The Problem With Kindles

I love books.  I’d read anything, and I’ve read everything, though not necessarily in a very careful way. I just love books and stories.  I don’t care if your story is high literature or a seedy detective novel.  I’ll read it, and I’ll lie awake until I’ve finished it.  When my shoulder hurts, I’ll turn over to the other shoulder to finish reading it.  If your book is good enough, I won’t sleep.

The last time that happened was when I read a local writer’s book, City of Bohane, by Kevin Barry, but with any luck there will be many more to come.

Enter the Kindle.  What to make of this gadget?

Kindles won’t go away and I don’t want them to.  I’d like a Kindle myself if I could afford one, which I can’t, so please don’t take this as some sort of Luddite assault on the newer forms of delivery, as a media-savvy young lad might say.  I don’t know what the media-savvy young lads actually say, since I’m no longer young and no  longer interested in regurgitating media-friendly buzz-phrases, but still.   Let’s assume the real movers and shakers would utter such nonsense.  For the sake of discussion, so to speak.

One way or another, it’s irrelevant, since mediapromoting unformed youths are, by definition, brash, vainglorious fools, and therefore worthy of being ignored.  Get back in your bedroom, boy!  Finish yo prayers!

This ramble has little to do with the uneducated promo-kids and everything to do with those who actually read books.  and who love the feel of them.   The smell of them.  The heft of them.

You might accuse me of hypocrisy, as one who inhabits the e-sphere, but I also inhabit the real-sphere, and never tire of tying the two together, because by this symbiosis shall we survive.

Though I often recoiled from that old lyric, There is Nothing Like A Dame,  I think there is nothing like a book.  Throughout my childhood and beyond, I could never go to bed without something to read, and even though I’m now incredibly old, the habit has persisted.

Something tangible is always better than something electronic.  This Christmas, I want to be handed a real, genuine, corporeal book.  I want to be given a thing I can hold in my hand and lie there in bed reading, if it grabs me.  I want to lie awake all night waiting to find out what happen, but I want to turn the pages myself, not by swiping a screen.

And I want it to smell of paper and ink.

Is that too much to ask?


22 thoughts on “The Problem With Kindles

  1. And what happens when you’re all engrossed and intrigued and the thing runs out of juice?

    There’d be nothing grabbin’ ya then.. ha ha.

  2. I agree! I hope it is something that takes at least a week to read – but it sounds like you speed-read and maybe you can only hope for a couple of days :) I just finished King’s latest, in Real Book Format, and at 740 pages it qualifies as hefty, and it’s a good story. A little politics tossed in for good measure. My only complaint is the hard backs here aren’t hard backed. It’s terrible trying to read a 740 page softcover book, really awkward.

  3. But it’s worth the pain. The last book like that I read was Fisk’s Great War for Civilisation. Up all night reading.

  4. My Happy Days in Hell by Faludy Georg is a great read. I think it’s out of print for more than a few decades but you might be able to pick a second hand copy up on amazon.

  5. One can only imagine how much happier childhood would be without having to haul massive school bags around. Books will never die, but for students and others who read for business and not pleasure the Kindle and its derivatives are a wonderful innovation.

  6. I’ve been looking at that technology and I’ve been impressed with what my research has thus far thrown up. I see the advantage immediately for school goers who currently are required to make shit of their backs from the weight of all those school books they must carry every day.
    Too, the screens on the Kindle device are designed to not damage eyesight. I like that.
    My only gripe with this new thing is that in Ireland the great techie functions available to U.S. Kindle users are not available here because Sony won a case in the European courts which they took because their e-reader is not anywhere as nifty or user-friendly as is the U.S Kindle.
    I hate that greed-motivated envy shit; big time.

  7. I write as one who, given the choice of bringing my furniture or my several thousand books, when I immigrated to Canada, chose the latter. But I love my e-Reader for three reasons. 1. I can take hundreds of books with me when I travel. 2. I was going broke from buying books. They’re half the price, (or free if I download the classics), through the Kindle, Kobo and iBook apps. 3. I can subscribe to magazines, which I also love, and not have tons of glossy paper to haul to the kerb after they’re done.

  8. I also love books, and I think I currently have more books than house to live in. One very good and important thing with the Kindle, especially as middle age sets in and the old eyesight is getting bad (from reading too many books), you can actually adjust the font size as you like on the Kindle! I think it is good value for money and the battery life is excellent.

