There has been a lot of debate in the past months, if not years, over e-readers vs traditional books. Most arguments point out all the flaws of traditional books and voice a large amount of praise for e-readers. There are some people who stick to traditional books for a variety of reasons, trying their hardest to avoid e-readers at all costs. So after owning a Kindle for nearly two years I thought I would share my thoughts on each.
When I first heard of the Kindle many years ago, I have to admit I was darn excited about the prospect. I couldn’t believe it, what would be greater than carrying hundreds if not thousands of books with you in this small and light weight package. I spoke at great length with someone I, at the time played World of Warcraft with, and she told me all about this amazing device and how as a reader I just had to get one. Well I just had to get one! So I hurried over to Amazon’s site and looked at the other information. It was expensive yes, but the long term benefits of paying that much was well worth it. I happily clicked through to say yes I will purchase this item and then the bad news came. At that time Kindle was not available to people in Canada.
I admit I was a bit disappointed. But I told myself that soon they would be available to me and when I finally got mine it would be well worth the wait. I can’t remember how long it took after that before I was finally able to purchase my Kindle but when I did it was a very exciting time. I convinced my husband to get one for me for Christmas. I picked the Kindle Keyboard and also purchased a case and a decal to make it feel more my own. About two weeks later I had the Kindle, though I wasn’t allowed to use it until Christmas. Luckily for me Christmas was only a short few weeks away. So I passed the time reading my other books which had not yet had the opportunity to entertain me.
When Christmas day finally came I opened my Kindle with much joy. You would have never known that I already knew what my present is by my reaction. I was thoroughly excited about my new bit of technology. After a quick flip through the users guide I plugged it in to charge and went to the Amazon site to pick out the first book of many that I planned to add. With my first book purchased and loaded onto my Kindle I sat down to pound through a few chapters before dinner time.
At first I was very excited. Wow, just look at how the screen truly does look like paper, that’s amazing! How crud this thing can hold that many books? This is amazingly light to hold! The stream of compliments kept flowing for the first little while. I was obviously feeling what every other Kindle owner at the time felt when they first got their hands on one. But then the negative feelings started to show up as well.
I like peace and quiet while reading. Any sounds interrupts the flow of words for me and breaks my concentration. While the subtle shift of a paper page turned could be classified as a distraction it is so insignificant that I can easily ignore it. With a Kindle, every time I “turn” the page I am greeted with an annoying click sound. I don’t know if every Kindle out there is like that, I can only assume they are, and to hear a click every time I switch to the next page is highly annoying. Hearing it several hundred times while reading a long novel grates on my nerves. So that was strike one for the Kindle.
At first the weight of the Kindle felt good in my hands. A lot of people complain that reading thick fantasy novels, especially those hard cover editions, really bothered their wrists after a while. Something that was solved by picking up a light weight Kindle. I must admit the weight of books has never bothered me. I can hold a thick nine hundred page book just as easily as a small three hundred page book. As long as the content of the novel is good I am content to deal with whatever weight it presents to my hands. After about twenty minutes of using my new Kindle my wrist was aching, so I switched to my other hand only to find the same thing happen. As a result I started to hold it with both hands. No matter how I held it the weight felt awkward as did the thickness of the Kindle. I would much rather hold a four pound monstrosity of a hard cover book than a thin little Kindle. This was strike two.
Though having two negatives against it I continued to try and use my Kindle. After months of owning it I still had not yet finished that first, and at the time, only book that I had purchased on it. It’s not that the book was bad, on the contrary I wanted desperately to keep reading but between the unpleasant feeling of the Kindle in my hands and the page turning click I found the desire to read it dwindling fast. But I endured until I finally realized the third reason why I dislike my Kindle.
One day after finishing some work around the house I decided they I was going to sit down with my irksome Kindle and just force myself to ignore the issues I had with it so that I could finish the book. So I pull the thing out of it’s case, settle down into my nice reading chair and flip it on. Only it didn’t turn on. The battery was dead! I had last turned it on a day ago, the battery had been at 50% remaining and today it was dead. That pissed me off more than anything else. So I angrily fetched the cord, plugged it in and waited. While the upside is that it only takes a couple of minutes of charging before you can start reading again, as long as you leave it plugged in to continue charging, the fact of the matter is I have to wait. With traditional books I don’t need to worry about battery life. I can read them anytime, anywhere as long as there is enough light in the room. Well needless to say by the time there was enough charge in it to start reading again I had lost my desire to do so. I left it to charge and moved on to another book, one that did not require a Kindle to read. Oh boy, this is strike four.
Now, for all the faults of the Kindle so far I continued to attempt to read on it. The fact of the matter is, that until a little over a month ago I have never been able to finish a book on my Kindle. Nearly two years of owning it and I only just recently finally finished reading an entire book on it. That does not bode well.
As for my final, at least for now, reason as to why I dislike the Kindle, well it’s actually quite simple. I love the feel of a book in my hand. An actual book, with a beautiful cover, crisp pages just wanting to be turned. I enjoy feeling the weight of a book shift from right to left as I turn page after page. I love the smell of a new book. Nothing is better than opening up a new book and getting a waft of that paper, it pulls me in, making me want to read all that more. Not to mention the fact that nothing beats walking into a bookstore filled with shelves everywhere jam packed with all manner of books. Walking down the aisles I can run my fingers along the spines of the book, taking in the titles, the thickness of the novel. Then when I find one that catches my eye picking it up, admiring the cover, reading the synopsis on the book and then flipping through to a random page and seeing the words hidden within. Yes, that is paradise to me right there and it is something you cannot do on a Kindle.
Buying books for a Kindle, or any e-reader for that matter, feels so impersonal. You go to a site, you click on a book, click purchase, wait a couple of seconds and then you start reading it. No, just no. I like strolling the aisles of a book store, stumbling upon books you hadn’t even planned on buying, having a clerk ask me if I need help or if I found everything I was looking for. It also allows me to get yet another new bookmark, something I love just as much as I love real books.
Sure books may take up a large amount of space. Yes, they may feel heavy in ones hand while reading. I absolutely have books scattered about every single room of my house (bathroom excluded). But honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will continue to use my Kindle off and on, as it does have a number of positives, but the negatives keep me buying real books more often than not. Because simply I would rather have a house packed full of books than to have them all hidden away from everyone’s view on a Kindle.
Do you agree? Is the Kindle, or other e-reader, less impressive than you first thought? Or are you one of many that have turned your back on real books because of the positives surrounding the Kindle?