Or why, really, I love any e-book reader. This post isn't about why you should or shouldn't buy one reader over another. There are a million posts touting the various pros and cons of various readers over others. (I love the ease of the wireless of my Kindle, the e-ink, and the fact that I can download the book I want to read, from bed, after reading a free sample chapter.)
But what I didn't realize was how amazing it was going to be for the reading of manuscripts.
First: my own. I recently finished editor's revisions on Book Two. Instead of printing out 400 pages, I curled up in bed with my Kindle and read my book in the format I'm used to reading. Every time I found something that needed addressing, I either made myself a note on the Kindle using its little keyboard, or I reached over and pulled my laptop over (if I was feeling energetic) and made the change. This doesn't work, of course, for the editing of a first draft, when you need to mark up every single line, every word. But for this kind of work, it's perfect.
Second: others' manuscripts. I just finished reading a draft of my friend Cari's book. Okay. I've known her for probably seven or eight years, before she got her MFA, before she was a mother, before she moved from Brooklyn across country to the west coast. I knew she was a great writer -- I'd seen some of her short work, and I'd read excerpts. I thought I knew her voice.
But people. I knew nothing.
The book hasn't sold quite yet, but it will. And you'll read it someday, and I will jump around and tell everyone, I told you so. Now, I write commercial fiction, but I know from great lit'ture. This will win the big awards. I've never read a book like this before in my life, and while I was huddled over my Kindle, heaving with sobs (and I don't do that while reading -- I'm usually a pretty tough cookie, believe it or not), making the occasional note to pass on to her, I thought, "ISN'T THIS AMAZING? Technology has allowed me to receive this manuscript over email and convert it into a readable paperless form." And all this change has happened in the years since I've known Cari.
(Know what else? Cari can write circles around those high-falutin' literary folk who write Literary Stuff that left me cold after I got my MFA, and you know why? She has, along with the literary gorgeous prose, a plot that will blow your socks off. Stuff happens, and I swear I could hear foundations rocking under me as I clicked my little page-turner.)
I know it's awful. I know it's just a tease that you can't read it yet. But I love all this. It's like a miracle. A gol-danged bloody e-miracle. I'm blessed and lucky and if you're a writer, you should get an e-reader.
I want an iPad, too, someday. Ahem.
* Joy reminds me that you can download a PDF or .doc of a knitting pattern to the Kindle (or other devices) and have it right there. Nice.
** and yes, How to Knit a Love Song will be out on Kindle the day it releases, March 3rd. WOOT!
*** because I'm a dork, I'll totally buy it for my own Kindle. Heh.