I feel I must start this post by stating that I am not an employee of Amazon and have no affiliation with the company at all. Well, apart from being a satisfied customer that is. It took me a while to become a member of the e-reader illuminati, but after my initial reservations of taking the plunge I can safely say that I am a complete Kindle convert. So much so that I’m here to urge every one to follow suit.
I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted here, as most people who click on to a blog about writing or reading, is going to be more than a little familiar with e-readers. I know there are other devices out there but my experience is strictly limited to the Kindle so that’s what I’ll be discussing here.
At first I was dead against becoming an e-reader-er. I felt like I’d be cheating on the paperbacks and whoring myself to the new generation of readers. The thing is, my morals just aren’t that strong.
So here’s my rundown on what makes the Kindle so great. I’m not just a total fanboy, though, I’ll also mention some of the cons that I’ve found by using them. So here goes.
There’s more choice. Before I purchased a Kindle, there were many books I’d read reviews of that were only available in ‘Kindle edition.’ I really felt like I was missing out on some great books just because I didn’t have the correct reading device. Almost every paperback sold today has a Kindle version (although don’t some authors hate them and not release their books on them? I’ll have to look that one up) and there are yet more out there that don’t even have the paperback flavour. So all in all, there’s a much wider selection of titles to get your teeth (or eyes) into.
You can start reading instantly. Gone are the days where you have to wait for your books to arrive in the post (I’m too stingy to pay for next-day delivery). With the Kindle store you just click ‘yes please, give me this shit’ and the book’s there; bloody there. Instantly! It’s amazing.
There’s no danger of it flipping open towards the end revealing a massive spoiler. Have you ever held a book and had a quick flick to see how many pages it has, or what the font size is? And have you ever just casually glanced at the words on the open page and read that “Jeff was actually a chick”? Suddenly you know the plot twist before you’ve even met the character. Is there any point reading it now?
It’s now easier to read on the sly at work. Trying to squeeze a quick page or two when the boss isn’t looking used to be hard work. If they came bursting in, you’d have to desperately search for the bookmark, insert it, then put the book down and far enough away from you to make it seem that you were actually reading that important work email. But the Kindle has a wonderful memory, so as long as you keep your finger just over the Power button, any sudden disruptions can be handled with the cool, smooth grace everyone already expects of you.
It’s almost impossible to lose your place. I wonder how many people are aware of, without a brief glance, exactly which page they’re on in a book at any given time. So if you dropped the book, or your finger slipped and it closed without the bookmark there to be your saviour, would you be able to find your current page easily? There’s no need to worry about this when you’re e-reading. Apart from the dropping part. Don’t drop your Kindle, it’s electric and breakable.
Books are cheaper. Kindle versions of books are cheaper than their paperback counterparts. Well, they always seem to be to me. I suppose you could find a used copy at a better price, but probably not. Now I know that I’m neglecting to take in to account the cost of the actual device here, but sshhh, this is the bit where I’m bigging the Kindle up. The cons will be arriving soon, I promise.
You’ll never crease the pages. I don’t suffer with OCD, my house isn’t pristine, I don’t wash my car as often as I should. But when it comes to books, I love to keep them as new-looking as possible. I hate scuffed covers and creased pages, and only open them just enough to be able to read the words printed near the spine. Ugh, speaking of spines, don’t you just hate it when they have all those ugly lines along them? And when I see someone folding the pages I feel a little part of myself whither and die. This is commonplace on a plane, where someone is reading a book they’ve obviously only just bought. But, continuing the theme of this post, this never happens with Kindles.
If you get yourself a cool case, every book you read has an awesome cover. This one, if a little odd, is pretty self explanatory. There are hundreds of different cases out there, many on, ahem, Amazon. My Kindle’s is a case in point. Take a look;
They are easier to hold. This is one of the main things that Kindle-ites often mention, especially useful if you’re diving in to a big read. A Song of Ice and Fire, It, Imajica, et al. You know what I’m saying, especially if you bought the hardback edition. It’s good to read, but you shouldn’t have to suffer an injury for your enjoyment.
Now I have to make this a balanced argument, so here are a few of the not-so-good reasons to become a Kindler.
It’s just not the same. Even though I’ve been raving above at how awesome Kindles are, there’s just something missing from the reading experience when you use them. When reading a paperback or hardback it’s that smell, that sound of the pages turning, that pride in keeping the thing all nice and shiny. You get none of that with a book made of wires and electricity.
The artwork isn’t as impressive and is only black and white. OK, this may depend on the model you own, but still. If you’re reading a book with a great cover, full of intricate details and vibrant colours, you’ll never get the same experience of enjoying that cover in the same way with a Kindle. It’s similar to the differences in owning a vinyl edition of an album compared to the cassette tape (woah, remember them??).
The battery may die at the vital moment, or worse still, the thing might break. The whole battery thing isn’t an issue for me as I tend to keep a close eye on how full it is and make sure to charge it regularly. But it’s still a worry. What if you don’t pay your electricity bill? What if Project Mayhem goes live and the power suppliers are hit? If you drop your sturdy paperback, the worst thing that could happen would be a creased page or two. Do that with a Kindle? It may become messy.
(I haven’t owned my Kindle long enough to comment on its durability, so perhaps I’ll soon be posting a rant on how stupid and rubbish they actually are!)
It’s a hindrance to flick back a few pages. Have you ever been reading a book and suddenly realise you can’t remember exactly what so-and-so said to what’s-her-name, or what exactly the protagonist had been up to an hour ago? It’s difficult with a Kindle to reacquaint yourself with something you may have missed without losing your place. Of course, with paper pages and a bookmark, this problem is eliminated.
You can’t have a quick glance at the blurb mid-story. When reading a paperback it can be a fun(?) thing to do while half-way through or so, to turn to the back cover and read the blurb. Is this just me? You know, re-reading what made you interested in the book in the first place, and seeing how it relates to your experience of the story now. No? Come on, I’m sure I’m not alone.
The cost. Aahh, it all comes down to money, yet again. Although the books are cheaper to buy, the whole expense of actually buying the bloody thing in the first place makes the whole thing quite the financial investment. But the more you read, the cheaper the whole experience becomes. So if you buy a Kindle, use the bastard!
Books are no longer page-turners. The popular phrase to describe a great book may die with the increasing popularity of e-readers. Amazing books will be come known as page-tappers. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?
And that’s my list. I know some purists will never agree and that’s great. Although, for being such a fan of Kindles I could find nearly as many cons as pros. But hey, that’s just the kind of well-balanced debate I strive to achieve. And isn’t a one-sided argument just boring as hell?
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