My (fledgling) digital life

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am a late adapter to just about everything, particularly technology. I’m sure I was the last person using dial-up Internet, last to get a cell phone, very last to get a smart phone, and I still own a computer with Word Perfect on it.

I like my old stuff. I just (under duress) traded in my 23-year-old-car with roll-down windows and a cassette player. My house is 150 years old. I’ve had the same husband for 30 years. I get practically misty-eyed thinking about my inherited 1960s rotary phone sitting in the living room (and still fully functional). And then there’s my enormous print book collection, scattered all over the house in over 30 bookcases.

Why should I bother with this new idea of ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, to read or listen on a computer or mobile device? Paper is perfectly fine, right? For years, I resisted, not quite a luddite but certainly not in the vanguard. Oh, I had lots of seemingly valid reasons-didn’t have the right equipment, couldn’t figure out the software, the title selection wasn’t appealing, I was confused about which gadget to invest in, etc. I did have a computer, but what possible use could I have for a mobile device?

And then one day, I decided enough was enough and bought a Nook color. I must tell you, it was love at first sight. The first month I had it, I took it on vacation and was fogged in at the San Francisco airport. For hours, I sat in those incredibly uncomfortable plastic chairs, with my coffee in one hand, my bagel in the other, the Nook perched on my knee: hands-free reading, USE #1. The next month, we drove to Southwestern Virginia, and as it got darker, I could keep reading (no worries, I was not driving), no flashlight necessary: backlighting reigns supreme, USE #2. I was well on my way to being a convert.

Today, I find all kinds of unexpected pluses in the ebook and downloadable audiobook column and not much of a downside. Last time I went on a long trip, I only took ONE paperback and everything else was on a device: no heavy luggage, USE #3.  I love to stand in my kitchen and quickly download an audiobook on my way out the door to walk the dog. I like reading in a dark room, with no other light except for the fireplace. I read or listen while on the treadmill.

But I think some of the best uses of this new technology have come from people I talk to every day, who tell me how much unexpected joy and pleasure they have gotten out of this new technology.  One woman told me of how her husband had not been able to read for years because even large print was too small but with his Kindle, he could make the font size large enough for him to see the words. Or the woman who told me she spent so much time waiting at various doctor’s offices that it was lovely to have a device light enough and small enough to fit in her purse. Or consider the mom who said how wonderful it was to have something on her phone to read while waiting for sports practices to finish, the commuter listening on the train every day to make the commute more palatable, or the numerous folks who love the backlighting and how it makes the “page” so crisp and clean. And don’t forget the student who needs a book right away, dreads having to buy it, and discovers it in our collection-for free!

But the most magical use to me is the ability to improve someone else’s day from many miles away, with just a few keystrokes. An avid reader, my mother-in-law had made a habit of sitting in her chair with a cup of tea every afternoon for an hour, quietly reading. Towards the end of her life, she was often too weak to hold a book for very long and was missing her afternoon respite. I suggested she read on her iPod and though she was very computer savvy, at this point in her life, she had neither the energy nor the desire to fiddle with downloading. So I sent her my Kindle (along with my husband so he could teach her how to use it). Here in New Jersey, I would login to my Princeton Overdrive account, select and check out five books (the limit) and send them to my Kindle. In California, my mother-in-law had only to turn on the device and VOILA! she would have books. Magic.

If you are interested in joining the world of digital downloading on your computer or device, such as a phone, please don’t hesitate to ask us for help. Stop by the Welcome Desk or the 2nd floor desk and we’ll be happy to get you started. If I can do it, so can you.

Photo courtesy of creative commons flickr user 

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