Monday, 15 July 2013

Conversation starters

Some people are gifted in the art of conversation. No topic is too big or small with them and it doesn't matter whether they know the person they're talking to; a conversation started by a few keen questions is never too far away.

Some of us are a bit shy. However, I have discovered that I possess a sure-fire conversation starter: my Kindle. Rather than becoming the solo pursuit it appears to be, my Kindle has been the subject of fascination by so many people, old and young, who are curious to know all about it.

The conversation usually goes something like this: "Is that a Kindle? Wow, it looks really light. Can I hold it/see how heavy it is? Oh, even in a case this is really light and easy to hold! That's such a cute case! Where did you get it from? How much did it cost? Do you like reading off it? Does the light go brighter? Wow, that's really clear! How do you turn the page? ..." And so on.

A while ago, there was an elderly couple sitting next to me on the plane. The gentleman noticed my Kindle and proudly declared, "I know what that is. I email my grandson." A quick look around my Kindle bookshelf helped clarify things. I followed it up with a demo on how you can make the font bigger and saw his eyes light up. You see, he and his wife have been making the trip from Gisborne to Christchurch for several months while he had cochlear implants surgically inserted then repeatedly adjusted. His hearing loss has meant that reading is one of the pleasures he can still enjoy until the implants are full functioning. The three of us chatted all the way through our flight. What a lovely couple they were.

Then there was the woman sitting next to me while we were waiting to be called for jury service. You see, she has arthritis and struggles to comfortably hold the novels she loves to read. Isn't it amazing how lightweight a Kindle is? And you can turn the page just by tapping on it? She went home and ordered one from Amazon that night.

I finally realised the power of the Kindle as a conversation started on a flight this evening. The person sitting next to me was reading from her iPad. We had the usual Kindle conversation and she admitted that she hasn't quite worked out the settings on her iPad to stop the power saver from kicking in, dulling the screen or turning off unless she moves something (or skips a page). We got talking and she told me she is really excited about to be beginning a journey of two years' postgraduate study ... we traded some war stories about the benefits and perils of study and other things. She said she realised she wouldn't have much time to read for pleasure any more, then showed me what she was currently trying to finish before her study began: a huge tome called Les Misérables. I showed her that I had Les Mis on my Kindle, ready to read (for free!). And so we talked about musicals, theatre, production, study, writing, publishing ... I didn't even notice that we'd landed. As we left to go our separate ways at the airport, she assured me she was going home to look up Kindle deliveries before leaving for overseas. Seriously, Amazon should pay me a commission as I’m sure I’ve ‘sold’ several Kindles this year alone.

For those book snobs who accuse me of selling out: get over it. I've heard it all: "It's not the same. I like the feel of a real book/curling up with a book in bed/the smell of paper blah blah." I can assure you from personal experience that you can curl up just as easily with a Kindle as any other book. Then there's the cost factor. Buying a best seller for ~$37 or ~$10? I know what I'd rather pay, and there are so many free or really cheap books that are instantly available. They're especially practical when you're travelling or commuting. And why carry one book with you to read when you can have 1000 in your bag all the time?

Are you an ebook convert? Or do you still prefer tree books? I should point out that I still regularly borrow books from the library and love browsing through bookshops, but am totally, unashamedly in love with my Kindle. And its super powers as a conversation starter are a bonus.

1 comment:

wellreadkitty said...

I LOVE eBooks!!! I love the convenience of having so many books at my fingertips, the cheapness compared with "real books", the instantness of delivery and the inbuilt dictionary/web search function. But I do loathe those high and mighty types who exclaim "oh but it's just not the same, I need the feel/smell/realness of a proper book." Do you really? Isn't the story the same, just the vehicle of delivery?