Friday, 13 January 2012

Kindle vs Real Life books

To be honest I wasn’t really that desperate to own a Kindle. I saw them and held one and got what it was all about and totally understood the rationale behind them and thought it would be great for when you went on holiday but for someone with a bookcase groaning under the weight of many unread books who hasn’t been on holiday for years, it just didn’t really feel like a must-have item.

I could see the appeal though. I was getting tired of lugging a book around everywhere with me, getting frustrated because I’d left a book at work that I really wanted to read at home, or I’d be travelling with two books, just in case I finished one and would be unimaginably left with nothing to read.

Then I decided that I would not be buying any more books in 2012, which was freaking me out just a little, and not long after my Dad asked me how I felt about Kindles and would I like one for Christmas. I immediately,
a) saw a loophole in my resolution, and,
b) thought I should take the opportunity to get one as I’m unlikely to ever spend that kind of money myself on it.

So I gratefully accepted and went for the smaller Kindle. My Dad did point out that it wouldn’t hold as many books, but I said I reckoned that space for over 1,000 would probably do me for a while!

Its role has become my travelling book, so it’s in my bag at all times to be read at work on my lunch break and if I’m lazy and get the bus. Home will be my place for reading “real” books.

Using it is easy peasy lemon squeezy. It’s incredibly easy to handle and work out which buttons to press. The only hard part actually is refraining from touching it like I’m used to doing with my phone, I still find myself automatically doing that sometimes – oh how times have changed!

But I’m still struggling with the concept of it. It just does not feel the same as reading a book. I read Northanger Abbey and instead of that feeling of turning the last page, I just knew I’d reached 100% read. There was no reflective pause where I put the book down and then turn it over to look at its front cover one more time. No riffling the pages through my fingers, no shoving my nose into the middle of it to smell its bookness and no satisfying noise as I turn the page or slide my bookmark into place. To be honest I don’t feel like I’ve read a book at all which puts a bit of a dampener on things.

One of my favourite activities is the point where I’m about to choose a new book to read. I stand in front of my bookshelf and cast my eye over all the spines. I look at the different colours and fonts and see what jumps out at me. I look at the size of the book, am I in the mood to tackle something weighty or do I want something a little easier to get through? I admire the lovely alphabetical order and linger over particular authors that I enjoy – do I feel like reading another one of theirs or shall I go for something new? I love that process.

With my Kindlle I turn it on and look at my home page. So far I have three different sets, “Fiction”, “Non-fiction” and “Classics” (now this is something I need to do with my own bookshelves!) and within those are a couple of books. No colourfulness. No different fonts. Just listed titles. I have no idea how big the book is, I don’t know what I’m getting into. If I want to just read the “back” of the book and find out what it’s about I have to connect to the internet and that’s just not always possible. Which of those two experiences sound more pleasant?

And what about when it comes to buying books? I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be able to see my Not Really Resolution of not buying any physical books this year through. I like wandering into bookshops or even just wandering down the book aisle in Tesco and seeing what’s out there. I like it when there’s not a book I have in mind that I want, I just look at the covers and see what takes my fancy. I get the thrill of selecting my choice and taking it to the till and paying for it and carrying it home with me. Even when I order books over the internet you still receive something physical, there’s something to show for the money you’ve spent and you get that satisfaction.

With the Kindle there is none of that satisfaction, and it’s borderline dangerous. It’s linked to my Amazon account and my card details, so buying a new book is literally the click of a button. No taking you to a virtual checkout and filling in your details, just boom and there’s a message that says the book has been downloaded and there it is on your home screen. Instead of that warm “I’ve just bought a book” fuzzy feeling, you’re left feeling a little shallow inside.

I did wonder if some of my problem was that I just don’t have enough on my Kindle at the moment. There isn’t really a ‘library’ to browse and there are only so many Classics I can take. I have downloaded a couple which have cost me a few pounds but I’m still not feeling that buzz of electricity. Even visiting the “store” is soul-less and doesn’t compare to the hours I can spend wandering round a branch of Waterstones.

