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My Kindle vs. My Conscience Pt. 1: Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered [BOOK WEEK]

I never wanted a Kindle.

Now, three Kindles and an iPad later, let me explain why.

The novelist in me was intrinsically against the very idea of an eReader like the Kindle– even before I knew that writers make less per book if purchased through Amazon.

No. Others may shell out their hard-earned dollars for techno gadgets like this…this “passing phase” I spat, with all the ferocity of Samuel Goldwyn, who famously said the same thing of “talkies” versus silent movies. Stupid Kindle, I thought. Pshaw! Nobody wants to read a good book on a glorified Etch-a-Sketch. And even if some do, what’s next – no books? No libraries?!  It’ll be anarchy! Do we, as a people, really want to go down this slippery slope

Like a newly converted vegetarian, I  passionately reviled the Kindle; refused to participate in the denigration of traditional literature, the fleecing of long-suffering authors, the breakdown of civilized society itself!

So, when I unwrapped a birthday present from my husband, I found in my hands not only a brand new-in-the-box Kindle, but also a moral dilemma. Do I thank him for the thought, but explain why I couldn’t keep it? Or do I smile, break the seal, and take the thing out of the box?

I mean, he’d gone to the trouble and everything.

“No way!” came the answer from a quiet but persistent voice near my right shoulder. “Keeping the Kindle is akin to accepting blood money for the death of physical books! Step away from the Kindle!”

Still, I sat there, looking down at the white cardboard box, artfully designed with individual vowels and consonants moving as though through a sieve into a photograph of this strange apparatus.

On my left shoulder, another voice. “He really put a lot of thought into this. What a grand gesture of support for your newly defined literary goals and path. Think about what you’d be doing! Rejecting the Kindle is rejecting his love and support!”

Yes. Yes, I agreed hypnotically. I grew curiouser and curiouser now that the thing was right there, in front of  me. What would it be like to have a whole roomful of books at my disposal at any given moment?  And – what exactly was this e-ink technology Amazon was heralding? How was it different than an Etch-a-Sketch, anyway?  Would the words disappear if I shook it hard enough?

I opened the outer box, which was embossed with a recycle logo. Recycling. A ha!  There was something I’d never considered – think of all the trees I would be saving by buying virtual books on this little electronic device. With every turn of the page  (well, with every press of the button to go to tell the thing to go to the next page) -  I’d be promoting a Greener Tomorrow. Down with deforestation, up with Kindle!

No more paper books? This would mean I would have less stuff! I’d finally “simplify” my life, just like that “Clutterbusters” book I just tripped over in the living room said I could. I’d even go a step further and get rid of all the physical books in my house. Think of the space that would open up!I No more piles of books and magazines jumbling up my space, just like they said in my Feng Shui book that’s around here somewhere. Clear space, clear mind. I’d work better, write better, sleep better! Heck, I might even lose weight! But, what to do with all those physical books? Why, I’d give them to charity, of course!  I’d offset my e-lit footprint with a good give-away to the South Pasadena Senior Center.

I had convinced myself, dropping the box and ribbons and bows to the floor, along with the gift receipt. But, had I accepted the infinite possibilities of the future, or made a deal with the devil?