Just eBook It, Already


In preparation for my impending move, I recently decided to clean out my books. As one might expect of someone who has two degrees in English (and not the useful kind for teaching writing skills, but the impractical “literary studies” kind for reading books and having opinions about them), I’ve got … a lot of books. A ceiling-to-floor wall’s worth of books, stacked and double stacked atop each other like a disorganized library.

So, last week I took every book off the shelf and carefully went through the whole lot. It took hours. I reminisced, holding my tattered, highlighted copies of Woman Warrior and The Catcher in the Rye from high school English. I lovingly set aside Lolita and other books my favorite college professor had extolled.

By the end I had accumulated more than 100 books to sell at Bookoff or donate to the library.

As I sat on my bed and looked at the pile on the floor, I felt … guilty. There was nothing wrong with these books. They were all very fine books. In another lifetime, I know I would have read each and every one over and over.

But in this life, I know I don’t have the time or the inclination to read many of these books, and so they are better off in someone else’s hands, instead of just yellowing away on my shelf.

It struck me then that it had been a really long time since I had bought a physical book — more than a year, probably.

I’m a converted eBook aficionado now. Kindle Paperwhite, to be exact. (Aside from my general nonchalance about Amazon taking over my life, I find that Kindle has good support, performance and that oh-so-pretty white screen going for it. I’d just be worried to buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook with the precarious state of brick-and-mortar bookstores these days.)

Oh, I was resistant at first. You can’t beat the feel of paper on your fingers, I’d say. It’s harder to remember details when you read on a screen. It’s just not as intimate. Maybe I just like being old-fashioned!

The lady doth protest too much, me-thinks.

My defeat is thus: my kingdom for convenience. Amazon plied me with free books every month, and it was a lot easier to shove a Kindle in my purse (or pop open the app on my phone) than it was to carry the brick that is the 1,040-page A Clash of Kings.

I can read a chapter or two of something while waiting for someone, instead of just looking at Facebook. I mean, I’ve got 60 books on the thing right this second. Recent highlights in my reading: the cheesy-but-hey-it-was-free I Am Livia, about the passionate love of Augustus Caesar and Livia Drusilla, and The Song of Achilles, the most beautiful reimagining of the Trojan War ever written, ever.

If this is modernity, then I don’t want to go back to the old ways.

Not least of all because of that forlorn pile of unloved books on my floor, waiting for new homes.

Editor’s Note: Staff writer Paige Takeya is temporarily filling in for Christa Wittmier. Follow Paige on Twitter @lordmayocloud. Christa’s SuperTech column will return shortly.