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April 1, 2011

Guest blogger Tori goes over to the dark side and says goodbye to good old fashioned paper…

My husband did a very sweet thing the other day and gave me a gift out of nowhere: a Kindle. I have to admit that while I was grateful and surprised, I was a little skeptical. It was a cool toy, but as a life-long lover of books, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to make the shift. Could I go from happily thumbing through pages, flipping back to check on things I might have forgotten and seeing my progress mount to simply scanning a flat screen and pushing a button to advance?

My initial reaction was that the actual width of the column of onscreen text was too thin – I felt like the line breaks came too frequently, and it was distracting. My husband predicted that it would take about 2 minutes of reading before I acclimated to it…and he was right. Before very long, I hardly noticed the change.

Since then, it’s been fairly smooth sailing. The “ink” is really easy to read in a variety of lights. I love that I can immediately purchase a new book (or magazine, blog subscription, etc.) on a whim. I’ve never read Jane Eyre (best English major ever over here, folks!) and I got it, optimized for Kindle, for $.99. The “popular highlights” feature, which shows you what other readers have marked as interesting and important, is great if you need to quickly get the gist of something – it functions almost as a crowd-sourced digital Cliffs Notes. I can also use it to access the internet and my e-mail (although I probably won’t since the interface isn’t very sophisticated so it’s more trouble than it’s worth). But it’s nice to have the option.

Regrets? I have a few. I do find it difficult to easily jump back to an earlier point to refresh my memory. I found that the way that it handles footnotes is a little clunky. Mostly I miss the feeling of progress. Sure, there’s a little meter at the bottom that tells you how far along you are in terms of percentage read, but it’s just not the same as seeing and feeling a book’s weight shift from the back to the front. I also wonder about the implications of the Kindle in terms of employing workers in paper factories (I come from a town where there are several nearby) and also the long-term effects of the way we process information.

But tra-la-la, look at how light and easy to read it is! And how accessible new books are!

I have to admit, I dig it. A lot. I think that my happiness with the device has been somewhat driven by the fact that I love the first book that I downloaded: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. It’s a novel that reads more like a collection of connected short stories, which look into the lives of various characters who are all linked in some way to an aging music producer/former punk rocker named Bennie Salazar. It’s a really compelling, entertaining and often moving book about music, relationships and the choices people make – I highly recommend it, whether in Kindle or traditional book form.

That's Tori on the left, kickin' it Grand Prospect style.

A Grand Old Time

Speaking of music, shameless self-promotion alert! If you’re a fan of alt-country/ roots rock/folk/ whatever music, please check out my little band, The Grand Prospect, here or here. If you’re in NYC on Friday, April 1, we’re playing at Southpaw in Brooklyn. It’s our biggest show to date, and we’re really excited to play with some amazing bands – Shiv Hurrah, Spirit Kid and Madison Square Gardeners, all of which are worth checking out too. (Perhaps they’re Single of the Week material, Ken?) Enjoy!

Single of the Week

We’ve got even MORE music for you this week! Here’s Ken:

It’s important to help. It’s important to be empathetic and understand that we’re part of an interconnected global community. A small donation or simple act of kindness within your neighborhood is small gesture with potentially larger effects. These are things I constantly think about when downloading free mp3s from file-swapping sites. And I’m not, mind you, downloading just anything. Just cool shit like this:

Etc.

Crazy week, people. But spring is coming, the days are getting longer and there are always fun things to look forward to. Don’t be an April fool — get ready to get out there and enjoy!

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