I wasn’t desperate for an ebook reader. I wanted the perfect tablet instead. A tablet featuring E Ink and color, one that was easy to hold and reasonably priced. There’s no such thing. At least not yet. But there are plenty of books coming out in electronic form only, and I couldn’t read them easily. So I bought a Kindle Paperwhite.
It does the job. The lighting is terrific; it’s easy to hold. I never run out of reading material, and I don’t have to remember to take a book when I know I’ll be waiting somewhere. It’ll be great the next time I travel.
Friends said owning an e reader would change my reading habits, that I’d never buy physical books again. I don’t think so. A hardcover sits perfectly on the elliptical at the gym and I prefer a paperback in the tub. Plus, what would a cookbook be without those luscious, glossy pictures?
But the Kindle has done something. It’s brought out my dark side (And I’m not talking about how much I’ve spent in the Amazon store, though that certainly has its dark side). No, the Kindle has made me an impatient, stingy reader.
When it comes to physical books, I’m generous about giving a writer time to draw me in. I’ll read quite a long way before giving up on a story. I figure even a poorly crafted book teaches me something. With rare exceptions – that exception being a book that sucks so totally my eyes cross as I read – I pretty much finish everything I start.
Not on the Kindle. That screen is small. I read fast. If I’m not drawn in with a few swipes of my finger, I get cranky. My mind starts to wander. And if I’m not completely hooked in those first five or six pages (probably the equivalent of one or two pages in a physical book), then I’m hitting delete.
At first I felt guilty. Then I got worried. Maybe I had an arrested case of ADD. Or something worse. Maybe I needed to see my doctor (I don’t; the Kindle Paperwhite lets you google Web MD).
What I have instead is a new relationship. My Kindle and I need to get used to each other. Maybe my dark side will recede. Maybe I’ll become more generous and patient and revert to my old reading patterns. Maybe. Maybe not.
Either way, this dark, guilty business has reminded me of the importance of craft. The critical need for smooth, clear, and irresistible story openings. Openings so compelling the reader can’t stop reading. I’m not the only Kindle user out there. And I may not be the only impatient one.
What I’m reading this month:
On the Kindle – Angelfall by Susan Ee
At the Gym – Stay by Allie Larkin
Beside the Tub – Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott