MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
When you buy an e-book, commentator Andrei Codrescu points out, there are physical benefits.
ANDREI CODRESCU, BYLINE: When I retire, I promised myself I will read all the great books I said I would read one day, and I'll reread all the books I once loved. And all my life, it seems I carried boxes full of these books from one city to another, from one house to another, and I furnished endless rooms and gave away hundreds of volumes, and I put out my back many times. And as soon as I retired, I was ready to begin. I picked up my featherlight Kindle, the great chiropractor, and took off for the woods, where I've been ever since reading books I never intended to, things like "Books Fatal to Their Authors," a lovely history of books that literally got their authors killed by various religious and lay inquisitions.
And when I got back to my study, the books on the shelves glared at me as I sat down to write an update beginning: You books tried to kill me with your great number and weight. Now, I certainly hope that they are as innocent as they look because an Earthquake could make that true yet. And in this matter of books, you can never be sure how many are too many and how heavy is heavy. I hear my friends in the book business moaning with anguish at my trivial concern for my physical body, my apparent disregard for the old paperweights.
Why aren't you shouting about evil Amazon bringing about the end of the book, the end of choice and our vanishing profit margins, about Amazon that like its namesake, the river, is washing every word away in its swell? But I stand concerned only about my back and what books have done to my spine over the years, my flexible spine that, in the name of culture, conspired with my stiff upper lip to keep me from toppling into a grave of my gravest books. I think I have become a selfish monster. I would rather be washed away than wail in pain.
BLOCK: Andrei Codrescu has done his share to increase back pain. He has written 40 books.