Monday, March 09, 2009

Kindle, Darling, Take Me in Your Arms

Make the Imporssible Possible

Books. The sound of a single page turning. Curly black letters on ivory paper. Residual fragrance of woody beginnings. How I love books. They woo me, wow me, leave me speechless or set me to chattering. When I read with others (as in this new opportunity at High Calling Blogs)*, books can create living bonds.

What would it take for me to trade flipping pages for poking and scrolling a screen? I'm not there yet, don't own a Kindle. But I recall Joe Wikert of Kindleville discussing the future of reading as a layered experience, where we might click to find the meaning of a word, or click through to a wiki to discover the composition of vermillion, or poke the screen to bring up the history of the cotton gin.

This weekend I watched a Kindle Video at Amazon and learned that I can do just that. I can also carry magazines, newspapers and pounds and pounds of books on the Kindle (a very small knapsack for such a big load!) I can highlight sentences, paragraphs, or clip whole pages and add notes (where were you, dear Kindle, in my college days?). The new Kindle 2 will (how romantic!) even read to me if I like. Of course, there's a built-in search function in case I simply must retrieve all occurrences of the word kazoo, learn its definition and click through to the wiki or the web to discover the subtleties of kazoos.

Now, if only Kindle would host my blog (it hosts some blogs that probably avoid the use of words like kazoo) and allow me to compose blog posts right on screen using Zemanta to capture the text I want from the book I want and seamlessly create live links... I MIGHT be tempted to say, Kindle, darling, take me in your arms.

*Life without Kindle can still offer layered reading experiences, where the layering comes through personal exchange. If you'd like to join us at High Calling Blogs, we're about to read Make the Impossible Possible. Looking through the lens of Bill Strickland's work in transforming the lives of disadvantaged citizens, the book suggests, every one of us has the potential for remarkable achievement. Every one of us can accomplish the impossible in our lives if given the right inspiration and motivation to do so. You don't have to travel far to change the life you're living.

Book Stack By My Bed photo, by L.L. Barkat.

In Praise of Books

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Blogger Sarah said...

Did you know you can read Kindle via iPhone now? I'm using it as my main point of argument for Dave and I to switch to the iPhone, though it's not going so well. His comment? "On such a small screen???"


12:23 PM  
Anonymous Marcus Goodyear said...

Dave is probably right about that one, but I think the screen size is less of an issue than the resolution. The Kindle has that "read like a page" resolution that isn't as hard on the eyes.

Still, if I were king of the world, you bet I'd have a kindle and an iphone.

This is a great post, L.L. A little different for you, but I like the variety.

1:01 PM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

Wow, I'm so behind the times! I'm not sure if I'd like reading a book if I couldn't turn the pages. Is that silly? Maybe in a few years I'll be ready to think about the switch.

Can't wait 'till the 16th, the book club is going to be fun! It's a great book. Thanks for posting this!

1:29 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Hmmm. I think I am an old stick in the mud on this one. Not only do I love books in their substantial, pulpy form in general, but I love them dog-eared, old and marked down to nothing in the bargain bin because they are on their last half-dozen reads and have been studied, neglected and discarded by someone else whose mark is left on them before I have gotten to them. Nice crisp new books are amazing, too, but for an entirely different reason. This experience of other readers is part of how my "layered" reading works.

In addition, I already take advantage of the sort of "layered" experience of reading that is described in your post, because I look things up on the Internet or in other books when I don't know a word or wonder about the history of a custom or want to learn more about time or place. That often turns into a wider exploration, as a page on one subject sparks my interest in another and I read and explore more online. I don't know how much I value being able to do this same thing in a limited form by poking a virtual page when the alternative is walking 25 feet to my computer, when I consider what I would be giving up in the process.

I have read a few books online, including 1984, and while the method allowed me to read the book on demand without having to brave the walk to the campus library, it just wasn't the same. I was left wanting to own the book, not the file, and I now have an old used copy somewhere.

I fear the ultimate demise of the book (and of hand writing, for that matter) and don't fail to see Kindle's charms, but it ranks highly in my *ahem* book as a study and/or travel aid, and not a replacement for a real book or 100 real books. Give me an old used book store packed floor to ceiling with dusty volumes, and I'm in heaven. Give me a Kindle and I'll save a tree and some typing... and possibly lose a piece of my soul.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

I spent a good part of yesterday unpacking books -- the good old dead tree kind -- that had been packed away for most of two years. There were definitely some old friends I've missed, as well as a few I might have wished to have on Kindle for quick reference. But for now, I have to say, "My name is Maria, and I'm a book addict."

6:32 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... that's pretty cool. I remember hearing that part too. I never understood how my husband could read on his Palm... not my kind of reading, but he has done it over and over again. I think the ease of travel outweighed the sacrifices.

