It has me reading more than I have in years – but the real change was the realization that it brought me to. That realization was that I am living a life full of distractions. Email, Facebook, Twitter, various blogs, sports results, and the news cycle in general, these things all compete for my attention – and these are just the non-work related items. But, we all know this already. I knew it intellectually, but I didn’t know it intuitively.
Why did the Kindle make this clear to me? Because I bought it for the same reason that anybody buys one. It should simplify your life, and it really did. No more heavy books to tote around or to take up more room on shelves. Really the same reason someone buys a laptop or a smartphone – to combine lots of disparate things into one. But the problem with those devices is that even though they make your work easier (they help you accomplish tasks), they also invite you to avoid those tasks or just forget about them all together as you check your Facebook feed one more time. So really, if you aren’t careful, these things make your life more complicated not simpler. The Kindle doesn’t do that. Theoretically you can check email or got to a website using the Kindle. But, in reality it is a laborious task to undertake. I don’t think I’ve ever done either using my Kindle. Why is this a good thing? Well, it would take me forever to read a book on an iPad because I’d be just as likely to check Netflix to see if there was a movie I’d rather be watching.
The beauty of the kindle is that it does what it is supposed to do – replaces bookshelves worth of books and… that’s it. That’s enough, it doesn’t need to do anything else. It’s actually better that it doesn’t. That concept became vaguely clear to me in the first few weeks I used it, and it has only crystallized further in the subsequent months. The Kindle is actually better because it does less. It does one thing and it does it well. Maybe lots of things in my life would be better if they did one thing at a time. Maybe I’d be better if I only did one at a time. The Kindle does a rare thing, it combines what used to occupy a lot of space into very little while still allowing you to focus on what’s important. When you turn on a Kindle you don’t send a tweet, you just read.