Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Revelry Rant: The Amazon Kindle vs Books

Can someone please explain the allure of the Amazon Kindle to me?


As a former English major and book-a-holic, I cannot image my life without reading. And I read fast--really fast. In fact, even though I am in graduate school and work full-time, I still read between 70 and 85 books a year. When I travel, I have to take several books with me and I often end up buying books in airports or bookstores while on trips. And I have an unnatural dislike of library books, so I buy most of what I read (yes, it's a very expensive habit). Additionally, I read several newspapers every day (admittedly most of these are online) and I have subscriptions to about 8 magazines.

But I still cannot understand why anyone would want a Kindle.

First let's start with the obvious: One more thing to plug in and charge. One more thing to worry about breaking and needing repair. One more thing to have to maintain. And one more screen to read, as if we don't spend enough time in front of computers already.

But what concerns me most about the Kindle is this: It is destroying the relationship between the reader and the book AND it is taking the bookstore or library experience out of the equation. Sure, you are still technically reading it....but on a screen, not curling up the pages ever so slightly in your hands, or setting a bookmark inside to keep your place, or turning the pages with reckless abandon to find out what happens next. The magic that happens between book and reader is not so easily recreated electronically. I worry that soon people will deprive themselves of that experience in favor of reading it all on a screen.

Sure, it allows you to take a lot of books with you at once. Sure, it saves trees since it doesn't involve printing on paper.

But I am still not convinced that either of those things are worth more than what the traditional reading experience has added to my life over the years.


Carolyn said...

I love books, I'm obsessed with them, I collect them and adore them. That being said, I still think having a Kindle on the side would be cool (but the price tag is NOT cool) solely for when I travel. I too am a FAST reader, and sometimes it becomes ridiculously burdensome for me to carry all the books i want on a trip. Especially these days when checking in a bag costs extra, and i'd ideally like to just have a carry-on. Additionally, many of the books i read in less than a day are fun chick-lit/beach reads and typically books i don't need/want copies of. I think those are the types of books i'd put on my Kindle.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, I value the touch and feel and experience of a true book as much as the next person. A Kindle would not be a replacement for most of my reading, it'd just be an added convenience for quick-reads. Plus, knowing me, if I really liked a book i read on the Kindle, i'd probably buy myself a real copy as well. So much for saving money!

Christine Claire Reed said...

Yep. Neil Gaiman writes about this. He was so unconvinced until he got one.

He travels a LOT and so it eliminates HAULING. But when he's home -- paper.

See? Each could have their place! :)

Melita said...

totally, 100% prefer books! that being said, i could understand why someone who travels a lot would want one. but, it's not for me.

Allison said...

Thank God people like you still exist! I read about how print media in all forms is slowly dying, and it's like, well, it may be inevitable, but it still sucks, I may be the youngest person around still seeking out bookstores. I'd be interested in trying a Kindle, but most of my travels and vacations involve a beach, and there's no way some little electronic thing can replace a paperback.
Also, if you haven't read "If on a winter's night a traveler," by Italo Calvino, just pick up a copy and read the first couple pages. It starts with the author directly talking to you, the reader, *about* reading the book. He writes as if you're in the bookstore, and says something like "walk past all the books you haven't read, all the books you want to read..." on and on. I gave the book to my boyfriend for Christmas; he read that paragraph to me and I said, "I never thought it was possible to articulate how I feel when I'm in a bookstore."

Marisa said...

I can't say the thought of owning a Kindle appeals to me. My favorite time for reading is in the bath and I can't tell you how many books got dropped as I started to doze off...they do dry out but I doubt a kindle would withstand the same abuse.

Kate Vickers Deriso said...

there is just something about having the real thing. i love the smell of a fresh book. i love the feel of a book that has been read. even better...a book that has been read and is so inspiring that pages are turned down, profound statements have been highlighted or underlined, notes and thoughts have been written into the margins.

i just don't think you can have that with an electric book. i will personally never buy one.