Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kindle Surprise

I love books. I love new books with their glossy covers and still perfect pages. I love old books with their dog-eared pages and slightly musty smell. I love everything from classics to a good whodunit. I love the rows of books that line my shelves, and the stacks on my bedside table.

In spite of my love for books I have noticed a disturbing trend over the past couple of years. While my love of reading remains strong, the amount of time I actually spend reading has decreased considerably. The result is stacks of books waiting in my "to read" queue piled on the floor next to my bed.

And then there is the library basket, filled to overflowing. Some of these are books that took months of waiting in the library hold line, and now that it is my turn there is no hope I can finish them before their due date.

There is no mystery as to why the books are piling up faster than I can ever hope to consume them. Problem #1 is the Internet. It has delivered a double blow to my reading time. First of all there is the actual time I spend on the net. I am fairly efficient at multi-tasking, but have yet to figure out a way to read two things at once. So a minute spent on my computer is a minute not spent immersed in a book.

The second way the Internet has contributed to the piles of books you see in these pictures is more subtle, but way more dangerous in that it accelerates the rate of book pile growth. There are so many interesting books out there that get discussed on various blogs and websites, and I find it almost impossible to pass up what promises to be a good read. So every time I see a good book I either put it in my library queue, or place it in my Amazon Wish List. Given how crowded my bookshelves, night stand, floor and library basket are you can probably get a good idea of how long that Amazon Wish List is.

If you look closely at the top picture of my bookshelves you will notice some random skeins of yarn sitting amongst the books. This would be Problem #2. I spend time each evening knitting. While I knit I usually watch a DVD or stream a movie on my computer, which, of course, is time not spent with a book. But here's the thing - I can read and knit if it is a fairly simple project. The problem is it is a royal pain to turn the pages when using a book stand.

This is why I finally decided to join the growing number of people who have made the switch to an e-reader. I am now the happy owner of a Kindle.

As a book lover I admit it felt like an act of betrayal to buy the thing, but I am way past that now. Turning pages while I read and knit is a breeze. I just reach out and touch a button. I am also looking forward to traveling with my Kindle. No more agonizing over which books to pack. I am sure I will still buy the occasional "real" book, especially books that are photo heavy such as cookbooks or knitting books. But I have a feeling that most of my new book purchases from now on are going to be electronic. Which makes the reader in me very happy, but the book lover a little sad.


  1. Wow. You are me, but with a blog. And now a Kindle. :)

  2. It really wasn't that long ago when I read about this newfangled 'kindle' that was coming out. And now they are just part of the technological landscape and you have one!!

    My first reaction was one of envy. ;)

    You and me both on the number of unread books strewn around my house. It's ridiculous! It's actually quite frustrating, because I REALLY DO want to read them all. I find I really have to determine which are must reads and which are want-to-reads. And which aren't worth reading at all.


  3. I'm not an experienced enough of a knitter to knit while reading. So, I have an iPod loaded with audio books. I had a kindle but when I got my iPad I gave my kindle to my daughter. I have the Kindle, Nook and ibooks applications on my iPad. That means I can download e-books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple. But, having said all of that, I still would rather read a real book. There's just something about it, you know?

  4. @Joan - I think you should start a blog! Except blogging takes away more reading time. :-)

    @Aneta - When I first read about Kindles I was sure I would not like reading on them. And that is the trick - figuring out the "must reads" from the "want-to-reads."

    @lyndagrace - iPods are another great knitting tool. The apps for Kindle and Nook are pretty great on the iPad. I like how you just swipe to turn the pages! Have you ever wished you didn't give your Kindle away?

  5. Does this get you off the hook regarding the "2-for-1 (or was it 4-for-1) new book" rule? If so, then try to sheer up the book lover. She'll still get the occassional new hard copy while having the flexibility to add many electronic books. It's win-win. =)

  6. For me there is a sort of security in always having a couple of books to read when I get a minute. With the Kindle, they just take up a lot less room!
    Beverly near Yosemite, CA

  7. I too am a book lover, but my OH doesn't like the look of overflowing bookshelves. So my fiction is in boxes and my shelves by my pc are overlowing with craft books. I get masses of books from the library which helps my book spend significantly. The rest of my books are read via my kindle app
    on my iPod Touch. I also love listening to audio books while I knit. That is more expensive than Kindle copies of books, but it is the perfect way to get the story into your brain while knitting.

  8. @Anon (Beverly) - This is just how I am. I need the security of being surrounded by my books. Now when I go visit my parents in the US and when I travel I won't feel insecure. I can take multiple books with me. It sounds like you like your Kindle.

    @CraftyCripple- The Kindle app on a Touch is a great feature! Audio books are great, but yes, they can be expensive. Are you able to get audio books for download through your library? We are able to do that here now, although the selection is still pretty limited.

  9. I made the same book-lover-to-Kindle-lover switch about a year and a half ago. I still love my "real" books but the Kindle lets me stay a "real" reader instead of someone who talks about reading all the time but doesn't get many chances to sit down with a book. Keeping a few dozen books in my purse at all times is very convenient and I've even loaded in all my PDF knitting patterns so I don't need to have printer ink anymore most of the time. I also love being able to knit and read at the same time; those book weights are nice but as much of a pain to move around as you progress through a page as it is to turn the page and not drop your knitting. Plus, it just feels like the future in a sci-fi movie sort of way.

  10. I am thinking of getting a Kindle for my daughter to take on holiday,as she is a bookworm and can read 7 books in one weekend! However, on saying that there's nothing like watching a child engrossed in a good book.

  11. I'm still a Luddite on this one and am resisting the trend. It's the juggling of the book on my knees while I try to read and knit simultaneously that might tip the balance. Of course that would be the case with the Kindle or Nook but at least the pages wouldn't keep slipping out of the book stand.

  12. @bigmonkeypie - You sound just like me! I need to figure out how to get my knitting patterns onto my Kindle. That is going to be the "icing on the cake!"

    @Anon - I agree about the joy of seeing your child engrossed in a good book. Still, I think when my kids were younger it would have been great for them to have had Kindles. It would have meant they could have taken as many books as they wanted on road and camping trips.

    @Janet - I was a Luddite until I actually met a Kindle "in person." It certainly makes reading and knitting at the same time easier!

  13. I've done a couple of major book purges in the last 5 years. I've held on to very few contemporary fiction books--mostly just classics. But knitting books and writing books and reference books, I just can't seem to part with.

    I've been considering a kindle. My mother asked for one for Mother's Day (for the 3 of us to chip in on). There's still that sensory thing about real books, though.

    And, like you, the time to actually read is so reduced--because I'm on the internet, right now in fact. :)

  14. @Tana - I agree about the sensory part, although I have to say that it hasn't been as tough a transition as I thought it would be. Did you get the Kindle for your mom? That would be a great opportunity to try it out and see if you like it.

  15. Okay, this post has me inching ever so close to embracing the idea that it's okay for a book lover to buy a Kindle. I love to knit while I read and am tripping over books, too. Hmmmn.