PAPER VS. E-READER

I bought my first Kindle about four months after it came out. $400 seemed like too much to spend on a gadget, but I love reading and I love gadgets. I talked myself into it with Amazon’s promise of no prices more than $9.99 (and many well under that). I was reading five to six books a month at as much as $25 each. “Do the math,” I said to myself. “This is a no-brainer.”

Equally appealing–especially to my spouse who frequently hauled my book-laden luggage from airport gate to another–the idea of an almost weightless Kindle was more than attractive.

So I placed my order. On line. (Big box stores not only didn’t carry Kindles then; stock clerks hadn’t even heard of them.) Then I waited. Back orders were heavy, but a user site let me know where I was in the queue.

My new toy finally arrived, already loaded with books I’d ordered. (I’d yet to discover the great fun of ordering books where ever I was: on a train in Paris, in the loo in London, in the bathtub at home. Instant gratification!)

The only down side was that when I brought it out, it got more attention than a new puppy. Uninterrupted reading was a challenge. “What is that? How does it work? Is it as good as regular books?” I’m still embarrassed to say that I sounded like a pitchman for Kindle. I was ready to let everyone who asked, know how much I loved this amazing gadget.

I’ll bet this is the part where you’re thinking, “Yeah, right; here comes her ‘yeah, but'” statement.

But no, I still love it, but for other reasons. Kindle’s manageable price is not the least of them. (They’re now available at 75% less than I paid for my first reader.)

“First reader?” you ask. “You mean you have more than one?”

Well, yes. My first one died. The screen went black and nothing would bring the text back. I called Amazon to see if there were some little hole into which I could insert a paper clip (i.e., the common non-techy fix of electronic gadgets that don’t work). “No problem,” the courteous customer service rep said. “We’ll send you a new one for $20; just send us the old one when the replacement comes.”

After a couple of years of lugging his own books on trips (and, despite my objections, borrowing mine), my husband acquiesced to getting his own Kindle. A few months later I againI called Amazon’s customer service, told them that he’d dropped his and broke the screen. Same response: $20 and a new K. was his.

I guess I still sound like a pitchman for e-readers. But now, rather than allow myself to be engaged in an argument over whether paper books are better than books on an e-reader, I simply say that it’s my Kindle that allows me to keep reading. Vision problems are easily overcome with the font adjustment and I no longer suffer from eye strain when I read on the patio in the sun.

Isn’t it great that we book-a-holics have choices?

IMG_0048

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY

M&D kiss

It’s been more than a dozen years since I rummaged through the disorganized, unorganized, and just plain jumbled piles of memorabilia that we pulled from my mother’s closets prior to prepping the house for sale. So it wasn’t surprising to me that I’d forgotten about the 8″ square brown envelope my dad had sent to my mother in 1941, courtesy of the PepsiCola Co.  and, I’m guessing, the USO.

For half a cent postage my dad mailed the three-minute recording from Camp Claiborne, LA to Minneapolis. Gritty, noisy, scratched and distorted…the voice is distorted but his northeast Minneapolis accent and the cadence of his speech brings back powerful memories of my childhood.

There is so much I find charming in this little recording. HIs  discomfort in needing to fill his allotted three minutes is palpable but he soldiers on (no pun intended) in his opportunity to let his new fiancee know that her soldier was thinking of her. In fact, so hard-pressed is he to think on his feet (my dad was not much of a speechifier) that he resorts to a brief song: “I’ll be loving you, Helen, with a love that’s true, Helen.”

But the real charm in this is that he had recently given her an engagement ring. “He gave it to me on the anniversary of my mother’s death,” Mom told me one long ago wintry day. “He said he hoped it would help soften the loss.”

I wonder what my folks would have thought of 21st century in-home technology that allows me to play a recording that was made 74 years ago and transfer it to a CD. And how I wish I could have heard from them the stories that little recording would have evoked.

A QUESTION FOR YOU (YES, YOU!)

I have two writing projects underway. The one that’s got me excited starts with these lines:

“Grandma didn’t like me. I knew this well before I was old enough to ask my mom or even my dad about it. But there was no doubt: she didn’t like me. In fact, she didn’t like any of us. Not my mother, not my brother, not even my dad, her son.”

My question: What do you want to know and why? Where does your imagination take you?

GOING ELECTRIC

Got a buck? Get a book(let).

Now available on Kindle via Amazon.com for $0.99 (plus the inevitable sales tax): “My Life As a WWaBT: Woman With a Brain Tumor.” Click here for the link.

According to Karen Kiefer of Kiefer Art, “Judy Westergard delivers the news of the discovery of a brain tumor as if it were happening in the moment.  Her humor… leads us through a web of chilly hospital corridors, test after test, and somehow manages to assure us that moxy alone will save the day. A succinct, powerful account of her… dilemma, Ms. Westergard generously lends us a view into her looking glass. She speaks to us from ground level, using wit and intelligence to make sense of treatment options, shifting relationships and self concept, affording us unique insight as her “slightly altered life as a woman with a brain tumor” unfolds.”

Gosh! I really accomplished all that? Thanks, Ms. Kiefer!