Yeah I have a library of books. Old yellowed dog-eared guys who taught me how to read and write when I was hacking it out in Chicago and starving above Thai restaurants in one room hovels that were sprayed by a maniac with a silver can like a gunfighter who shouted EXTERMINATOR and the roaches just laughed man. They just laughed and the exterminator never even saw the guy laying on his yellowed mattress with the book over his face reading Kerouac, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway, Salinger...anybody he could get his hands on, tearing up those books with fingers smudged with coffee cake and staining pages with brown coffee and jelly and then they ended up in my shelf of books that are like touchstones next to my second Editions of Tales of the Jazz Age and Huckleberry Finn. Hard to believe that is all historical now.
But it is. Grabbed up the Kindle and have been reading it for about a week. Strange at first because I didn't have a book to mutilate and mark and scribble on and get eggs and coffee all over and throw in my backpack and then my car and then lose it under my bed or leave outside. Strange not to flip the pages and hear the sound and feel the texture and stare at the physical print. But reading THE HELP at a snails pace which is the way I read anyone I want to really see what they are doing, I started to forget about books. Which is weird because I never thought I would ever forget about my buddies I carried around on CTA buses and trains and plopped down on bakery floors and security desks and shoved inside my leather coat.
But it is happening.
First of all I can always find the Kindle. It just sits on the kitchen counter and I pick it up and read in the morning before I write like I always do. And it just hangs around and I take it with me to the coffee shop and it is small in the backpack. I had been lugging Fitzgerald's uncollected stories around. A brick. I even carried around Twain's Autobiography for a while. A cannon ball. But the Kindle weighs nothing. And the book is there. I even downloaded music into it for when I get bored of reading.
But how is it really reading on this thing? It just is. You read and forget about it. The vehicle is here and the links are in the books and so reading will never be the same. I am a gadget freak and yeah I probably have rushed to judgement, but the brave new world of digitized books is here and aint no turning back. And the thing is you don't want too. It's all about the word right? The word is still there and even looks like the printed word. I just need to get a light which I skimped on so I can read in bed while the world sleeps.
And as for my friends in my library. They are still there and always will be. I will still read books. I might even lose the Kindle in the back of a bus or a taxi or maybe it will get rained on or just die. Who knows. But here is the deal, books are a part of you, be they digital or pulp. It's the story, right?