Friday, 21 February 2014

thoughts on: the Kindle

Mitch had been threatening wanting to buy me a kindle for about 3 years and every Christmas I responded with, "no, thank you". And then, this summer, whilst in Italy, I ran out of books to read (I also ruined one thanks to the glue holding the spine together melting in the scorching Italian heat - oops). So, this Christmas, Mitch ignored my "no, thank you" and bought me a kindle. I've just finished reading my first ever book on it, here are my thoughts.

Before: Every time I see those ridiculous posters with people holding a kindle and happily exclaiming (in a speech bubble): "it's just like reading a book!" I always respond (in my head of course) with "well why don't you read a blooming book then?" I love the feel of a book, the smell of a new book, thumbing the pages, folding down the corner of the page to mark my place (yup, I'm one of those, much to the annoyance of my sister), lending books, borrowing books, occasionally underlining stuff, perhaps doing that cheeky thing where you read a paragraph a few chapters ahead of where you are (I can't be the only one who does that). All these things that I love about a physical book would be completely lost on a kindle, why would I ever want to use one?

During: Wow, turning the page on crowded tube train no longer requires you to use two hands and perform a balancing act! I could get used to this. 'WARNING LOW BATTERY PLEASE CHARGE YOUR KINDLE'. Well, real books don't need to be charged. [Annoyingly, I had no idea that my kindle was on low battery because I never return to the home screen (why would I need to?). It'd be better if the battery sign was visible whilst you're in read mode.] I've been reading this book for ages and I'm still only 46% (*shudder* percentages) in, how long is this book? (I was reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tart and having not seen the actual book until a friend showed me her copy, I had no idea that it was a beast at nearly 800 pages.)

After: Clicking to the final page, rather than shutting the book, was pretty anti-climactic especially as I clicked again incase there was something more and instead found myself on the acknowledgement page. I clicked again and then found Amazon recommending other books I should buy. Paper books obviously list the author's other works but the kindle just felt much more like: "now buy this! Consume some more!"

But let's be more general: there are definite up-sides to the kindle, size being the main one. It hardly took up any room in my bag (particularly great in terms of the brick that was The Goldfinch) and hardly weighs a thing. The page turning button was also a bit of a revelation and massively useful when clinging on to a hand rail on a crowded tube. Also, once it is charged fully, the battery lasts for ages. However, all those things I mentioned above - the feel of a book, page thumbing etc etc - are, obviously, completely lost and, as I expected, it bothered me. I'll also add to that list of loss: cover art, back cover blurb and having any physical sense of how far into a book you are (a percentage is just not cool). I'm not going to be completely damning of the kindle though because I can see how it could be very useful if you were going on a long holiday and didn't have room to pack several actual books. Plus, it has a number of free book including a lot of classics which I really want to read (Treasure Island!). Unexpectedly, it's turned out to be v.handy for me of late. As we're in the process of moving, all my books have been packed away, and, were it not for the kindle, I'd be forced to read the metro so I'm cutting it some slack.

Conclusion: Useful for: holidays, large books, busy commutes. It will get used but really it's just another screen (and god knows I look at enough of those everyday) so there's no way I'm giving up the good old paper and print book any time soon.

Are you an e-reader-er or are you all about the printed word?


  1. I have a kindle that (long story short) I got stuck with one Christmas. It's not something that's ever appealed to me at all for the exact same reasons that you listed above. I love the smell especially! I'm not one to read ahead, but each time I start a new chapter I count the pages first. I've only used my kindle a handful of times in the 3 or so years I've had it. I will forever be a non e-reader. I agree that it would be great for vacations though. :) Great post!

    1. Yeah I think I'll definitely be using mine when I go away in April but I've got quite a few printed books for Christmas and I'm really looking forward to reading them!

  2. I adore my kindle and I was one of those saddos that said "wow it is just like a real book on the page!" I've just finished reading the Goldfinch on it as well - spooky! It is great for the commute and my bag like you say, before that I'd had to lug the 600 page Poisonwood Bible around which wasn't great!

    I still use the library as I love books - and often covers will catch my eye, but for 99p for a great book and one which I won't ruin by smashing it in my bag or spilling stuff on then it is pretty handy x

  3. I think I just really like perusing people's bookshelves (and having my own) so that I can lend/borrow stuff. Although, talking of ruining books in my bag, I've bent many a corner of my sister's books and it drives her mad! x


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