I love books. Always have, even as a child. I love holding them, feeling their weight in my hands. I love how they smell. I love the texture of the paper. I love turning the pages. And mostly, I love seeing them around. I have books everywhere. In every room. Stacked on every surface. On the floor, on tables, on shelves, in bookcases.
When the first Kindle was introduced to the market, I swore I’d never buy one. A friend of mine extolled its virtues from the get-go. You could have thousands of books loaded and ready-to-read, right at your fingertips. And how great would that be for vacations? It was so lightweight; and again, how perfect is that when you’re travelling? You could have it with you, all the time, in your handbag or briefcase; and you’d always have something to read. Always.
All good and valid points. But. It just wouldn’t be the same as reading a book. Not for me. And for the longest time, I stuck to my guns.
Then iPad 1 was released. This same friend bought one. In fact a lot of people I know bought one; and they all loved, loved, loved them. I was unmoved. Mildly curious, but resolute. Didn’t need one. Wouldn’t read on it. And while I admired all the other stuff it offered, between my MacBook Air and my iPhone I had it covered.
It was August. We were getting very close to Film Festival time. The same friend and I were having coffee. She whipped out her iPad and started giving me a demo. “How could you not want one?” she asked. And then she hit my hot button:
When you see five and six movies a day at the Festival, like I did, you find yourself standing in a lot of lines. Part of a Film Festival survival kit (along with snacks, mints, water, a hat, a sweater and an umbrella) is a book. Reading helps pass the time when you’re waiting to go into a theatre, and for the movie to start. And the downside of a book is, you inevitably finish the book before you’re done seeing movies for the day. But there’s no time to find a bookstore to buy another one. So if you’re not in the mood to talk to your line mates, your only other option is to stand there, twiddling your thumbs.
“But”, she said, “With an iPad, all you’d do is download another book, or a magazine, or even do some work (there’s a Pages App you can buy). Before I knew it, we were headed for the Apple store.
Now I’m addicted. That’s right. The woman who swore she’d never do it. To date I’ve bought seventy-four books. I also have the New York Times and Flipboard Apps; and I’ve also subscribed to a few magazines. I do still buy books and I always will. But what a bookstore cannot do, is satisfy the craving I now can’t seem to control.
The desire to have it immediately.
That ‘need’, that grabs you and won’t let go. “I want it now. You can have it, right now. Come on, you know you want it now. Just get it already. Now. Right this minute.” When I read the New York Times book review section at 7 or 8 in the morning, I don’t have to wait until the store opens at 10. I can buy it right now. By the time 10 a.m. comes along, I can already be well into the book. When a friend calls at 10 at night and raves about a book she’s just finished, I don’t have to wait until the store opens the next morning. I can buy it right now; and stay up half the night reading it.
Yes, yes, I know. I could also go online and buy it. But then I’d have to wait a few days for it to be delivered. It would be faster to just wait for the store to open.
We’ve become impatient.
Especially when it comes to money. We want to get rich quick. Which is how slime bags like Bernie Madoff can bilk millions and millions of people out of millions and millions of dollars. It wasn’t just his victims’ greed that got them. They also fell for the idea that they’d get all those amazing returns immediately! No waiting necessary. Poof!
Nowadays we’re always in a hurry. In a rush to get from A to B. To get our food, in a restaurant. To be the first to own the latest technology. Or the latest fashion. Or the latest car. To be promoted. To be successful. To get married. Or, as in the case of Kim Kardashian, to get divorced.
But are we missing out on something? Seems to me that back in the day, before everything was so easily and quickly accessible, there was a lot of pleasure to be derived by ‘anticipating’ whatever it is that we coveted. Whether it was a kiss, or a chocolate sundae, or your first cashmere sweater, or wondering whether the baby in your belly would turn out to be a boy or a girl, or losing twenty pounds.
Thinking about it, dreaming about it, hoping, wanting it so badly you could almost taste it. Wasn’t that almost as good as actually having it? Anticipation. Do we even know what that means any more?