Maybe it’s because I was an English major and was fortunate enough to be exposed to many of the great classics found in the shadowy aisles of our ivy-covered university library. Or perhaps it goes back much farther, since growing up in the 60s and 70s we had three TV channels, no Internet, and an absence of video games – curling up with a good book was considered entertainment back then. In fact, my mother the school teacher turned a trip to the library into our Saturday morning tradition. (Preceded each week by a frantic Friday night search for the ever-elusive almost overdue books that needed to be returned – somehow they always seemed to be hiding underneath the bed). There was something so magical about the sense of pride and “grownupness” I felt as I took my stack of three or five books (or whatever the limit was) up to the librarian’s counter, handed her my library card, and then signed my name on the next available line on the book’s checkout card. I remember secretly fantasizing that my prolific reading habits would be discovered many years later when library historians from all over the world would convene to share their wonderment and appreciation about this mysterious “Gwen Berringer” person whose signature was EVERYWHERE. (Aw, come on. I was 10).
I love the way books feel in my hands, the way the pages smell, and if given the chance to spend hours in a fantastic old book store looking for first edition Nancy Drews from the 30s and 40s? Heaven. Suffice it to say, I am a bibliophile. So last year around this time, when the person who knows me best and loves me most asked if I wanted a Kindle for Christmas, I was rather offended, and more than a bit indignant. “Me? Are you kidding me? Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do. Maybe I need to reconsider this whole relationship!” Well, okay, I didn’t go that far, but you get the picture. I just couldn’t fathom using an electronic book reader – it truly went against everything I hold dear when it comes to my love affair with books. But. . . as a lover of technology (as contradictory as that may sound), I was curious enough to investigate what others had to say about the Kindle, so I posted a Tweet along the lines of “Anyone who loves books have a Kindle? Thoughts?” In a matter of moments, I was inundated with positive responses – “LOVE it!” “Best thing ever!” “Highly recommend!” Hmmm. . . and then came the Tweet that put me over the edge from a colleague whose opinion I really trust – Rhonda Morganstern. “It will change your life.”
Wow – change my life? Okay, Rhonda. So I begrudgingly put the Kindle on my Christmas list, and gave it a try. And to be perfectly honest? It has changed my life. Not in dramatic, over-the-top, epiphany ways, but in economical, convenient, and educational ways. For instance, now that airlines are charging a small ransom for checked luggage, I’m trying to get away with cramming my belongings in a carry-on bag, if the trip is short. Now that I’ve got the Kindle, I’ve got room for up to 3500 books in my carry-on! Books (and career blogs like this one) are available for instant download, which is super-convenient, and the built-in dictionary allows you to highlight a word and instantly learn the definition. It’s awesome. The Kindle intuitively knows where you last left off, and you can apparently now read Kindle books on your iPad and iPhone, too (although I’ve not yet tried). Pretty slick.
As the Kindle library offerings continue to expand, the value of this nifty device will increase as well, particularly as a must-have career tool. In talking to several candidates this week who are going through the interview process, I was not surprised to hear that one of the common questions asked was, “What’s the last business book you read?” With the Kindle, thousands of books are at your fingertips, providing a very economical way to broaden your horizons and nail that interview question (and many more)! Does it replace the rush to your senses of the musty smelling, thick papered, dog-eared editions of your favorites lining the bookshelves? No. But as I’ve discovered and accepted, it’s not meant to, so I’m okay with that.