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Column: Trying to figure out the Kindle vs. book debate

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opinion Perham,Minnesota 56573
Perham Focus
Column: Trying to figure out the Kindle vs. book debate
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

I have a frustrating habit that I'm trying to get rid of.

It's a really simple habit, and shouldn't take much work on my part to get over it. Or so it seems, anyway. The more I try to show restraint, the more opportunity I find for giving in.


The habit I'm referring to is buying a book at any used bookstore or book sale I go to.

It's really bad, I swear. I can't go into a used bookstore these days without walking out with some sort of book I had never before heard of, eager to dive in.

Though I feel guilty every time I buy one of these books, I still do it. I just can't seem to help myself.

Why is this so bad, you ask? Well, it's because I also have an Amazon Kindle, which has been feeling awfully neglected this summer.

It's not that I don't use the Kindle at all. That's not the issue. Rather, it's that I've been buying - and then reading soon thereafter - these books I find at these sales or stores.

Because once you buy a book, you can't not read it, can you? Because what's the point, otherwise?

I do use the Kindle, though. Honestly, I do. I have a subscription to the New York Times that I read as often as I can. And then there are some games I have on there too that I play once in a while.

Oh, who am I kidding. No matter what I tell myself, I don't use my Kindle as much as I should. The misuse stems, I think, from my love of books. And bookstores. Especially used books, and used bookstores. There's just something about finding a rare or unique book in a used bookstore that's akin to finding treasure in a trash heap.

Often, when I tell people that I have a Kindle, the reaction I get is suspicion. Purists, let's call them, haven't quite latched on to the idea of an e-reader like a Kindle. They feel like a device like that takes away from the pleasure of reading a book, of turning the pages and of smearing ink on your hands.

I'm certainly not one to disagree there. Obviously, as I've already admitted, I am a book purist at heart.

When you think about it, though, there's a lot to like about a Kindle. It's so small, and so easy to move around.

When I was packing to go spend nine months in Macedonia in 2009, I debated which of my books I wanted to bring overseas with me. I ultimately settled on a handful of my favorites to remind me of home, but even that extra weight probably cost me an arm and a leg in flying.

If I had owned a Kindle at the time, I could easily have had all those books, plus hundreds more, at a fraction of the weight. Not to mention Kindle's long-lasting battery life (try to get that much out of your laptop or iPad) Convenience, with a capitol C.

Moreover, the Kindle is easy to read. It's not backlit, like a computer, so it's not hard on your eyes. Like a book, if it gets dark, turn on a light. So there's that similarity.

And then, of course, by owning a Kindle and not buying books, you're helping to save the environment. These days, I say 'you're welcome' every time I walk by a tree (although, yes, you are likely reading these words in a newspaper).

Yet, as I said, despite all this, I still can't say no to a good used bookstore, and a good rare used book. It seems to be an addiction I'll never be able to break.

This, then, brings me to my rationale for being such a flip-flopper, and a solution to the book vs. Kindle debate: If you're flying in an airplane, you can't use your Kindle right away. It's electronic, so until the flight attendant tells you that you can use approved electronic devices, that Kindle has to stay stowed.

Until then, why not pull out that cheap used book you recently purchased? You know, that book by your favorite author that you hadn't heard of before, that you recently found, that doesn't seem to be available on your Kindle yet? You can get a couple chapters through that story until the Kindle becomes 'approved.'

Then you can dive back into the hundreds of books, newspapers, magazines, PDF documents and games you've downloaded.

Can't get that in a used book.