Why a Kindle, when I am not a Kindle type? I wasn't an electronic typewriter type, either, yet became addicted and immediately started composing as if it had been plugged directly into my brain. Nor was I a computer type, or a laptop type at first. For all I know, I may be an Ipad, Iphone, and Ibrain type, too. I just don't know it yet.
But there are more substantive reasons than the charms of new technology for my desire to own an e-reader: blizzards and relapses. In my admittedly cosseted existence, I count as a disaster being stuck in a blizzard, or in a CFS relapse, without a stack of books beside me. Unfortunately, in the last seven years in Vermont, I have often been stuck without a book to read.
Each of the villages around here has, along with its adorable white-spired Congregational church, an equally adorable but tiny library on the town green. These are lovely white-painted frame buildings with tall multi-paned windows through which the clear winter sun shines on the wide pine floor boards, the antique card catalogs, and the sparse book collection, in which the works of Danielle Steel are generously represented. Not that I wouldn't, if driven to it by the hazards of weather and CFS, actually read one of Danielle's books--if I could only get to a library when it was open. Like the post offices and town dumps around here, libraries have charmingly erratic schedules, never the same two days in a row, never open when you need them.
The independent bookstore forty-five minutes from my house (practically next door, in Vermont terms), stays open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. It is the cynosure of the region. You can get lost in its narrow hallways and book-lined nooks until the aroma of Green Mountain coffee draws you out of the labyrinth and into the land of panini made with local goat cheese. As well as books, you can buy children's toys here, scrumptious blank diaries and quirky jewelry. And you can listen to speakers about causes dear to a Vermonter's heart.
Alas, much though I love this place, it does not entirely satisfy my book needs. The writers I most like to read--Evelyn Waugh, Iris Murdoch, P.G. Wodehouse, Anthony Trollope--are not in fashion, are represented by a single or at most two volumes that I have unfortunately already read. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that 90% of the books on the shelves were published after 1990. I do not blame the store for this. As we all know, independent booksellers have to bend with the prevailing winds to survive.
Hence my Kindle. It's easy on the eyes and on the hand. The books in e-form are cheaper than their paper counterparts, and available at all hours in case of blizzard or relapse. Many of the books whose copyrights have expired--the Murdochs, Trollopes, et al.--are free. And they don't take up space on my groaning bookshelves.
I hope my owning a Kindle doesn't make me a traitor to good writing and reading. This gizmo gives me access to out-of-print books that I would otherwise not be able to read, just as Gutenberg's invention made it possible for a person to have her very own bible under her own roof, one that she could light a candle and read if the wind woke her up in the middle of the night.
Last night, with the temperature near zero, the coyotes were feeling frisky. Awakened by their unearthly chorus I fired up my Kindle, and read myself back to sleep.