You’ve probably heard that saying: “Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.” Well, it makes sense. You end up buyin’ all kinds of junk food that looks yummy, or buyin’ way more than you planned on.
Which reminds me of that time I went to a liquor store sober.
Dude. Big mistake. (“Awww, man, gotta get me some of this vodka. And this gin. Get some gin. Ooooo, tequila, get that.”)
Well, wouldn’t you know it, just the other day I walked into Book People here in Austin…. and I walked in stupid. Because there is so much that I don’t know, well, suddenly I’m reachin’ for every stinkin’ book on the shelves.
(“Gotta get me the new Seth Godin book. Oh, man, and lookit this new Gladwell title, ‘Outliers.’ He’s so smart, gotta git that.”)
Man oh man, I nearly flattened the embossed numbers on my Mastercard.
You know what might cure me of this book problem?
The new Kindle. Reason I say that is because the Kindle ads promise it can store 3,500 titles. Three thousand five hundred titles?
Here’s the thing. I’m a pretty fast reader. On vacation, I can put away about a book a day. But even at my best, … 3,500 titles? Polishing off that digital bookshelf would take nine and a half years of constant speed reading. Even Evelyn Wood, the speed-reading queen, man, at around book #1,954 … wouldn’t she just blow up?
Do I really need to carry 3,500 books on vacation? A guy named Barry Schwarz wrote a cool book called The Paradox of Choice. His main thesis: “We assume that more choice means greater satisfaction when it fact it means less.” He posits that a massive number of things to choose from can make a person feel bewildered, then anxious, and ultimately less satisfied after taking a purchase decision.
I think I know what Mr. Schwarz’s talkin’ about. Can you imagine if the first iPod’s commercials promised “A Trillion Songs In Your Pocket.” Man, I’d just tip over at the concept of a mathematical eternity burnin’ a hole in my pocket. I’d blow up.
Don’t get me wrong, I happen to love my e-reader (an iPad). But I don’t think the main promise of a Kindle or an iPad is Brobdingnagian memory. Just gimme a digital L.L.Bean-tote’s-worth of titles. Just enough books to get me through the Labor Day weekend.