I stood in line for a while yesterday. I pulled out the magazine I had tucked in my tote bag and didn’t worry about time. I was happy to be in this line on the second day of early voting in Texas. A pleasure, not a task.
I didn’t make the best choice in my reading material. The article I’d picked was way too serious for stop-and-start slow walking accented with lots of chatter. My mind drifted back four years to the same location but a much longer line. I didn’t mind waiting that time either. In fact, even less than now.
`In 2008, Kindles were new on the market. I’d taken mine and stood lost in my latest thriller. The woman behind me became fascinated. She’d never seen one. I showed her. Then I showed her my library. We’d owned it since May, and believe me, the library was ample. Then, then I topped it off.
“I’ll show you how to order.”
There’s always the book I’m going to buy next. Zap. Here ‘twas.
I thought we were going to lose her. She grabbed the Kindle with one hand and her husband with the other.
“Look at this! Look at this! We are getting one right now.” She took a step out of line. Apparently, this was more important than voting, no matter that we’d already been in line for an hour.
He pulled her back. “Okay, Sweets, we’ll get one. Just as soon as we’ve voted.”
Things change a lot in four years. Kindles and other e-readers are standard appliances, almost like a toaster. For many though they still evoke strong feelings. Take my kids. My older son, like my friend Anne, is having nothing to do with it. A book is a book. Binding, pages, touch, smell. End of discussion.
My younger son is at the opposite end of the spectrum. He no longer owns books. All gone. Off to the library or the second hand store. Now, he travels probably 80 percent of the time. He says his life changed when he got the reader. No longer does he suffer back ache from lugging twelve books in his carryon. “How do I know what I’m going to want to read in five days?” He’s got as many books as he wants at his fingertips.
My daughter is in between. She loves her Kindle. When she moved from Atlanta, like her brother, she gave away books, but, unlike her brother, not all of them. She kept the ones she loves—several hundred. And she’s not averse to a Sunday afternoon browsing around in a bookstore. But her Kindle is never far away.
I’m most like her. I love the accessibility. The book can go with me. I have an app on my phone, so if I’m seriously stuck—try the dentist’s waiting room—I can pick right up where I left off. My kids—even Mr. A-Book-Is-A-Book—went together and updated me to a Kindle Fire for Mother’s Day. Such luxury. I can read the paper, check my e-mail, and best of all, wake in the middle of the night and catch a few pages without even waking the cat. The library is huge, especially since I found out about free books.
Still, in the morning, I want a newspaper in my hand as I sip my coffee. Some books, for me, need to be held, and read—sometimes even caressed. For light reading, something I probably won’t read again. Give me the Kindle. But I do some heavy reading too. I want to underline, flip back, flip forward, make notes in the margin. Yes, I know you can do it on the device, but I want to do it with my hand.
I love to share books. I pass them along. I relish getting one from a friend. For that, I want a real book.
Don’t call me undecided. Just don’t ask me to vote on the K-candidate or the book candidate. I want them both.
How do you feel? How do you vote?