EMMET MEARA

Time for a Kindle?

Posted April 20, 2012, at 3:40 p.m.

Is it time? It could be time.

This week, Fowlie’s Overpriced Emporium notified me that the Boston Globe had gone up to $2 an issue, much more on Sunday. I thought maybe it was just Fowlie’s that charged the extra 50 cents, but apparently it’s everywhere.

During March, I hid in Florida with a couple from Minnesota who owned a Kindle and downloaded books by the pool. Since there was weak (sometimes no) Wi-Fi service, Mrs. Minnesota checked for weather and email on her itty-bitty phone. I had to go to McDonald’s or the library.

I believe, and not for the first time, that I am being left behind. No one is “old school” like I am. Newspapers have dominated my life from the time I was 10 years old and delivered the Globe, Record and Post on my West Roxbury paper route. In retrospect, I now believe that I delivered the Globe to my estranged aunts, but that is another story. I worked at the Globe as my co-op job from Northeastern University. After career stops in Gloucester and (gulp) North Attleboro, I have been collecting checks from the Bangor Daily News for 40 years. Imagine. I feel like I owe the industry something like lifelong loyalty.

It isn’t a Cobb Manor morning without a strong cup of World Market Sumatra coffee and a newspaper (or three). I know that you can read almost all of it on the Internet, but I like the feel of the newspaper in my hands. I assume I always will. I can see CBS at the door asking for an interview with “the last person still reading a newspaper.”

Texas Larry has always been my consumer guru. He made me buy my house. He insisted that I take Blue Eyes out for dinner (28 years ago). He guided me into high finance with an American Express Card and an explosive checkbook that featured “relative zero” when you just dropped everything and started over, then “absolute zero” when everything disintegrated. On his last visit he had a wafer-thin Kindle device, a sort of electronic reader. I had never seen one before. This was a Kindle DX, naturally the best and biggest (10-inch screen) one made. Naturally Texas Larry got a deal on Black Friday.

Amazon.com now tells me that they are $275.

If (when) I buy a Kindle, I won’t have to buy the Globe at Fowlie’s anymore. The Kindle would pay for itself in just 20 weeks, according to my Roslindale High School math. You can download thousands of books for nothing and the e-books you pay for are a fraction of those at the bookstores, if there are any of them left standing. The fortune I spend every year on Amazon.com on dreary noir novels will be cut dramatically. You can read for a week without recharging. Texas Larry tells me that I could cancel my multiple magazine subscriptions and read them all on Kindle, for free.

When I awake at 2:30 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep, I could simply download a selection from the New York Times or the Edgar Awards, without leaving my bed. For the first time I can rid my bed of the dangerous pile of books and magazines that share my sleeping area. Texas Larry tells me that you can choose the font size and typeface you want for your daily reading. As my eyesight fades with every passing year, this is something to consider.

You can see that I am talking myself into this purchase.

“But wait,” as they say in almost every television ad.

I can bring a book anywhere, even camping in the Cobscook Bay State Park (my favorite) where it is doubtful that there is Internet access. A printed book requires no power line or Wi-Fi connection. Plus, I already know how to read a book. I am a Luddite and will have tremendous problems understanding the Kindle process. Any savings in book purchases could be offset by daily calls to Austin and Texas Larry for technical assistance.

Of course, the biggest drawback to the Kindle is my overriding addiction, crossword puzzles. Each night, I wrestle with the New York Times crossword, and then in the morning I do the News and the Globe puzzle. On slow days I do the USA Today puzzle as well. I don’t know why, exactly, but I must. Now, they tell me it slows brain deterioration and that’s enough for me.

I must reconsider this entire Kindle situation. After I read the newspaper.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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