Monday, December 13, 2010

To kindle or not

Kindle: set on fire, light, inflame, inspire, stir up, make or become bright, glow with passion, burst into flame.

When my step-daughter stayed with us recently she proudly showed me her new toy – a Kindle. It is an electronic book reader which allows you to use a device to read digital copies of books, magazines etc. Instead of a printed page there is a digital screen and one can turn the pages by pressing a button. It is powered by a long lasting battery and one can store an incredible amount of reading material on it. Many of these are included in the price which is around £109 otherwise I believe you buy and install them.

MTL’s eyes lit up and I knew he was thinking of my Christmas present. I can see the advantage of the equivalent of a light notebook compared with a heavy tome; it took all my strength reading Diana Athill’s ’Life Class’ in bed recently and there wouldn’t be the palaver of the dropped book mark and the flopping pages.

And yet, and yet in, comparison the kindle looks so dull, grey and clinical. I love the feel and smell of a book and the different designs, covers, print and layout style are all part of the pleasure of reading a book.

Has anyone had experience of this? I’m not a total Luddite and if it is going to add to the ease and quality of life then I may allow MTL to give it to me as a present. But at that price I have to be sure it won’t be a ten minute wonder. Waddya think?


Keith said...

I seem to have jumped the gun on the last post. I didn't realise you were still writing.

Really though, you must get one, they are so good. I was in two minds whether to buy one or not, but now I'm glad I did.

Will your autobiography be available as an eBook? Free to friends? *cough*

The Unbearable Banishment said...

NOooooooo! Don't do it! Don't abandon books! What's better than holding a book and feeling the texture of the paper as you turn the page? Have you ever browsed in a second hand bookstore and found a treasure? You can kiss that singular pleasure goodbye. Please come to your senses before it's too late.

savannah said...

I LOVE UB's answer! as i said early, nothing will ever replace the feel of a book, these electronic readers are just an alternative. my analogy would be fountain pen v. ballpoint; they both perform the same function, just using a different technology. or as the MITM would say another tool for you to use or not. xoxoxo

kenju said...

I have always said I preferred books and I always will, but what could be better for trips and vacations and anytime you are away from home than this slim contraption?

I am changing my mind about them and I hope someone gives one to me for My friends who have them - love them.

R. Sherman said...

Sorry to Kindle and the like. I'm a real book guy, especially because I like to dog-pages for future reference and scribble notes in the margins.


Guyana-Gyal said...

I saw a Kindle for the first time on Saturday.

I think both Kindle and books can co-exist.

If I had a Kindle, I'd read it at night, in bed. I wouldn't have to get up to switch off the light [I don't have a bedside lamp].

Ponita in Real Life said...

Real books... that's my preference. I actually like being able to turn pages... and I have some really pretty book marks... you can't use those with a Kindle.

The Cloudcutter said...

Never. A book is a book is a book!!! I love the smell of a book, holding it in my hands, turning the pages, leaving a bookmark, sometimes falling asleep with my nose buried in it.

Btw, I notice you have The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I read the book on my holiday in Kerala and I loved it. Been meaning to ask if you've read it and was thinking of sending it to you if you hadn't. It instantly reminded me of you and I thought you would love it :-)

Pat said...

UB: I promise you I will never abandon books.

Keith: If I got one it would be an addition - not an alternative. You're so headstrong Keith!

Savannah; I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Judy; that's what I'm thinking although trips are thin on the ground there is still the problem in bed. Weightwise I mean.

Pat said...

Randall; dog page! Scribble? You are so bad.

GG: I didn't know it was illuminated. Are you sure?

Ponita: yes I have a penchant for book marks. One favourite made by a granddaughter at nursery school.

CC: how strange! The GLPP was recommende to me by Nea(side bar) as are lots of the books I read. It's my next treat after I have finished 'Rachel's Holiday'
I'll let you know how I find it:)

Z said...

I don't think that Kindles and other electronic devices will stop us reading real books. There isn't a room in my house that doesn't have bookcases. I never expected to read books electronically, but I do read a lot on my iPhone and it's so convenient - any time I've got a few spare minutes, I just pull it out. I'd not keep a book in my handbag for every eventuality. It'd be brilliant for when I'm away, I have to take at least a book for every day I'm on holiday and it does add to the weight and bulk. I'm reading more than I have for several years, and I can always find something to fit my mood. You can keep as many books as you like on the go, and it keeps your page for you. I'd go for it if I were you.

Disadvantages -Out of copyright books are free, otherwise I think that new books are overpriced, considering that there are no costs of printing, distribution etc.
The Kindle isn't backlit, so it's not possible to read it in very poor light, but you can get a holder with a built-in light, I understand, which would enable you to read at night without turning the light on.
The only difficulty with my phone (I've got used to the small size) is when I want to flick back a few pages to check on something - I have a sense of how far to go with a book, which I don't without real pages.

Is it the action of reading or the stories/information? - I've got friends with iPod Touches who listen to audiobooks. I think you can download books onto them too, but the pages are small of course.

