A month ago I found an advertisement for a severely underpriced brand new Kindle e-reader. I immediately drove away to a very common small house in Rinkaby, a village outside Kristianstad. When I rang the doorbell a man in his early fifties opened, dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt. He was somewhat fat, but tall and strong-looking. He spoke in short sentences and showed no intention to socialise with his Kindle’s new owner. A woman, probably his wife, stood in the kitchen cooking some kind of simple modern magazine-style food. She was about his age or some years younger, with blonded hair and wearing a tank-top that exposed her buxom arms and large portion of her breasts. The kitchen looked like it had been renovated recently. Surely this didn’t seem to be a proper place for a reading pad and the man and the woman seemed to be sensible enough to get rid of it as rapidly and as simply as possible.
I thought it was a happy example of well-functioning capitalism, an e-reader changing owners from people who don’t read books to people who read books. So I carelessly placed it in my gas-guzzling Volvo 850 and drove home, without thinking that an e-reader could have its own sensibilities. As soon as we came home it showed me it had. Every time I didn’t turn the page for a few minutes, it showed me a picture. A black-and-white photo of pencils, ink on paper, ink in a small bottle, pens, types, building blocks with letters on…The picture stood out from the old sofa where I had put the Kindle away from me. It also didn’t fit in among the scattered papers and books and cables and pencils on my desk. Neither among the carelessly potted plants in my window frame. Nor on the floor next to the dehumidifier.
No, the Kindle signalled it wanted to be in a better home. A home with light colours, clean open spaces and furniture with straight modern lines. It could also think of lying on an old-fashioned, heavy oak-desk when not being read on. A home with a mixture of things which just happen to be there? Forget about it. A home with traces of children? No-no. A tidy home with flowery curtains and a painting of a lake and an elk on the wall? Don’t even think about it.
“Hey, you’re just a gadget”, I thought. “You don’t have the right to decide who should own you. I bought you with real money, although less than I should”. So the fight begun. I hacked it to get rid of the pictures, but then the e-reader answered by devouring the battery. I tried to hide it, but then I couldn’t find it when I needed it. Gradually we developed a more stable balance of terror consisting of low-intense contempt for each other. Do you also have an e-reader who longs to a better place? Please share your experience with me.