so. i bought a kindle fire yesterday.
i never thought i would ever buy any kind of ereader or tablet computer! i have a really nice (& expensive) laptop computer that suits all my computing needs. & until ramona was born, i had a pretty good thing going with regular old paper books. i kept a list of all the new books i heard about & wanted to read, & i checked them out of the library. the list was always so long that if i had to wait a few weeks for one popular new title, i had plenty of other books to keep me busy. plus i read a few magazines, including “the new yorker”. reading every issue of “the new yorker” in a year automatically means that i read like ten times more than the average person, even if i didn’t read a single book.
i almost never purchased new books. i read so voraciously, the likelihood of me ever reading a book more than once is pretty slim (though i do reread the harry potter series once or twice a year). a couple of years ago, i culled my book collection & sold a stack of books to the dusty bookshelf, a used bookstore around the corner from our house. they gave me $60 in credit, & i was thinking, you know, awesome, $60 worth of used books! i’ll use this in no time! guess what? i haven’t used it at all. not because the dusty bookshelf doesn’t have any good books. they have lots of good books. but they don’t have much i can’t get from the library for free.
similarly, jared & i always go to the library book sale together when it happens. jared usually walks away with a huge bag full of old books about history or birds or whatever. & i usually walk away empty-handed. even though the books are only a buck or two each (if that), there’s rarely anything that motivates me to lay down cash, since i can just get it for free from the library!
but once we got ramona home, i suddenly had no time for reading anything. if she happens to be sleeping peacefully in her bouncy chair or with jared or something, i am racing around, doing other stuff that i can’t do while i’m holding her (writing in my journal, pumping, washing dishes, showering, hitting the pool). i pretty much need both hands to feed her, which is one downside the bottlefeeding. with breastfeeding, you can pop the baby on the breast & have a hand free for holding a book or magazine. with bottlefeeding, one hand holds the baby & the other holds the bottle. by the time we get to the burping/cuddling stage, i am usually too locked into the baby care mindset to pick up a book.
for a while, i was managing to read a bit while i held her. but then charlotte died & i just couldn’t focus on anything for a few weeks. i started watching episodes of “parks & recreation” while i took care of ramona, because otherwise my mind would wander & i’d start thinking about how sick charlotte got & how awful her last few hours were & how much i miss her & then i’d start crying. “parks & recreation” was a pleasant, amusing distraction, & usually we could get through a whole bottle, get burped, & settled down to sleep in the course of one episode.
anyway, i started thinking the other day about how much easier it would be to read if there was some way i could do it mostly no-handed. i was obsessing over how much i missed reading (which is pretty much my #1 favorite way to spend time) & all the awesome-looking books i wanted to check out & i was feeling really jealous of all the breastfeeding mommies who say they read more when their babies were tiny than they ever did before or after in their lives. i started wondering if an ereader might be the solution to my problem.
so i bought one. i don’t know. i feel weird about it. i got a samsung galaxy at first, because i totally didn’t want to buy some proprietary operating system that would lock me into the whole amazon/barnes & noble/apple universe. but the problem with a galaxy or a nexus or any of those other cool tablets that runs on android is that there’s a steep learning curve for someone like me, who has only even touched an smartphone once in her life, & ultimately, i am not really interested in tricking my tablet out to be all…i don’t know. technological. so i returned it & got a kindle fire instead, which still enables me to go online & use apps (whatever an app is–it’s probably worth figuring it out because i bet ramona will know everything about apps by the time she’s like six), but the interface is a lot more intuitive to me.
& there is an unfortunate reason why people use devices with those proprietary operating systems/built-in bookstores. a lot of media producers have partnered with amazon or barnes & noble or apple to make their content available exclusively through them. i can download the “new yorker” app on to a kindle & read it digitally, but it wouldn’t work on the galaxy. or at least, i couldn’t figure out how to make it work, because it seemed like there were all these extra steps to take to make it work with android. last night while i was caring for ramona, i read like half an issue of “the new yorker” on the kindle, when the paper version had been languishing untouched on the coffee table for two weeks.
but another BIG problem with ereaders is that there is so little free content out there for people to access. kindle has yet to make an arrangement with the ebook cloud service that the lawrence public library uses. & even if it did, the selection is pretty sparse. kindle touts its kindle users library, available exclusively to amazon prime subscribers, but the selection is meager indeed. it sucks you in with a few bestsellers, like the harry potter series, but the rest is crappy genre fiction & self-published nonsense. & at the risk of being all “this restaurant sucks! the food is terrible & the portions are too small!” about it, prime subscribers are only permitted to check out one kindle library book per month. they also offer free streaming video to subscribers, but if you already have memberships with hulu & netflix (which i do), what’s the point?
i guess the point is to have an ereader that will hopefully enable me to read more, & it doubles as an internet-ready device that i can take with me when i’m out & about or traveling so i don’t have to lug along my laptop. which is funny–i remember when i bought my first laptop a few years ago, i was so excited about having a device i could take out to a coffeeshop. it was such a radical change from being stuck at home with a desktop computer. fast forward six years & i feel that my laptop is excessively cumbersome. this is how we all end up on the slippery slope to being cool with having tiny pentel processors implanted into our brains so that we can always be on facebook or whatever.
anyway, the dearth of free ebooks out there–especially free ebooks i’d actually want to read–means that i guess i’m going to be buying more books, right? maybe that’s a good thing? for the authors & the publishers, i mean. & if i make a budget & stick to it, hopefully it won’t decimate my bank account. i bought a few ebooks today, including two written by zine friends. now to find out if this format actually enables me to read them in a timely fashion.
so, ereaders? who has one? who’s whole-heartedly against them? what do you think? how long until it becomes standard for people to release their zines in an ereader format, & for someone to capitalize on that by starting an ezine distro?