Thursday, September 18, 2014
Happy Inaugural Read an eBook Day!
Once the firefighters let me back in the next night to assess what was salvageable, I could plainly see what I feared the most: my books were gone. The few that hadn't disappeared into the ether were too soaked by sprinklers and steam to rescue. My laptop, Kindle Fire, and charger had fried. (I'd been lucky enough to have my phone in my coat pocket, so it was unscathed.) In just a matter of minutes, the electrical wiring and ancient boiler in my building's basement had conspired to take away everything I had to read. Even my journal of three years was gone.
For about two weeks, I sulked. My parents brought me home to Connecticut to regroup. It would take nearly two months for all of the insurance claims and payments to go through, so I had no prayer of replacing anything. And the local library's lending policies just don't help when you're used to juggling several books at once and going through your collection at least once a day to see what's striking you now.
And then, the lightbulb! I hadn't lost all of my books -- I still had my eBooks! They were backed up on Amazon, BN.com, Dropbox, Google Books, and elsewhere. I could take out and return library books with ease by using OverDrive. I went from crying over lost books to rejoicing over the fact that I still had thousands at my fingertips, all just a few taps away. For all everyone knocks "the Cloud" these days, it saved my reading life. I took the (dreadfully small) insurance cheque and bought a cheap laptop, immediately installed the Kindle, Nook, and OverDrive apps, and got back to my bookworm life.
I am still recuperating as a reader. I have books that still need to be replaced. I am anxious to see what the November and December sales bring in terms of tablet discounts; hopefully I can get a new one. I'll never get that journal back; that rips me apart more than anything.
But eBooks -- those things I once shunned and decried because it was the cool thing to do, I guess -- absolutely saved the day for me. I actually read more now as my eBook usage proportion has gone up, plus I read more diverse books and pay closer attention through highlighting and notetaking (which I'd never even consider in a tangible book). Those terrible, awful, no-good cheaters' "books" were the best thing I had after the fire -- other than my life, obviously -- and my far-greater appreciation for them has been an unexpected but beautiful gift in the aftermath.
Happy eBook Day, everybody. Here's to many more. And check your smoke detectors.