This is my next is a special feature where writers of The Verge sound off on their latest deep, dark desires from the world of technology.
I’m writing this before the product has officially been announced, and in the 8th month of a self-imposed, year-long "I’m not buying any gadgets or electronics" fast, but I’m confident enough to say it right now: the next thing I buy will be a Kindle Paperwhite. I knew it when we first started seeing the leaked photos the other day, when I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at. Is this thing backlit? Oh my god.
Here’s the thing. I’ve never owned a proper e-reader. I’ve reviewed a few, so I’ve spent a lot of time with them, but, when you review something, even if you spend hours a day for a full week or more with a device, it’s not yours — and that distinction matters with reading and books. I also own a second generation iPad which I use almost exclusively for Twitter and playing dumb games while on the couch; the only book I have ever read on it is, fittingly, Steve Jobs: A Biography, because I was reviewing it and could get it on iTunes faster than I could get a physical copy. I found the experience mostly pleasurable but simply not one that I wanted to repeat. I abhor reading on my phone so much so that I almost invariably reach for my laptop to read anything over 100 words, whether it’s an email or a blog.
I am however, an avid reader and book lover / collector. I always have at least one book with me, but, these days, with work (and the new Verge Book Club), one book is actually usually more like three or four or... five. I’m starting to feel like a bag lady, and books are so heavy. For years I’ve argued with myself over whether I should (or could) sacrifice the feel, the smell, the physicality of a real book for the convenience, form factor, and book purchasing ease of a reader. An E Ink reader has always been my theoretically preferred reader, but E Ink refresh rates used to be so slow. It’s been a slow, grinding process of watching readers get better and better, and now, I think, Amazon has done it.
Unlike many (most?) people, I’m not interested in the tablet e-readers; I want a dedicated reading device without the distraction of Twitter or games or email. I want the contrast and readability of e Ink. I want access to the best and most varied content. I want a battery life the length of War and Peace (months). I want a device that is light in the hand and about the size of... the Kindle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost bought one, and each iteration’s improvements have
I want a battery life the length of War and Peace nagged at me on launch. Essentially, I’ve played a waiting game with myself for the past few years at least, holding out for the reader which would finally and definitely pull me away from paper and ink. And the beautiful, affordable Kindle Paperwhite is that reader. The decision is an easy one at this point, mirroring whatever subconscious activity occurred when I finally left behind CDs, records, and FLAC files for 128 kbps* MP3s. Call it evolving toward convenience, in all its lossy, compressed glory. I can’t take notes with a pencil in the margins, but I’ll be able to throw it in my bag without destroying my shoulder or feeling like a bag lady, pulling out random paperbacks and loose leaf in the middle of Union Square, a dinosaur in a sea of e-readered space mutants.
So sure, I said I wouldn’t buy any electronics this year, but I consider this money well spent, and I don’t say that lightly. I have, after all, been using a pair of Virgin Atlantic ear buds for the past month as a replacement for my lost ones, and believe me, they’re the worst. I choose to be excited, not defeated, at my decision to evolve and purchase an e-reader, and like to think I’ll still read the pulp-based stuff at home, but we all know the truth. If I successfully adapt to reading on a Kindle, there will probably be no turning back.
*I actually checked on this, and most of my MP3s are higher than 128, but you get the idea.