Why a Kindle isn’t on my holiday wishlist

My idea of a good Saturday used to involve going to the library in the morning, getting a stack of books, and spending the rest of the day in my sunny room devouring one after another. Even though I no longer have the leisure to do that everKindle Reading Devicey Saturday, I’m still definitely a book junkie.

So, here’s my next question: can you be green and a booklover at the same time? (Books are basically dead trees.) Amazon’s answer is, yes, of course you can. Go on, buy a Kindle and go digital. (Alternately, you could plant a tree for every book you read.)

Amazon is probably right. Even figuring in the carbon footprint of a Kindle over its lifetime, including manufacturing, transporting, energy consumption, and finally recycling, I’m sure it comes out to less than what my personal library has incurred. But I still have trouble stomaching the idea of curling up with…an electronic device. Of having no visible books in a room. Of not being able to flip through and touch actual pages, admire unique fonts, shelve them in my idiosyncratic filing system.

Part of me is glad that Kindle may mean that fewer trees are cut down to produce Danielle Steeles, Tom Clancys, Sidney Sheldons, and all the other mass market crap I don’t read and would never buy in the first place. (Sorry.)

However, there is something special about a physical book. Part of it is tactile: the texture of the cover, the smell of newly printed pages, the slight signs of wear left by your own hands and repeated readings. I treat my books nicely, but many of my favorites still carry the marks of my affection: a tiny splash of tea, a smudge of chocolate, a few strands of cat hair poking out at one end.  My own books are as familiar and comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers, and their history is at least partially my history.  

I know nostalgia alone isn’t a good enough reason to keep killing trees. But I reserve the right to be un-green in at least a few areas of my life. Having a car is one of them. Not switching to solar power or digital books are two others. You eat meat; I’ll read paper books. We’ll both pretend we can’t do without.

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