She took to the new device like the proverbial duck to water and was soon extolling its virtues to anyone who cared to listen and downloading books left right and centre.
When we got back home we both decided it was time for a bit of a declutter. Steeling my resolve I ventured into the garage to start weeding out the many boxes of books I have acquired over the years which we no longer have house room for. As I rooted through the stacks of books I fought off the waves of sentimental attachment that are the mark of a compulsive hoarder and forced myself to be ruthless. Some time later I emerged blinking into the daylight with nine big bags of books all tagged up and ready to donate to Oxfam. Why stop there, I thought and now there are about 150 dvds that are going off to a car boot sale on Sunday. Now you can almost see the floor in my garage!
But all this purging got me thinking... in our brave new world of digital content on demand is the writing on the wall for charities and the second hand market? After all, you can't re-sell a Kindle or give it to someone else once your done. The same goes for MP3 files and digital movies. I love browsing the shelves in my local Oxfam book shop and more than a few of the books I donated originated from there in the first place - it's like a virtuous circle. While the authors and publishers may miss the royalties on all these secondary sales an organisation like Oxfam can benefit several times over from a donated book. Even when the book has reached a condition where it's no longer fit to sell it can still be recycled. One of my wee pleasures in life was a rifle through the used CD section in the now sadly closed One Up Records in Aberdeen - a victim of the download era. Now if I want to dip my toe in a new band or artist I can either listen via spotify and suffer the constant adverts or still buy cheap CDs online but have to pay P&P costs which negate any savings made in buying second hand.
Can it be that in a few more years the concept of used books, movies and music will be just another quaint relic of the past? Have I unwittingly contributed to the process when I brought that little black box of electric books into the house?
The more cynical part of my mind tells me that this is all part of a sinister conspiracy by the big publishing houses and entertainment conglomerates to sucker us into parting with more of our hard earned cash yet again and also to destroy the second hand market at last.
Then again, was it ever thus? There's a nice little throwaway gag in the movie Men In Black that kind of sums it all up. Tommy Lee Jones is talking Will Smith's character through some confiscated alien technology. He picks up a gizmo and says:
"This is gonna replace CD's soon; guess I'll have to buy the White Album again."