Marcus... I thought that was pretty cool about the Kindle screen not being backlit... makes me want to see how it looks, reads. King of the World. Is that what it takes to get these devices? :)

Erica... yes, I get it. We are primed to turn, not scroll. But I'm guessing the new generation will have no such romance and someday the book may be a thing of the past. Not silly that you feel that way. It's part of the romance of your own history with books.

Nikki... I so loved everything you said. It resonated. I was hoping someone would think through the "layers" issue and you did. So nicely too. I wonder if the younger generation will feel their souls tied to screens the way we feel ours tied to paper?

Maria... you've come to the right place. :)

6:53 PM  
Blogger Lorrie said...

I've always poo poo'd the Kindle because nothing can replace the joy of a good book in hand. Now, after reading this, I want both!! :-D

8:37 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

I just finished my online class (yay!) that incorporated an online textbook. Yuck! The text was good, but I ached for real pages under my fingertips. I'm such a visual person, remembering the thickness of the book where a favorite passage is located, the side of the page it's on. Like Nikki said, I do my own layering, keeping the American Heritage Dictionary handy. Love writing favorite quotes in a journal by hand, sensing the words become a part of my soul as the pen moves--just wouldn't be the same to "highlight" on screen. But, there are certainly advantages; the main one for me would be less bulk. I pack waaaaay too many books wherever I roam. So. Might give in someday, but will never completely replace paper books with the virtual kind.

9:45 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

I have to say, I'm impressed with the Kindle video. And I can't decide if I will ever give in or not. The experience of reading an actual book is an irreplaceable pleasure. (And I know I'm preaching to the choir here.) Sigh. I just really don't know.

PS: You have so many of the same books I have! Sacred Companions . . . Addictions & Grace . . . the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook . . . and on and on and on. :)

11:42 PM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

I've read reviews and watched videos and listened to friends rave about this. It looks fantastic, would save me a lot of space, would simplify my life immensely, but I cannot take this leap.

I need pages to fold and edges rough with Post-It notes. I need covers worn and yellowed. I need rooms with cramped bookshelves.

But my old typewriter is now a computer, and the change in my pocket has turned into a cell phone, so I guess you never know...

9:28 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

i wonder if the next generation of kindle will have the option of releasing the book smell. i love the smell that wafts up when turning the pages of a book, whether new or old. i love how the pages curl or when i open it again, i can remember coffee dripping onto the corner of a page.


(but oh, how i would have loved to have one on the airplane!!)

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Jim Martin said...


I'm not sure I should have read this today. :) I've been thinking about getting a Kindle. Reading this positive post pushes me toward one a little more.

I'm very impressed with what I've seen and heard.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I've avoided Kindle. Have even avoiding reading positive reviews ABOUT Kindle. But now, hmmmm ... I'm intrigued.

I have avoided it for the same reason that I have avoided reading newspapers online. I need to hold the paper in my hands, have the option of cutting out articles and filing them away, reading the Sunday front with my cup of coffee, and then re-reading the pages weeks later when they're protecting my kitchen table from the girls' painting projects.

But this old-fashioned girl may give Kindle a look ... someday.

Thanks for the post, L.L.

9:34 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Lorrie... I think that's where I landed. Kindle would be good for those books I don't have, nor plan to have, a soul connection to. Researching for my own writing would be made far simpler too.

Joelle... I don't prefer reading a screen either, but supposedly Kindle is different. For one thing we hold it more like we hold a book and the screen isn't backlit, so it's apparently easier on the eyes.

Christianne... maybe you'll have to do what Lorrie wants to do.. both! :) As for owning many of the same books, that's sweet.

Billy... maybe they'll come out with the Kinesthetic Kindle someday? :)

Kirsten... I bet you could get fragrance in a custom Kindle cover. :)

Jim... oh, the temptation!

Jennifer... maybe someday a person could print from her Kindle, right onto the scrapbook paper she'd like to hold memories on... :)

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm the blessed girl who will be receiving your book from across the Pacific... Am so looking forward to it! Thank you, very much!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Wow. Really neat all you're in, L.L. I'm still trying to get a project done, actually is a writing project for a small theological publication. But I have to admit, I'm discouraged over life in some ways. I'm thankful for my work, but it takes so much out of me. I don't know whether just to cave in in a cave somewhere, take the opportunities that come my way, or something in between. But I still have to keep my nose low to get this project done.

Happy Kindling! Maybe I'll have to give it a good look later. You know, of course, I still haven't done any poem.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Robin Sloboda said...

I noticed in your pile of books, Scared Companions by David Benner, great teacher and good book on spiritual transformation and direction.

1:42 AM  
Blogger McBetty said...

I downloaded the free kindle app onto my iPhone. The size of the font can be adjusted. Am on my third book now. It is easy reading .... iPhone is always with me, so I read while waiting in line at the grocery. Read while in bed, easy to turn from side to side without losing my place. Love it!

I'm tickled by the person who feared the demise of books (the paper kind) ... Edison said basically the same thing when motion-pictures (movies) were invented.

6:29 AM  

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