I've never scribbled a note in a margin of a book in my life - I was brought up to believe that books mustn't be desecrated in that way! Though I have been known to dog-ear paperbacks!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Like you...I LOVE the feel and look and EVRYTHING about an actual book! I realize the Kindle and other devices like it are the wave of the future---BUT, I'm still hanging on to the 3-D way of reading, for now.
Also, visually, I'm not sure it is something I would find 'easy-on-the-eyes' at tgis point in my life.
You asked...(lol)

Mary Witzl said...

I see you've already had some good feedback here, but for what it's worth, I'll put in my own two cents.

Kindles aren't a passing fancy, they're definitely the start of a new wave. Many of my students would not have read actual books, but would definitely read anything on a screen. If books are heavy for you, or if you have to carry a lot, Kindles are GREAT.

But having said that, I love the whole visceral experience of old fashioned books. I just can't help it -- I love the feel of the paper and the smell of books, the way they look stacked up on shelves, the sound the pages make as they flutter. I may get a Kindle some day, but I'll never give up on traditional books.

Pat said...

Z: thank you for the useful info. Food for thought. I would never imagine you would treat book with anything but respect:)

Naomi: one advantage is that you - I believe - can enlarge the font.
For me to buy it just as a convenient extra seems a bit extravagant just now. I couldn't do without my flesh and blood books.

Mary : there you have it: the whole dilemma. And even to have it as an extra I want to really handle it first. I read somewhere you can have them on trial

Dandelion said...

Would not an ipad be a better thing to have?

lom said...

I couldn't be doing with a kindle, I love the feel, smell and turning the pages of a book, I like to watch my book marker work its way through the pages, no I could never use a kindle.

Pat said...

Dandelion: you see this is part of the problem. I haven't a clue what an ipad is. I know my granddaughter has an iphone. I must do some research.

LOM: no dilemma for you then dear:) I can visualise occasions when I could be glad of it but there's no rush.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Well, if a Kindle is not lit, I wouldn't need it then :-)

I buy things as I need them. Old-fashioned, I know.

Pat said...

GG: good! At least one of us knows what she's about;)

rashbre said...

i tried one of the ancient Sony eReaders, but paid the early adopter penalties of incompatible downloads, slow access and needing to charge it via USB.

Nowadays I mix the technologies. I've been reading Scarlett Thomas on analogue and Iain Banks on Digital.

Actually I'm using the Kindle reader on the iPad nowadays for the eBooks. Very fast.

Z said...

Pat, here's a post from someone who's got one, worth reading the comments too -
I think that it's like Facebook and suchlike, someone who doesn't intend to try one has all sorts of reasons why not, and they're valid. But if you do, you have your own reasons to love it. I know that, for balance, you need to have someone who has bought one and doesn't use it much, and be told why not!

I hankered after an iPhone and it took a great need for self-pampering for me to buy one and pay the monthly charge. I now pay every month what I used to use in a year on my old mobile. It is worth every penny. I'd have to be seriously short of money (like, not enough to eat) to give it up.

An iPad is 4 times the cost of a Kindle, it can do more but research it before you buy, why get it if you just want it for reading books? If I buy a device I will get an iPad ... make that when, but I've not geared myself up to it yet. But the people who say no to a Kindle haven't tried it, the people who say yes have, and that has to mean something.

Bear in mind, that your TL has to think of another present PDQ if you decide against!


Pat said...

Rashbre : one thing is clear: I am not an early adopter so will at least miss penalties. A Sony ereader may be ancient but it's new to me. I must get my ipads, ebooks and kindles sorted.

Z: I will follow the link and read it. Re iPhone I wonder what it is that really attracts you? I like my ancient Nokia - pay as I use which is almost never and tho' I marvelled at Alice's I didn't feel any longings.
I have made a decision: the present will be a handbag and anything else will go on hold until I can get my doddery head round it- and I'm really grateful for all the help:)

Z said...

There is no comparison between an ordinary phone and an iphone (or Android or whatever, I'm not plugging Apple particularly). I hardly go near the computer during the day now, as I receive emails on it. I play games (can't do Scrabble on Facebook I'm afraid, as it doesn't have Flash), read books, listen to music. Sometimes, I even make phone calls. It's much easier to use than a conventional mobile phone, and it has a qwerty keyboard, so no abbreviated texting (not that I ever did). Google maps is brilliant, no need ever to get lost again, or wonder how far to your destination. I can check the news, the weather forecast, I've given up my paper diary and use the calendar, which is backed up every day on my computer. It's embarrassing, how much I rely on it. I've even stopped wearing a watch. The difference between it and an ordinary phone is, it's so easy to use, so I do. All the fiddling around to set a timer, I didn't bother on my old phone, but now I do, so no forgotten charred relics in the Aga any more.

Pat said...

Z: oh that's it then! Scrabble on Facebook is my new passion. I'm serious - I have to teat myself away at night to go to bed.
Notwithstanding it certainly sounds a great aid to have - especially someone as dynamic as you. I'm pleased for you:)

RSA Now said...

I've tried using a Kindle but it's just not the same as a real, physical book

Pat said...

RSA Now: it couldn't possibly be. And where's the excitement of opening a new or newish book from Amazon?

sablonneuse said...

Having never seen a kindle I'm in no position to give an opinion but it's been very interesting reading what others have said.