Monday, May 17, 2010

A library in my shoulder bag

Whenever I go to China, I miss my personal library. I can find English books in China, but they aren't always my favorites. In the evenings, I like reading novels from Oprah's book club, or browsing the dictionary, or reading Bertrand Russell, or the English romantic poets. I stuff my suitcase with as many books as I can, and I always get inspected by Homeland Security because books, like bombs, are heavy. When I come home, I leave dictionaries and other books behind as gifts for my Chinese friends.

Usually, I take no more than ten books overseas, and even that often renders my suitcase overweight. But this time, I'm taking forty-five. I now have a Kindle, a lightweight electronic reader that holds up to three thousand books. There are several competing devices of this type on the market. The IPad is probably the glitziest, but at the moment anyway, the Kindle has the clearest print. In fact, the print is generally clearer than hard copy, and it can be enlarged to a comfortable size.

Do I miss the feel of the pages? Not really. This is much more convenient. I imagine that when humans invented scrolls, some people thought of rocks with nostalgia. But scrolls were easier to carry around, and so they won out. This innovation may be similar.
Above: The Kindle

Below: Modes of writing the paper book has replaced

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