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An e-affair to remember

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Robin Doussard
Monday, July 13, 2009

My husband calls it my electronic boyfriend, and not without a bit of jealousy. Hey! Mind out of the sewer. He’s talking about my iPhone.

I’ve had it for almost two years, and I’m as smitten with it now as when I first brought it home, lifted its slim body from its cradle and forever synced it with my life. It’s a phone with benefits. Even when it treated me very badly (my first two iPhones literally blew up) I never thought of dumping it. Sort of like having a bad Italian boyfriend: beautiful, sexy, unreliable, temperamental. (Phone No. 3 has been more faithful, however.) And, ooh la la, we can go shopping together in the Apple App Store, where I pick out fun new toys to bestow on him. When the husband asks me what I’m doing on my phone all the time, I tell him I’m reading the Economist.

My iPhriend has turned out to be a gateway drug. Because of it, I’ve become almost exclusively electronic in my consumption of entertainment. I still get the daily print copy of The New York Times (because, damn, I can’t let those guys go out of business), and I only like magazines in print format, including my own (because damn, I can’t let us guys go out of business). But all my music comes through iTunes now. I don’t buy CDs anymore. I watch movies on my computer instead of my TV; I never buy DVDs and rarely go out to the movie theater. I get most of my news from websites and radio.

So the next logical thing in my printless transformation (and this coming from a person who worked for decades at daily newspapers) was to buy a Kindle a few months ago. I downloaded books at midnight just because I could. I prepared to load a dozen novels for vacation and had visions of me tucking the tidy (but not sexy) little Kindle neatly into my purse, feeling smug as my friends and family lugged around their ratty paperbacks, smudged with gin and guacamole. I spent several hours deciding which cover to buy for it: the expensive Cole Haan leather jacket or the more durable Neoprene?

My husband mournfully asked what would happen to him in this transformation. He’s been relying on me to select books, read them, then give him a critique so that he doesn’t have to wade through all the stinkers out there. Without the ability for me to physically give him a book, he might stop reading altogether and join the Luddite Society. I was flattered that he appreciated my taste (I thought he was just being cheap by not buying books on his own), and did worry a bit about his intellectual health, but I was determined to move entirely to an electronic life.

Then I started reading my first novel on the Kindle. I’m a really — really — fast reader and I read in a “cloud” over several pages at a time. It’s hard to describe. But I couldn’t do that on the Kindle. I could flip the pages quickly, but I couldn’t see more than one page at a time. It made me crazy and irritated. The husband, already feeling abandoned, was equally irritated with the constant clicking while we read in bed.

Two weeks later, I stopped using it. It’s been several months now and haven’t thought of it since. I sometimes feel guilty (actually, I feel guilty about the money), but I’m sorry, K. I’m just not that into you.

My Italian boyfriend just smirked.  

So here we are in the summer reading season, when I’m in the back yard late into the night with a book and it has me thinking about what makes something essential. What makes a killer device? A killer app? Our August issue comes out in two weeks and explores Portland’s community of mobile app developers, and the success they’re having creating those killer apps. I really like that I’m in the midsts of an app bee hive. Gotta have that honey.

And if the developer of the Italian-made-easy app is reading this, I just want to say: La ringrazio, mio fidanzato grazie.



0 #1 An e-ffair to rememberLisa 2009-07-14 13:04:36
Great editorial, very entertaining! I understand the love affair with your iphone as I have a similar one. I've been considering the Kindle too, but since reading your piece, I think I will stick with the paperbacks. Thank you!
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0 #2 An e-ffair to rememberkaren 2009-07-15 17:12:33
Yes, very entertaining but as a kindle lover I have to throw in my two-cents. The device takes some getting use to...I have the old version and know that the changes made to new one must be sweet..but I can see where it wouldn't be for everyone - can I buy your used kindle?
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0 #3 That was a fun read!Steve 2009-07-15 17:14:01
Thank you (and you are an excellent writer.)
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