For all the gizmos and gadgets I have in my possession, there are still a few non-digital things in my life that I consider almost sacred. My books are an example of this.
I have a nice collection of books. Those I have read, books I have saved that I read to my children when they were little tikes, and books that belonged to my Mom and Dad.
There was one period in my life when I was spending my junior year abroad at Antioch College’s London program. I’d go to various book shops and buy special Penguin books to read for school and just to buy because I thought they were important to have. I shipped them all back from London and still have them to this day. My books line a bookshelf upstairs where my 19 year old has her work space. I’ve often thought of moving them elsewhere, but I wanted to keep them there to remind both of my children that books have a history and a soul.
Making the Transition to Reading Digital Content on the iPad
I got the iPad on the first day it was released.
One of my plans in using the iPad was to eliminate my paper subscriptions to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, and The New Yorker. It took a while to do this, especially with The New Yorker. Like my books, I thought of print edition of The New Yorker as holy ground. It belonged on paper. I needed to read not only the great articles, but chuckle at the cartoons and study the small ads that are so much a reflection of what makes The New Yorker, well- The New Yorker.
It took me several months of undoing, and I have finally made the transition, but found myself keeping a few guitar magazines like Vintage Guitar and Guitar Player, although I think I am going to let the later subscription lapse.
But Books Are Different
I still like books. I like to hold and read them, and make notes in time.
But it was time to make a switch. So, I decided that as long as I was going to make the big leap, I might as well join forces with someone I really admire, Keith Richards. I was going to buy his book “Life” and before I was going to order to hardcover version from Amazon, I decided to order the digital version for my iPad. Part of this was symbolic. I’ve always seen Keith as sort rebel rouser and disruptor. I needed someone like Keith to inspire to disrupt an old habit.
Even after I downloaded the book, I wondered to myself if I had done Keith wrong, for after I read the book, it would no longer stand with pride along side the other books I own. But then, I started to think about the transition I made to having a collection of 300 LPs and then then on to 500 CDs. I used to take so much pride in collecting LPs. Half of the LP was about the music, and the other half was about the album artwork. I still own some LPs – specifically ones from the Beatles and one from The Who, “Quadraphenia,” which has a personal letter that Pete Townshend wrote to me when I requested an interview, but turned me down.
When iTunes came out, I undid my CD collection and moved my content there. I sold most of my CDs, but kept about 25 of them which mean a lot to me. Again, bands like The Who, The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinds, Tom Petty and few others.
Last night I was on a plane and started to read the Keith Richards book. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the experience. I loved reading and hearing Keith’s voice in the words describing his early life. I had an imaginary conversation with him, partially asking him for forgiveness for not buying the real book, and partially asking him to show me the way. He assured me, in his rough and scragged voice that it was ok.
The jury is still out on how I like the reading experience. I am sure that like making the transition from albums to CDs to pure digital music on an iPod, I’ll be ok. As it stands today, I have about 13,000 songs in my library. This reflects music that I previously had, music I have bought, music my kids have bought and music friends have shared with me.
What I Would Like to See in Terms of New Features for Reading a Book on an iPad
One of the things that I like to do when I read a book is underline words, phrases or sayings that are important. I will often annotate them with a hand written note to myself in the front of the book, reminding me to go to page X, where there is an important snippet, saying, or lesson I want to revisit. I wish you could do that in an eBook. Why can’t I have a notes section, or have a link from a place that I can underline a special section?
Many years from now, I hope to be able to revisit this post, and think about the transition I made, and more importantly who I made it with. Thank you Keith for helping me along. Like so many of your special guitar riffs, this too shall be memorable.