Monday, January 3, 2011

I like my Kindle - What's up with that?

My husband dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the eReader era and bought me a Kindle for Christmas. When he told me about two weeks before Christmas that he'd bought me a gift I wasn't going to like when I opened it but that I would come to love it, I knew what he'd done. And, a week after opening the gift, I can tell you he was pretty much right.

If you've read my profile, or you know anything about me at all, you know that I aspire to publish a book some day. I've written two (that are now collecting dust in a box somewhere in my house), and I'm about a third of the way through my third. This newest one has a lot of promise – I have an agent that wants to read it when it's done – so believe me, I want people to continue to buy traditionally-bound books. I want to walk into a bookstore and see my book on a shelf for sale.

But it's more than this narcissistic side of me that was reticent to try an eReader. I'm a book lover. I like to have them around. I like to see them on my shelves – old friends that I loved spending time with and may visit again and new ones that I can't wait to get to know. I like their weight in my hands, turning pages in anticipation of what will happen next. That part of me won't go away and won't stop buying books. (In fact, I bought two over Christmas break – Joe's Hill's 20th CENTURY GHOSTS, and Christopher Moore's FOOL: A NOVEL.)

In addition to those two trade paperbacks, though, I also bought three eBooks: MOONLIGHT MILE by Dennis Lehane, AWOL ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL by David Miller, and OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout. MOONLIGHT MILE was the first one I tried on my Kindle, and I read it in a few days over break (review forthcoming). At first, the device felt like an alien in my hands. My memories, however, locked on quickly to the continuation of the Amanda McCready story – I had missed Patrick and Angie tremendously – so that part of the experience felt familiar and good. But what was this piece of hardware in my hands? What was up with turning pages by clicking a button? It was truly a strange experience, reading with my Kindle. And then, without even my own realization, it wasn't anymore.

Somewhere between learning that Patrick and Angie now have a daughter and that Amanda McCready went missing again, (remember – review forthcoming) I forgot that I was reading with a Kindle and simply READ. The device became insignificant in terms of enjoying the book. I was reading a good book, and, as usual with a good book, I got lost in the story, the characters came alive, and I sighed when it was over, just as I would have if I had been holding a book in my hands. I wanted more, but even the Kindle couldn't do that kind of magic for me.

When it's all said and done, really, isn't that what we as authors and readers hope for – a story that leaves the audience wanting just a little bit more? So, I'm going to keep writing and just count myself blessed if I ever have to wonder which format of my book will sell best - the electronic one, or the hardback. I doubt that I'll care.

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