Posted by: Jeanie F | December 7, 2009

Kindle…Book…Kindle…Book…

So much debate about which is better – an e-reader or a book. I don’t get it – isn’t it about the content and the pleasure/information/enlightenment that lies within, not the format in which it’s delivered?

I am an avid reader – I love books. I also love my Kindle. There is plenty of room for both, and both deliver the same amount of reading pleasure even if in somewhat different ways.

I started with a Kindle 1 and would have happily stayed with that except that my dog, Nelson, ate it. My husband has accused me of smearing it with peanut butter so I could justify buying a Kindle 2, but the truth is I don’t really notice that much difference between the two.

I probably don’t need to go into much detail about why I love books – if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know – so I’ll start by explaining why I love my Kindle. First, it’s ideal for travel. Not only is it lightweight, which spares me paying the extra luggage charge when I have to take five or six books on vacation with me (because I never know what I’ll feel like reading, and I need to be prepared for all contingencies), but it’s quick and easy to download a new book should you find yourself in an airport with an unscheduled eleven-hour delay as I once did. It was great NOT to be limited to the sad selection of even the good airport bookstore in Atlanta.

I also like the fact that I can adjust the font size. I spend a great deal of my work day reading, and as I’ve aged I’ve found it harder to read at night because of eyestrain. I can make the font on my Kindle far larger than the font in the average paperback book.  Also, again because of the light weight, it’s easy to hold and turn pages, even when eating, lying on your side in bed, or squished in the middle seat of an airplane.

And, of course, the price per book on a Kindle – typically $9.99 or close to it – means I can buy a lot more reading material for a lot less money. I’ve had my Kindle 2 – which cost me $359, I believe – for just about a year and it has already paid for itself.

Having said that, I doubt that I will ever stop buying books in addition to those I purchase on my Kindle. For one thing, although Kindle has added a feature that tells you what percentage of the book you’ve read, I like to be able to see exactly how far into a book I am. I also like to flip back to reread passages, which is more complicated on a Kindle. I don’t enjoy reading short story collections on my Kindle because it’s impossible to know how far into the story you are, or how close to the end. The feature that tells you what percentage of the book you’ve read still gives you the information for the entire book, not an individual story. It’s also possible to highlight passages but somewhat inconvenient to go back to reread them on the Kindle.

Those, however, are minor inconveniences. The reason I’ll never give up books is that Kindle – for all it’s really great attributes – can’t match the experience of walking into a wonderful bookstore on a rainy afternoon and browsing around to find the perfect book, just what you’ve been looking for but never heard of, even in the “Recommended for You” queue on Amazon.com. You’ve gotta be there for that!


Responses

  1. Being travel friendly is definitely an advantage with the Kindle. I don’t have one right now but I’m starting to think I might want one at some point.

    How do you decide which books to download and which to buy the old fashioned way?

    • I have to admit that many of my Kindle purchases are impulse buys. Typically something I’ve read about in the New York Times, tends to be more current fiction.

      Books that I buy are usually those I’ve found in a bookstore and been drawn to. Generally more literary and, I have to admit, have great covers. Also, if it’s a book I expect to want to keep, I definitely buy the book itself.

      • I have a feeling if I got one I would always decide that whenever I wanted a book I would need to get a physical copy and the Kindle would stay empty and sad! 🙂

      • Jayme, you might be surprised. I wondered the same thing when I first got my Kindle – purchasing it was a leap of faith based on Oprah’s enthusiastic review and Amazon.com’s $50 off coupon. But it turned out that I really love reading on it (especially a big book like Wolf Hall, which can be cumbersome to read in bed).

  2. I agree completely with your thoughts on e-books. Though i dont have one yet (I’m holding out for the Nook!), I dont get the uproar over them. Book lovers will always love and buy books; now we just have another, often more practical, outlet for them. Glad to hear you like the Kindle, maybe I wont wait for the Nook!

    • Lianne, whichever you get, check back and let me know how you like it. From what I can tell, the two (Kindle and Nook) are pretty similar.

  3. I’ve had my Kindle 2 for almost six months, and I love it for many of the same reasons you love yours. I like finding out that so many other people bring too many books on trips :-).

    I just found your blog via Weekly Geeks, and noticed that you’re a fellow Southern California book blogger – hello! A couple of us are trying to put together a blog to help SoCal book bloggers connect with each other – if that sounds interesting to you, you can find out more here.

  4. Hi, I found your blog through my friend Lianne’s.

    Unfortunately, e-books are something I’m very defensive about, which is strange because I’ve set to see a Kindle in action though I’ve seen other e-book readers. I don’t like reading off a computer screen and I think having that many books always at my fingertips would be overwhelming. I’m a very monogamous reader. Though I’ve tried doing differently I can really only read one book at a time. Also I’m naturally suspicious about new technology. I took one look at the Kindle and immediately saw the destruction of all bookstores and libraries. Overdramatic perhaps but the idea still scared me.

    As a writer hoping to get published, the idea of losing the physical aspects of a book breaks my heart so I’m so happy to hear you love both books and your Kindle. It does sound like they make travel easier (I too get in trouble when it comes to transporting books).

    • Erin, I completely understand your concerns about e-books. I hope that books never become obsolete – it would be great to have both forms peacefully coexist!

      I also dislike reading from a computer screen. To me, my Kindle is nothing like a computer, mainly because it isn’t backlit. It’s very easy on the eyes because of the light gray background. But I can’t understand people reading off their iPods or iPhones which seem like impossibly small screens.

      From the writing standpoint, I actually think e-books may be a good thing since they are cheaper to publish and could, potentially, reach a larger audience. There are so many problems in the publishing world now that it’s almost impossible for a new author to break in. I hope that a wider venue may improve that situation. I’m seeing a lot of new authors break in by self-publishing e-books, which is easy to do on Kindle (I don’t know about Nook or the Sony reader).

      And I absolutely share your concern about bookstores and libraries. I’ve noticed that bookstores have taken to offering non-book items (calendars, notepaper, etc), probably to attract a larger audience. I also think that both bookstores and libraries that are reaching out to authors and others in the publishing world to give book talks will continue to provide a service that is valued and will bring in customers. Maybe emphasizing the idea of a reading community will help.

      I don’t know the answer to how the book/e-reader issue will eventually play out, but as long as there are people like all the book bloggers around, I think we just have to do our best to support our libraries and bookstores.

      Thanks for your comments, Erin!

  5. That was the other thing I was worried about, that it would be like reading on a tiny computer screen. My eyes get strained from staring at my monitor all day at work and coming home to an even smaller screen didn’t sound appealing. Sounds like it’s totally different though?

    With everything going digital these days it’s easy to think of a future without book stores and printed books, which is horrilby sad and scary. But hopefully that doesn’t happen (I know us book bloggers probably keep the majority of book stores in business!) and I guess we should be glad that people are reading at all (damn you Tivo! Not that I’m any better, I do love my movies and TV shows).

  6. I totally agree with you. And i’m loving it for travel also because sounds like your a mood reader like me.

    Here was my review. http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com/2009/12/kindle-international-review-my.html

    I just got the kindle for christmas though.

    • I definitely like to have options to suit my reading mood, so Kindle is perfect for me. I know you’re going to love yours, too!


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