If there’s one device that’s changed my life, it’s the Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation). And where was I when I came to this conclusion?
In a book shop.
I met up with my college friend N at Church Street Social over the weekend. She got to Church Street before I did, so she made a trip to Blossom Book House (affectionately known as ‘Blossoms’) as I hurriedly made my way through Bangalore traffic. Naturally, I spied the mountain of books she had bought the moment she walked into the restaurant and so I decided to break my “no paper books unless I’m in an airport” (weird, I know) rule so that we could once again browse through one of our old haunts together. And so, after cocktails and a plateful of deliciously greasy ham and cheese bread pakoras, we walked over to Blossoms.
As a college student on a budget, I loved this place. It had history, and there was always this thrill of discovering a gem of a book after hours of silently scouring through the musty rows. New, shiny book stores were nice, but intimidating. Here, my wildly beating heart would beat faster at the anticipation of picking up not just one book, but many, because of the affordability factor. In the past, I’ve picked up at least two copies of Pride and Prejudice (on separate visits, of course), and books by unknown authors simply because I had the luxury of experimenting and not regretting the indulgence later. There was also the kick of buying a book that you knew was previously owned by someone before, and finding a tiny bit of their lives tucked into the pages – like a name in front, or a cryptic message written in perfect cursive handwriting.
So I stepped back into this magical world, hoping to be swept away by the aha! moment of finding my next pile of books to acquire.
But that moment never came.
I’m not for one moment saying that this was because of the place itself. In fact, there seemed to be more floors of books than I remember being there on my last visit. The staff was quiet and non-intrusive as usual, and were quite helpful when N needed some assistance while looking for a specific title.
Blossoms, it isn’t you — it’s me.
After much deliberation, I bought the 2nd Generation Paperwhite in April last year. I fell in love with almost everything about it – the size (easy enough to hold in one hand), the weight and the backlit screen (which means I can turn off the bedroom light and just read, uninterrupted, until sleep takes over). Most of all I loved (and continue to love) the amazing way in which this device lets me discover and buy books that interest me in a flash.
What happened at Blossoms was this: about ten minutes after I walked in, I realized I was getting impatient. After I pulled out what seemed like the tenth book from a shelf to read the summary on the back, the irritation began to set in. I was literally judging books by their covers, and my “miss” rate was climbing. N and I were there for a specific reason – to help her buy fun, contemporary chick-lit books that dealt with stories in the city, featured a single heroine etc. You know the kind, right? But, as we stood in the ‘Romance’ section, what we had in front of us was looming shelves, crammed with books, and we had no option but to start picking at random (and avoiding the authors we knew didn’t write in the sub-genre that we wanted). After we finally picked up two or three, we looked around the other shelves to see if anything jumped out at us. I realized that my entire book buying process had changed – the mysterious, “will you find what you’re looking for?” environment didn’t work for me anymore. I immediately missed the accompanying Goodreads reviews, the ‘try a sample’ feature, the ‘Customers Who Bought This Also Bought’ prompts. It was too quiet, too isolated, too time-consuming. The musty pages were closing in on me, urging me to make a decision I didn’t really want to make.
With the Paperwhite, however, I safely download tens of book samples, knowing that I can make an informed, personal decision when it comes to buying the book. The purchase happens almost automatically if the book has caught my attention: I reach the end of the sample, I confirm that I want to buy the book (my card information is already stored) and in a few seconds, I go back to the exact spot where I stopped.
I finally picked a couple of books for myself, simply giving in to the fact that I was there after ages, this was something we enjoyed doing when we were in college etc.All the while, my Kindle Paperwhite lay in my bag but I decided what the heck – just do it. One of the books that I bought was Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind Of Girl”. I picked this one, even thought it was a new copy selling at full price, because I have watched a couple of episodes of Girls and read one or two of her essays. I paid Rs.400 for it, put it in a plastic bag with the other two books I bought, and drove home. Out of some strange sense of “I don’t want to violate the sanctity of Blossoms”, I didn’t pull out my Paperwhite in the shop and check the ebook price of Dunham’s book.
I just did and it is Rs.288.
Today, the Paperwhite is my constant companion. I carry it with me to work, when I travel and (most importantly) when I have to spend long hours in the studio waiting for G to finish his recording sessions. It has become an extension of me, a reflection of my new interests (food + travel related books but not the recipe kind) and stores my guilty pleasures (Sidney Sheldon and Sophie Kinsella) as well. But I didn’t really realize how important it is to me until I stepped into my (once) favourite book shop!
(Image taken from here)