  9. Maybe I’m just a Luddite. When I was a child, the old people used magnifying glasses to read their books. There was something charming about that.

  10. I got one for when travelling. I get tired of schlepping half a suitcase of paperbacks on holidays, let alone a paperback getting beaten up while commuting to work. Now I can fit all my possible reading in something the size of calculator. The e-ink is very good to read with it, though pictures tend to be a challenge.

    The Kindle in my opinion fills the niche of the paperback book, which I believe the French refer to as “pocket books”. As such, it may well be the death of the bookstore, though Amazon’s price competition was killing them off already. That fills me with no joy. I don’t know what the business model of the modern small book store is. I want my local book store to survive. How do they stay in business? They’re doing everything right as far as I can tell: Web presence, book signings, reading groups. But what’s the business model when Amazon is winning?

    I don’t like the fact that Amazon can take a book off my machine if they want, that could easily be used for censorship. I don’t like the fact that Amazon not only knows what I’m reading, but if I allow them they can see what parts I’ve read and where I’ve made notes. I don’t like that Amazon uses an e-book format different from everybody else’s, yet another Walled Garden business model. Scrolling through books is not as easy with a physical book, though there is a search function.

    Books will not go away. But physical books may become the province of well-to-do collectors. I can’ t see how second-hand bookstores, especially with used paperbacks, survive. I say that having found some old paperbacks with Frazetta covers recently. Santy may bring me the latest Frazetta coffee table book, but those old PB covers really bring back memories of the 70s. A vanishing age.

  11. I find that with readers like the Kindle, a certain loss of the personal, intimate experience to be had with a physical book is lost. A coffee stain on a Kindle means it’s dead; on paper it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.
    That being said, it’s pretty awesome technology and is here to stay, although it does sadden me that (and this is by no means a generalisation, as evidenced by the previous posts) that most of the people I know who have them never bought real books…

  12. I’m wavering Bock. I’m an avowed lover of tangible, tactile books. I love the heft and the gradual surrender of the spine as I make my way through a thick tome; I love the smell and the dog-earing and the scribbles in the margins.

    My compromise has been to migrate to Kindle (I use the app on my iPhone and on my Mac) – but only for non-fiction books. This is a matter of practicality for me, as I constantly find myself scrabbling back through a half-remembered book, searching for a juicy turn of phrase, a quote, or a reference. Using Kindle, all that is a doddle.

    For my fiction reading, I am sticking with dead trees for as long as there are dead trees around to enjoy.

  13. There are so many qualities that Kindle and other e-book things cannot do or provide. My copy of the Annals of the Four Masters is from the 19th century (I think….). It has 19th century smell, feel, paper, fonts, etc. Same thing, but more recent, my copy of Principia Mathematica, including scribbles and annotations.
    And then we have all signed books, with dedications…. I think real books will survive. The fact that they don’t require batteries, that the encoding isn’t device and manufacturer dependant and the pure physicality makes real books something very special.

  14. Horses for courses, as long as there is a choice all is well.
    Best book I’ve read recently was Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes, set in the vietnam war, authored by a decorated marine officer. As someone not normally drawn to war books, this was a great read, you could do a lot worse Bock.

    Happy xmas all.

  15. I actually see a limitation to eBook readers when studying, especially when it comes to cross referencing. I often have three or four books open together when writing an assignment. I have an eReader (a Sony) but I don’t use it very often to be honest. In fact I recently went off and bought a paper copy of a book I had recently downloaded. I’m most certainly not a Luddite but eReaders just don’t do it for me.

  16. Very interesting reading people’s views here – Other advantages of the Kindle/e-reader ( maybe relevant for the future Bock….) Self publishing/small volume, niche books become so easy…. You and your significant other can both read the same books ( should you be so inclined) if the account owner is signed into both devices…
    Downside: Too many vested interests between the different publishing houses/dynasties…

  17. Probably nothing to do with the argument at hand but can i recommend a book called ‘afgantsy’ about the russian occupation of afghanistan

  18. Got one for Christmas and so far I love that during a long drive, evening into night, I was able to read away on my little Kindle without disturbing the driver or the other passengers. Time flew.
    Still have shelfloads of the real thing but I like the handiness of the Kindle too.

  19. Get one Bock try it and then come back to us…wonderful invention in my opinion and one that should be given to every 4 year old long before they ever get an nowadays relate to the digital world if you want them to read again then you need to present literature to them in a format that they approve of. ‘Communication should always be in the language of the receiver’ as Edward De Bono once said.

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