I realize I’m kind of ridiculous, but I still can’t convince myself to buy a Kindle — January 2, 2014

I realize I’m kind of ridiculous, but I still can’t convince myself to buy a Kindle

Reasons for and against:

For:

1. Everyone seems to love their e-reader. (I would just say “their Kindle” if there weren’t people in my life using Nooks and such.)
2. Everyone I know who has one tells me that it increases the amount they read, if only because the “you have only 30 minutes left” indicator constantly tempts them from the bottom of the page.
3. E-books obviously present lots of possibilities for note-taking and such. And I do a lot of note-taking.
4. Imagine, wild as it may sound, that you’re traveling with your partner and her family to a distant beach. Might it be nice not to burden you and your partner with 11 pounds of books? (Not a remote hypothetical. I just asked Amazon how much [book: The Reactionary Mind] and [book: The Rhetoric of Reaction] in paperback, plus the three volumes of Otto Pflanze’s Bismarck biography in hardcover, plus [book: King Leopold’s Ghost] in hardcover, plus [book: Iron Kingdom] [sensing a theme?] in hardcover, totaled, and the answer is 11.4 pounds.)
5. Variable text size is nice. I can just set the Kindle on the elliptical machine’s handlebars at work, tap the text size up appropriately, and read from a distance.

Against:

1. I am still all about beautiful books. Would the Kindle ever preserve pages this beautiful?
2. Until the Kindle can do hyphenation with justified lines, it is going to make me cringe. I don’t understand why the Kindle doesn’t yet use the Knuth and Plass algorithm, which as far as I understand it is public domain and in use by everyone, up to and including Microsoft Word.
3. I want to actually *own* the books I read, rather than have them constantly subject to Orwellian deletion.
4. Just as my kids will not know what cassette tapes are, or CDs, or DVDs, and will live in an entirely virtual world, they will also likely not know books. They will surely not understand why daddy has a 20-volume dictionary which he is always tempted to supplement, even though he spends all his dictionary time accessing the online OED through the Cambridge Public Library. And they will definitely not have the same experience daddy had, wherein he’d lay on the floor of his parents’ office, flip open to a random page in the World Book Encyclopedia, and go exploring for a little while. If they existed today, they would be using the Wikipedia, which — while it may be more accurate — is obviously no substitute for a real encyclopedia. (I use the Wiki every day, and have donated hundreds of dollars to its upkeep, but this is still obvious to me.)

So my job is to stand athwart history yelling Stop. I realize this is ridiculous. Nonetheless, here we are. I want my kids to be able to amble over to the bookshelves, see something interesting, grab it off the shelf, and give it a read. I’m inclined to buy an [book: Encyclopædia Britannica] off eBay just to have it around, and a [book: Dictionary of American Regional English], and the [book: Historical Statistics of the United States] (even while these perfect mythical children annually burn sacred incense to mourn the passing of the [book: Statistical Abstract of the United States]), and [book: Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations]. Absurd? Absolutely. Going to get progressively more absurd with the passing of time? You bet.
5. I really really *really* hate using a computer when I’m not at work. Reading e-books on my iPad would be so much not my speed that I don’t even want to discuss the prospect. Kindles are just on the boundary: closer to an Etch-a-Sketch than to an iPad, but still too close to a computer for comfort.

Having laid these out, I imagine most people are still on the Pro side. Whereas writing out this list has made me decisively Anti. I can’t be alone on this, can I?