Monday, 6 August 2012

A new Facebook low: Amazon is compared to Hitler

One of my favorite authors, Jon Katz, released his first e-book last night called The Story of Rose: A Man and his Dog.
I will not be buying this book today, even though I'm always first in line to read everything that Jon writes. His stories of his struggles with depression and self-doubt, his books on dogs and farm life, have resonated with me in many ways. His take on love, grief, spirituality and redemption have uplifted me in very dark times.
So it is with a heavy and impatient heart that I give this book a pass, at least in the short term.
Some idiot must have been watching me in my side garden with my eyes glued to the Kindle this summer; he or she must have noticed that I'd left it on my patio table. It is gone, baby gone, and I am upset.
A Kindle is not an iPad. It has very little monetary value. It's only value is to the person who builds a cherished collection of favorite stories on it.
I'm betting my thief was probably not a reader, and, upon inspection, decided my Kindle was a piece of junk and tossed it somewhere, maybe even in the bushes down the street.
I am lost without my Kindle. I read my newspapers every day on it; I had a library of summer reading waiting for my attention. And now, I have nothing to read. In a few minutes, I will cancel my newspaper subscriptions and that will be that.
I'm not re-upping the paper product. I love my paperless existence, with no overflowing recycle boxes in the back shed. Even though I adore news photography, I don't miss it. I prefer instead to systermatically work my way through words written by dedicated journalists and columnists, and I am grateful for the lack of advertisements.
Just the news, ma'am. That was all I was after.
 It was strange yesterday. I posted on Facebook about the loss of my Kindle and I actually received more than 40 hateful comments about Kindle and how it is somehow cheapening the printed word. I was regarded by some of these people as a turncoat. Worse, somehow, Hitler entered into the debate with one commentator mocking Amazon for calling its digital product "Kindle" when Hitler burned books.
I was really unsettled by these postings on my Facebook by people I've never met, people who don't know me for the reader and writer that I am. I love books.  I always have; I love the feel of a fine onion skin page, I admire a quality act of binding on books that don't crack over long sessions, or don't fall apart if you accidentally leave them in the rain.
Just because I have embraced the potential of technology doesn't mean I will never buy a book again. I am a writer and a reader who was raised on thoughts captured on the pulp of ancient trees.
But Kindles and Kobos are opening up the world of reading, making it more accessible and attractive to young readers raised on the Internet, offering a product that allows people who have difficulty reading the fine print to enjoy the pleasure of the written page once again.
What troubles me about the Facebook comments is that these people seem more concerned with the medium than the message.
Who cares how the message is transmitted -- whether it is on newsprint or on fine paper?
As long as the tales are told and shared. That's all that matters.
Scott has a Kobo, the Canadian equivalent, which offers readers 100 of the world's classic books to read for free. How terrific is that?
Let's face it. The book business is in trouble. The price of a first edition is out of reach for a lot of folks who have to borrow a copy from the library instead.
Now, thanks to e-readers, owning a library of books is once more a possibility for those of us with little disposable income.
I wasn't lording it over the Facebook that I prefer Kindle. I was writing that I was robbed of a medium I cherished, a little piece of hardware that I will now have to scrimp and save to buy again.
The comments on my Facebook made me sad -- especially when Amazon, an innovator, was compared to Hitler.
It's still a free country last time I checked. So I'm free to get my reading material in a manner that makes sense to me, and my pocketbook
Word to the haters -- go stick your nose in a book and keep it out of my business.

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