Checkmate, Kindle!

Posted on May 9, 2011


My wife and I read a lot.  She’s a librarian (of the hot librarian variety).  I collect books like an addict, although no books about addiction, and we’re proud of our personal library.  We belong to book clubs, attend literary festivals, and can think of no better household decoration than giant stacks of books on every shelf and table.  (My second favorite decoration is stacks of cash.  Try it–your guests will be fascinated.)

As a book lover, I was absolutely horrified when I first learned about the Kindle, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realized the Kindle can never hope to overtake the traditional book for the following reasons:

1. A Kindle cannot be hollowed out to hide valuable items like jewelery, cash, or a Kindle.  If Amazon had its way, Andy in Shawshank Redemption would have never been able to hide his miniature pick-axe in his hollowed out Bible, and would still be in jail today.  How could Amazon be so obtuse?

2. When guests visit I like to leave lots of large impressive books lying around.  A Kindle does not allow your guest the opportunity to spot a worn copy of War and Peace on the coffee table and ask, “Who’s reading War and Peace?” and the opportunity for me to answer, “You mean, who’s re-reading War and Peace?”

3. The Kindle, unlike a book, cannot be used to swat a mosquito.  To be perfectly honest, a Kindle can be used to swat a mosquito, but only once.

4. The middle school boy will never get anywhere by asking his crush, “Can I carry your Kindle home from school?”  Not only doesn’t she require his strength to carry the 8.5 ounce reader, but she also doesn’t trust him not to drop her $180 Kindle after watching him during baseball tryouts.  This will be the beginning of multiple trust issues over the course of the epic three week relationship.

5. A Kindle can no longer be used properly if you cover it with a brown grocery bag, write History at the top, and doodle hearts all over it.  I have tried, and the Kindle becomes useless, although it looks great.

6. The Kindle will end the age of the guy picking up women in the coffee shop by pretending to be reading poetry or Jane Austen in the hopes a woman will see the title of the book and start a conversation:

He sees her reading a book of poetry by Pablo Neruda.  He pulls out a book by his favorite poet, her eyes dart to the cover, and she smiles.  He rises, crosses the room, offers a winning smile and says, “I couldn’t help noticing you reading Pablo Neruda.  I love poetry.  Poets feel things differently than we do.”  He points to his book.  “Perhaps you’re familiar with the poet, Shel Silverstein, writer of The Homework Machine?”

She can’t tell he’s reading Where the Sidewalk Ends from across the room if he’s reading Backward Bill on a Kindle.

7. The Kindle will break if placed under the leg of a table to stop it from wobbling.  Dear Amazon, how are you going to capture the “wobbly leg” demographic?  Checkmate, Kindle!

8. If you stack ten Kindles on a chair so your kid can reach the table, the Kindles will break.  Thanks for ruining Thanksgiving, Amazon!

9. I like to build tiny forts out of books, and building a tiny fort with two hundred Kindles is cost prohibitive.  How does Amazon plan to capture the “tiny fort” demographic?  Building a tiny fort is a two hour diversion once a year, not a hobby for which I’m willing to spend $36,000.

10. Bookworms are a cute mascot for reading.  E-books can’t have bookworms, they can only have viruses, which are much scarier and can result in the theft of your identity.  Books have been around for hundreds of years, and I’ve never heard an instance of identity theft by a bookworm.

Although I must admit, the paper book will never match Kindle’s ability to cost $180 to replace if accidentally dropped in the toilet.

Posted in: Columns