Ode to the Kindle


Remy just posted about his Kindle breaking, and how he felt oddly affected by this:

Somehow, I felt weird about throwing away a bit of consumer technology. Except, the Kindle to me, wasn’t that at all. I hold a great fondness to this little device, and that’s an odd concept for me to grasp.

I can relate. I have had many conversations over the years where I’ve told people that out of all the devices and gadgets I own, my Kindle—one of the least powerful and cheapest devices—is the one that I am most protective of. I’ve never been entirely able to explain why that is.

For Remy, his affection for his Kindle is pretty personal:

I’d struggled reading books in the past for a number of reasons: I used to use glasses to help my focus when reading (when I was 18), the size of the books were daunting to me (it took me 6 solid months to read Frankenstein on paperback), and all of this cumulative to a very slow and painful reading process, which put me off the entire experience.

The Kindle changed a few things for me: firstly, I had no idea the size of the book, and I’ve never really understood the percentage progress (or my thumb is over it intentionally). Secondly, I found that raising the font size and increasing the line height made the pages entirely readable for me.

Since that December in 2016 and mid-2018, I’ve read nearly 50 books. This is a huge deal for me, and my Kindle was there for every page.

That last bit (emphasis mine) resonated with me and got me thinking again about why exactly I’m so attached to mine. I think it boils down to focus and deliberate intent.

My laptop and phone are very powerful devices, but they’re not devices for focus.

I use my laptop for both work and play, and whenever it’s open, there is a myriad of different applications and processes I’m toggling between. I end up hopping between my browser, my editor, my calendar, my terminal session, Sketch if I’m doing front-end work and Slack when something comes up. I probably have music playing.

My phone is worse. Granted, it’s not as easy to hop between different applications as the laptop, but anyone with a smartphone knows “focused” would be the most inappropriate adjective to possibly apply to a smartphone. Most of the time, I pick up my phone because some notification somewhere sucked me in. I also use it when I have a few moments of downtime and am aimlessly searching for a distraction.

With either device, there is always this sense that there is more I could be doing on that device. YouTube, Twitter, Slack—you name it—they all beckon for attention.

But the Kindle is nothing like that.

When I pick up my Kindle, it’s always intentional. No notifications are pulling me in. It doesn’t buzz or light up. If I open my Kindle, it’s because I wanted to.

And while you can use the eternally “experimental” browser or browse Goodreads on your Kindle, neither of those take center stage. The Kindle is a device that focuses on reading books (and, admittedly, on buying more books to read). So when I pick it up, I open the book I want to read, sit back and get immersed in it with nothing else to distract me.

It’s deliberate. It’s focused. It’s calm.

We’re increasingly surrounded by needy technology—technology that constantly tries to distract us in order to get our attention. There’s something refreshing and appealing about technology that is calm and focused.