like paper.
Yes, this is what we want from technology. That it smell different. Because Alexandre Dumas clearly has less insight into the human psyche when his words are transferred via a medium without that crisp new-book odor. Are you people fucking serious? This machine is amazing. It is compact, pretty, doesn’t strain your eyes, and can be held in one hand while lying in bed about to drop off to sleep. And it holds 3 thousand books! Is that not wondrous and amazing? Is it not lovely when you finish a book in the middle of a long train journey and just flip to the next one in the series, or switch genres because you felt like some Isaac Asimov before bedtime.
The books are cheaper, you can lose the device itself but not the data if you bought it from Amazon. You can also manually put books on it without going via the official site. I guess I am just curious as to what the hell it is you want from the damn thing. I mean granted it is not actually a flying car, but I am pretty sure its one of those “yey! We live in the future!” things. No, it doesn’t do what an iPad does. Then again it also doesn’t have a monthly bill or a battery life of 10 hours, or cost $600 dollars.
Perhaps I am just biased. I fly constantly, I read very fast, and I have an exasperating habit of moving to a new country every few years. The kindle is not perfect, for a start it doesn’t support graphic novels and about the 17th time I drop it from a height tends to start rattling scarily when shaken. But then I am reliably informed it is not ideal to drop expensive electronics on the floor. Despite its fairly minor shortcomings though it has been one of the best things I have ever purchased, and should I lose/break/donate to Will-It-Blend a dozen more of them I will probably still buy another one.
Someday, someone will whine that those new hyper efficient skull implants that interface directly from your brain to the internet just don’t have have the feel of freshly molded matte plastics.