I know this sounds like I hate it and I really don’t. I think it’s the most amazing piece of gadgetry I own and I think that the more books I get on it and the more I use it, the more I will warm to it, and if I get to go on holiday this year I’m sure I will thank my lucky stars that I have it; but right now at this minute, it doesn’t compare to my real-life babies.


  1. Ah I do that 'reflective pause' thing too when I finish a book! You've summed up perfectly how I think I feel about Kindles, not owning one myself, but I daresay they'd be a godsend on holiday - I always take about four books and then don't fancy any of them!

  2. Hello, been reading a while but never commented, but just wanted to say that I found this really interesting. I've been considering getting a kindle, especially after our local charity shop has stopped taking books - it seems that they're piling up in stacks all around the house! One thing that's been putting me off is that I like to read in the bath - this, in combination with the fact that I'm incredibly clumsy, doesn't bode well for anything electrical!

  3. I know what you mean about feeling like you haven't properly read a book. I barely have time to pick up a REAL book in the day which makes me sad. But I have somehow managed to finish four on my Kindle in the last few months..all in the evenings after my kids have gone to bed. It seems so much easier to pull out my Kindle and read away (it's on my phone as an app - which makes it even more sad)and I get lost in doing it.

    But I too, miss the sound of the pages and the small of 'bookness'
    That is what makes books the most amazing version of whatever new-fangled version 'they' will come up with in the future. Nothing can beat the beautiful art work on the cover or an ornate spine. Nothing beats the smell of old/new book. And no matter how handy my Kindle is, as I glance up now to my three shelves of antiquarian (charity shop) books, I find it hard to imagine in 80, 90, 120 years or so..some other girl will be glancing up at her three shelves of antiquarian (charity shop) Kindles! I say enjoy all books, in all of the ways. But each time you pick up a real one you'll always get that lovely bookish buzz! Nothing beats that :)

  4. DO you know, I totally totally agree with everything you say about it! That sums up much of what I feel about the whole 'To Kindle or not to Kindle' argument!

  5. One day books will be a rarity... it is good to still cherish them! Kindle does make sense but old is always still of some value! :) xxx

  6. I think you've summed things up perfectly. I don't want one - for all the reasons you've stated, but I can see that they have their plus points.

  7. Andy bought a Kindle at the weekend. He likes it more than he likes me. I like the Kindle less as a result of this.

  8. A few things:

    1. Thanks for sending me over here! I like hearing what other people have to say about the whole eReading/Reading debate.

    2. My Kindle was a gift from my dad too. Dads are great.

    3. Are you on Goodreads? I ask because browsing on Goodreads feels a lot like browsing at a bookstore. It's very bright, there are tons of reviews from other users, and the summary from the book jacket is usually on the site as well. Plus, I haven't discovered a single book that isn't registered on Goodreads. Since I live in Germany (and don't read German) I do A LOT of online shopping for reading material, and lately I always check out any book's reviews and details on Goodreads before I purchase it. I have a "to read" list on Goodreads that's at least 100 books long, so any time I'm out of new reading material, the first thing I do is check and see if a few of those books are available for the Kindle. They almost always are. Anyhow, if you haven't discovered it yet, go now:

  9. I do know what you mean about the bookshop experience but I love my Kindle dearly. I read so much more and love the fact I can read one handed, it was god send when I had to go to hospital. It also means I don't have overflowing book shelves any more! The only thing that I find frustrating is that when I read something I know someone will like I can't give/lend them the book! x

  10. Between these two ways of reading, I definitely chose eBooks, but only because I can have hundreds of them on a little, portable device and I can take it everywhere I go. However, I also like to have a big, diversified library... which is my dream.
    It's great that a friend told me about All you can books... a really good site, where I found some interesting eBooks... All we need is to have time to read all of them :D


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