I’ve been thinking about how I ruin books. Maybe I should go electric, get a Sony E Reader, or an Amazon Kindle 3Dog Fire Starter, or whatever they call electronic book reading devices these days.
My real books are displaying distressing amounts of wear and tear, plus water stains from wet hands.
I have in the past inflicted serious damage upon books, especially novels of great length that take weeks to finish. Take the one before me, for example: “Stone’s Fall” by Iain Pears, 594 pages.
To keep it fresh, I took off the dust jacket and hid it somewhere. When I finish peering at the acknowledgments, outside flyleaf, inside flyleaf, right rear flyleaf, left outside rear flyleaf, typeface explication, table of contents, Also By This Author page, title page, second extra big title page, copyright page, To My Mother page, Part One page, and page one itself... when I finish all those pages and the book itself, I will go hunt for the dust jacket. If I haven’t accidentally torn it, or crushed it under a box, dropped it in the sink, or hit it with a splash of chocolate milk, I will put it back on the book like a clean diaper, protecting the body from dust damage.
These potential disasters would be history if I owned an electronic book reading machine. If you drop Kindle into the bath tub, pull it out immediately. If you do that to your book, well, that’s why they invented the microwave. Tip: Do not microwave your Kindle. It makes sparks and funny noises!
To get my hands on a Kindle, short of stealing it from someone who falls asleep using it in a public place, I would have to buy it for, say, $359 dollars, no sales tax, because this is The Internet.
I’d want that leather book cover, $29.95. After a couple of recharges and some extended excitement downloading things I could have 1500 titles in my hands, some free, others $9.99 each, unless marked otherwise.
Another way I hurt books is I carelessly leave things inside. Last night I dozed off near page 312 and left a bundle of Post-it notes inside the book. This afternoon I realized I had bent the spine by laying other books on top. You can’t do that to a Kindle, unless you rest a chair leg on the screen and then sit down by accident.
I have a lot of books due to lack of electronic book reading machines. Few of my books are well cared for, though most are loved. Some are stacked the way they should be stacked, in tight, neat rows on bookshelves. Others recline sideways and upside down, in piles on the floor, on tables, at my elbow, behind my back, on footstools and on benches in the garden. Some of these books will eventually fall to the ground, get eaten by snails, or stepped on by me, the wife, the cat, or all three of us and this would likely be less of a problem with a Kindle.
This morning in my local independent wood-and-nails bookstore I saw Michael Chabon’s collection of literary essays, “Maps & Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands” and it jumped into my hand. Then I picked up Charles Bukowski’s early poetry collection, “The Roominghouse Madrigals,” to check on a particular poem. Somehow those books followed me to the cash register, two irresistible puppies.
The Kindle experience could be something like that. There are many intriguing titles (online you can: Look Inside the Book!) and it’s easy to buy them. After you have a couple hundred in your Kindle, there’s the question of finding time to read one all the way through.
The Kindle is neat and efficient, and its editorial contents are not likely to rot, mold, bend or get eaten by puppies.
Look at that new Kindle, resting on the empty bookshelf. Kind of makes you want to sit down with a good book, doesn’t it?