Monday, December 12, 2011


So we have this thing at work called Bonus Bucks and every time you do something respectable, you get some. Over the course of the year, if you're wise, you can accumulate some serious change. The husband used to tell me any time I got a spiff at work, I had to use it for myself; it could not be 're-gifted," given away, or used for household replacement/repair kinda thing. Nope. It had to be something I wanted for me. And since I totally suck at shopping, (despite 14 years at Dayton's/Marshall Fields) picking something for myself is not easy. In fact, of everyone I ever shop for, I am the most difficult.

Thankfully, one of the places we can use said Bonus Bucks is Amazon. In years past, I've picked up CDs of old muscials long forgotten by everyone but me (ROAR OF THE GREASPAINT, ROBERTA, BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, get the drift) and some pretty obscure books on stuff like midrash and 18th century Brit Lit. Real exciting stuff, y'know. Once, I even ordered a pair of Betula clogs (they're on my feet as I type this) but that was because my old pair was falling apart and I was desperate...and the husband then gave me an argument.

This year, he would not have argued; he would've laughed. I had all manner of books and things ready to go when I saw it. It was just the right price and would leave me enough for all the nifty accessories AND the new Barbra Streisand CD. 

Then again, I wondered if it would be traitorous to buy such a thing, me being a writer and all. But it was oh, so tempting. I could pretend I lived in the 21st century with that thing. And with a red leather case, it would very chic. And it's not like anyone would ever buy one for me, so if I wanted it, I would have to spring for it. And maybe if I had it I would be more inclined to use it for its own special purpose. But there was the Rashi commentary I was ogling. But if I got this, I might be able to also get the Rashi later...electronically........

I shut my eyes and pressed the send button. I ordered a Kindle. Not the cheapo one and not the expensive one, the one in the middle. Of course, there was instant buyer's remorse, but I steeled myself against it. I was going to give myself a Kindle and that was that.

It came. I figured out how it works...pretty much. Got some remedial help from my daughter-in-law who promised me I'm going to love this, especially once I get my library card turn on for ebooks.

So I downloaded a free copy of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I really love that book. I figured if I was going to learn a new way to read stuff, may as well start with something I like and know so that I can pay more attention to how I'm changing my process than than story itself. 

Then I started to wonder if anyone else went through that same examination. I'm not sure. I do know that I am very aware of how we have changed our experiential parameters in the last few years. Earbuds make music private, but then you don't get to hear what kids are listening to these days...or ask questions about it. Does the insular experience of listening to one's own music translate to insulating kids from experiences in the real world?

Trotting along the same line, does the slimness of a Kindle or a Nook change our expectations when it comes to reading a book. Have we now reached a point where size really does not matter? Does reading WAR AND PEACE seem as onerous a task when it's held inside a slender Kindle?  And how can we know what book everyone is reading if we cannot see the book covers? And what about pages? How can one truly dog ear a beloved copy or write notes to oneself in the margins? 

One day, I hope a grandkid will take my Complete Pelican Shakespeare and discover all those notes in peacock blue and jade green fountain pen ink to be useful. And that will be me talking to them from another time. 

These are important questions, society shifting issues yet no one seems to notice it too much. What happens to us as a society when we live inside our heads? Do we lose our ability to interact, communicate, and subsequently compete? Do we stop caring about those outside our immediate circle... and what does that do to the fabric of society?

I have no answers, only more questions. If anyone wants to weigh in on this, please do.

Wifely Person's Tip of the Day
Don't sleep with your mobile device. Ever.


  1. And they said that the fall of civilization was "coffee in a paper cup.". No, It's these damned devices that won't even let you do proper punctuation. ( The period goes inside the quote marks!"). With the popularity off these readers, we won't know what others are reading on the subway, we will no longer "meet cute" in bookstores, our ability to hold meaningful conversations will dissipate,etc. And I'm writing this on an IPad!

  2. Hey, Mr. Darcy is Mr. Darcy whether he is on parchment, rag paper or the glow of a hand held reader! Enjoy! Let go all "pride and prejudice" and move into the future Ms. Elizabeth!

  3. Jim now reads quadruple the books since I gave him a kindle last Christmas. He LOVES it and does the NY library online. he is reading it as I type.

  4. Guess I'm still stuck in the past listening to my old Betula Clogs albums on my RCA turntable... don't you just love the way she belts out "Downtown" and "I Know a Place". (Besides, I always thought a Kindle was Barbie's Jewish boyfriend.)

  5. Though on the sign it is written:
    'don't pluck these blossoms',
    it is useless against the wind,
    which can not read.


  6. Betula Clogs.....OKAY....thanks for the tip. :)

  7. What if the mobile device bought you dinner???

  8. what if the "mobile device" bought you a nice dinner???

  9. If the mobile device brought me a nice dinner? Gee, well, if it came with sparking conversation and a bottle of wine it would definitely be a keeper.

  10. Enjoy your writing very much.

    My husband and I worked in book manufacturing - he 23 years, me 16 years; so the Kindle and other devices don't warm our hearts. I guess we might feel better if they were made in the USA. I would hope that maybe books and the electronic version might exist side by side, but I have my doubts.

    Enjoy your point of view very much, and hope we can all remain sane through the next year's election. Enjoy the holidays and best in 2012.

  11. You are spot on about wishing the Kindle was made in the US, and that speaks to another issue with a need for new manufacturing.

    The environmentalists tell us less paper use is a good thing, but I still think (and hope) that books will always be in vogue. So far, I find you really can't curl up in bed with a Kindle.

  12. Earbuds making music private - I never thought about that one. I remember my dad showing an interest in the music we listened to. And it was always a conversation starter. But now, with my own young boys (who are too young to have an ipod yet) I may not have that opportunity. Thanks to your post, I've decided to make a real effort to offer to play their music "outloud" in the car or wherever.