Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Judge a Kindle by its cover?

I've come to accept that no one writes letters anymore. Instead, we send email. There are advantages: it's faster, we are more likely to communicate more often. But there are disadvantages, too. I doubt you'll show your grandchildren love letters that you exchanged via email. Then there's the whole physical experience of getting a letter: seeing your name hand-written on the envelope; looking at the stamp; opening and holding the letter in your hands; reading it, imagining the sender's hand putting those thoughts down, maybe even smelling a scent. All of this evokes thoughts of the writer, something that I don't think an email can replicate.

It doesn't matter: letter-writing is, as they say, so over. Now they're coming after our books.

I've not been impressed with this Kindle gizmo. Ironically, the online bookseller, Amazon, is trying to get us to stop reading books - the physical, tactile, "IRL" kind - and start reading them on Kindle instead. How can staring at this little screen compare to the experience of reading a book? It can't, of course. And there would be no such thing as first editions, or autographed copies. I just didn't see myself ever using one...until I read that it has a "read to me" feature:

Now Kindle can read to you. With the new Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud to you. You can switch back and forth between reading and listening, and your spot is automatically saved. Pages automatically turn while the content is being read, so you can listen hands-free. You can choose from both male and female voices which can be sped up or slowed down to suit your preference. Anything you can read on Kindle, Kindle can read to you, including books, newspapers, magazines, blogs and even personal documents. In the middle of a great book or article but have to jump in the car? Simply turn on Text-to-Speech and listen on the go.
I love having books read to me... but my library still offers books on tape & CD for free, I don't see myself ever buying a $360 Kindle. Still, reading to me is at least one reason I can understand, especially since the book I want to hear might not be available at the library. Maybe I'm just being a Luddite, and Kindles will someday become as ubiquitous as cell phones.
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I was at my favorite thrift shop today, my first trip in months. (Scored a pair of Clark shoes for $5!) And I swear, 4 out of 5 customers at the thrift shop were yakking on cell phones! They were the typical brilliant, insightful, charming conversations I'm always so delighted to overhear: "Not much. Whuchoo doin?" Why on earth are people calling each other practically every waking moment, when they seem to have absolutely nothing to say? This whole cell phone culture has gotten so idiotic, I have to do a lot of deep breathing to avoid setting off the crank-o-meter.

6 comments:

Kathy from NJ said...

I think I'm the only person in the world without a cell phone. I had one, maybe back in 1999 - my plan was $19.99/mo and included 15 free minutes. Then they raised the price to $24.99, when they wanted $29.99 I told them to stuff it.

tim's wife said...

My father-in-law proudly boasts that he doesn't have a cell phone and never will. What he doesn't realize is nobody wants to talk to him anyway!!! :o) Hee Hee

La Cootina said...

TW - Funny!!!

Kathy - I finally got a cell phone just a couple years ago. It's a pay-as-you-go phone, and since I rarely use it, and pretty much just for outgoing calls, it costs me about $8/month.

Lynn said...

I am one of few left on the earth that still handwrite letters I guess. There's a select few that I do this for, but I do it. I actually like to sit down with a pen and paper. I can understand why those with bad handwriting wouldn't want to. I probably had enough practice with my upteen dozen pen pals in junior high (from Illinois to India) that it may have even improved my hand writing.

Kathy from NJ said...

I confess that I too bought a pay as you go (T-Mobile) - I started looking at the directions and put it aside for later. Occasionally I would pick up the directions again but never could figure out what they were talking about so after a year it went in the trash.

La Cootina said...

Kathy, try what I did: find a teenager to explain it to you ;D

Lynn, you are an anachronism, but you are providing your correspondents with a rare pleasure.