Friday, October 21, 2011
What I’d Like For Christmas
I don’t own a Kindle or a Nook or any of the other hand-held reading devices but I’ve lately become aware of one feature of such devices that is very attractive to me. My eyesight is not, to say the least, nearly as good as it once was. Those devices give one the ability to resize the font on the screen obviating the need to hold a magnifying glass over the book one is reading.
Alice asked, today, what I would like for Christmas. (We still buy Christmas presents for each other though, after fifty-four years of marriage neither of us really has any need of anything beyond food and occasional replacement of clothing.) I was tempted to say, “A Kindle.” But I restrained myself. I’m trying out a version of the Kindle that operates on my laptop. If it passes muster, I might heed Alice’s parting admonition that I “give some thought to it.”
Much of the joy of reading a good book is in the sharing of it either by reading it with others who agree to get a copy and progress together through it, or by handing off the book to someone else to read after you are through with it. Kindles (and their kin) do not allow one to “pass on” a good book to a friend. The books you download are not sharable unless you want to pass your Reader around among your friends. A real disappointment. I’ll have to “give some thought to that” before I decide if I want a Kindle for Christmas.
It is possible that the technology of the actual hand-held readers is different (better than) that of the downloaded software version I’m using on my computer. I would hope so. I’m bright enough (some would perhaps dispute that) to work around the anomalies I find as I’m reading along; things like hyphenation appearing in the middle of a line rather than at the end, or a page number displaced, appearing in the middle of the text, or the first letter of a title transplanted to the end of it. But bright as I am I still find those things a bit annoying when I’ve paid out good money for the “book” I’m reading. That is one of the things I’m “giving some thought to” as I think about what I want for Christmas.
I do admit to a number of typos and spelling errors and even some inanities in the poetry books I self-published. Undoubtedly those who read this blog could point to anomalies aplenty in the pieces that appear here. So perhaps a little humble understanding is in order. Still, I’d expect that those who produce books for e-publication would insist that the format displayed on an e-reader be equal to that in a printed version.
In my more magnanimous moments I concede that things have always been thus: reality has fallen short of the promise. We are still waiting, despite the recent claims of Dyson, for the invention of a vacuum cleaner that can disengage and lift a tread from the carpet. And I am old enough to remember that the most important thing one carried in their Model-T Ford was a length of bailing wire.
Most technologies pass from the scene before they have been perfected. It is the way of all human artifacts. And it is the way of all humans too. The reality of our lives always falls short of the promise; we “pass from the scene” still unperfected.
It is all so humbling to consider. And those are some of the things I’m “giving thought to” as I decide what I’d like for Christmas.