To Kindle or not to Kindle? That is the (Christmas) question

I haven’t forgotten about blogging. I’ve been moving house, you see, and also trying to finish a college assignment, for which the deadline is fast approaching.

But I just have to post briefly on the question of the Kindle. Arguments for and against have been circling inside my head all year. It’s beginning to drive me crazy. I spent a whole hour of my precious assignment-time last week surfing the net trying to decide which Kindle I should get, if I asked for one for Christmas (the Kindle Wi-Fi with keyboard seemed to suit me best), only to come right back to the conclusion that I don’t need one at all.

And yet whenever I see that smooth, sleek, grey rectangle pop up on Amazon (which I do about twice a day at the moment, as I try to weave Christmas shopping in with my writing), I feel an inexplicable, implacable longing for one again. On Thursday I almost bumped into a massive pile of pristine Kindles, stacked up in their boxes in the supermarket (yes, they do sell them there now), and there it was again, that nagging, guilty craving inside me as I ran my hand over them, before moving on to put toilet rolls, eggs and milk in my basket (things I really NEED, I told myself).

I think the problem is that I used crisp, cool logic, you see, when I ruled it out. That was my mistake. I made a reasonable, sane decision, based on the fact that I don’t travel much, and when I do, I only take one or two books with me. Even for work purposes, I prefer to make my notes long-hand if I’m away from my laptop, with an actual pen, on bits of paper or notebooks; I hate using teeny-weeny keyboards like the one on my phone. On top of all that, I don’t like the way the Kindle flashes when you turn a page. For anyone who has ever had migraines, it’s a disconcerting feature. It re-kindles (ahem!) the feeling of the visual disturbances that accompany a migraine. Which all sounds very plausible, so why does this attraction to the Kindle still grip me?

At the SfEP conference this year, I nabbed a techno-orientated guy to counsel me, at the end of a session he was running on new technology and its relevance to editing. He was empathic and patient as I spilled out my dilemma to him. And he agreed with me that my lifestyle doesn’t demand a Kindle at the moment. He also advised me to wait a few years or so, if I did change my mind, until they have found a solution to the flashing business. Good, I thought as I left the conference room. Dilemma sorted. And yet the words ‘a few years or so’ rang in my ears as I walked down the stairs; did I have to live with this yearning for A FEW YEARS? And what does ‘or so’ mean? Three months? Eleven months? I cannot believe it will take that long; if they can (almost) find the Higgs boson in the Large Hadron Collider, surely page-flashing on a Kindle must be easy to fix.

It’s too late now, anyway. I didn’t put it on my Christmas list, so no-one will have bought me one. But it’s my birthday in April, and I’m already wondering, (against reason), if they just might have sorted out the flashing business by then. And if I decide to ask for a Kindle for my birthday, it won’t be based on reason at all, but purely on the ever-present craving I feel. That’s probably the only way to make my beating, technologically confused heart be still. Just do it. Get one and be damned. Shall I? Or will it be a waste of money?

So, all of you out there in the digital ether, that’s my personal dilemma of the day. Why are my responses to the Kindle so contradictory? Answers on a postcard, please.

Or should that be answers on a tweet? Aha, now I like that analogy; a tweet as a digital postcard. I’ll tell you more about my first foray into Twitter in my next post …



2 thoughts on “To Kindle or not to Kindle? That is the (Christmas) question

  1. Hello Helen! Yes, I agree – and it’s great to be able to highlight the passages in a novel that I like and want to go back to later. I recently bought a diet book on Kindle, and like you found it limiting not to be able to flick back and forth. (And the charts in it were PDFs, and very hard to read!) Thanks for your comment – and it was great to meet you this morning at Business over Breakfast – hope to see you there again.

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