comments 8

Kindle or Kindling?

As long as I can remember I’ve liked books. I don’t just mean that I like to read – I do like to read – but I mean I like books. What marvellous objects they are, physical containers for whole worlds. I like the physicality, the paper, the binding, the smell of the ink, the printing.

When I was growing up, we watched this curious clay figure on television. Gumby. He and his pony pal Pokey could go into any book. What a delightful idea.

As much as I spend time in front of a computer, I can’t imagine reading a book on-line. I read the other day though, that Amazon has reported great success selling on-line books this year. They also sell a reader, called a Kindle. Apparently, people happily pay 250 bones for a device on which they can read online books. It’s small and light-weight and very portable and doesn’t suffer glare problems. Some people also pay for newspaper subscriptions which appear daily on their kindle.  These are subscriptions in many cases to newspapers they can read for free on their lap-tops.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this would start to catch on. Our society is fascinated with devices and gizmos and the internet has changed so much behaviour in a few short years. Years ago, many people spent loads of money on stereo systems that would enable them to hear music with the best possible sound quality. Now people seem to be satisfied with compressed files pumping downloaded music into their brains through ear-buds. Go figure. With digital music so popular, a focus on digital books – and a new model for selling books – is not unexpected.

More and more of our experiences are being replicated using devices and monitors. There are even computer games in which a player can pretend to play a musical instrument or pretend to play tennis or golf.  There are people who play so much pretend music that if they invested the same time learning a real instrument, they could learn to really play.

I expect there will be a day in which people will walk into my library, look at all the books and think, wow this guy is such a relic from the past. I’ve heard he even plays the accordion. I guess I can live with that. For now, I’m happy reading books in the normal way, and I’ll miss them when their gone.

8 Comments

  1. The student argument is the only good one I’ve heard for eBooks. Those poor kids are beasts of burden when they’re in school.

    I can see the advantage for software manuals as well. I hate having those publications with best-before-dates lying around the house

  2. zeusiswatching

    I’ve read a few books online, but I just can’t make the adjustment. God bless the folks who can do this, but I just have to have treeware. I carry my books to the cafe to read nearly every day. I take them with me when I travel and usually return with even more in my bags.

    When I put my reading lists up on my blog I sometimes link to e-editions of the books I’ve read and I notice that people do click on the links and some cheerfully read the works online, but almost always the edition I read was a real book that I held in my hands, that might have been marked heavily with my fountain pen (I don’t do this for vintage books, but mass paper backs and text books are fair game). The smell of the pages, the bagel and coffee nearby all mingled together are a part of the reading experience.

    Amazon has my loyalty, but it will not likely get my money for a kindle any time soon. I like analog reading too much.

  3. sp

    I love the traditional book too. I understand the move towards the Kindle etc, but there’s nothing like the feel of the paper between my fingers when I turn a page or the smoothness of a new cover that has been carefully designed & illustrated. I even like the smell of books…
    Sounds like I have a book fetish doesn’t it?
    Maybe I do. I’m okay with that. I love books.

  4. I am sooo with you on this!
    BUT, I bought a Sony Reader…for my son. When this appeared on his Christmas list, I tried to talk him out of it. His arguments quickly won me over: Project Guttenberg is a treasure trove of FREE e-books, the Reader can hold 500-700 books (plus the included dictionary) at a time, textbooks can be purchased in e-book formats (a lot less weight to carry and cheaper), the Reader has a built in highlighter, and the battery will run for weeks between charges.

    Z’s Sony Reader has become his constant companion and we’re thrilled that he is reading more. He’s even gotten into the classics he got from Project Guttenberg.

    As for me…I’ll stick with the tactile pleasure of books…unless Z tempts me with one of the titles on his Reader. 😉

  5. I highly doubt books are gonna die or fade away. Isn’t someone always prediciting the death of art or some such? Heh heh.

    I read a few classic novels online every year. I read them online because I don’t usually want to buy a classic novel. I try not to own too many possessions…including books. I absolutely love books and love my collection…but I do try to keep it low. I try to buy books that I will read again or that offer research. Sometimes, am so excited about writer or a new book I will buy it to own. Like the greatest novel “2666” I bought as soon as it came out on hardcover my anticipation was so massive. (I’ve read it twice so I feel ok about owning it)

    I love reading devices…but so far…NOT the kindle. You can’t read the Kindle in the dark!

    I can’t imagine buying such a prodcut that I couldn’t read in bed or on a bus trip.

    I may get a reading device one day…Sony has one that is illuminated…and it’s lovely.

    The main advantage I see is being able to read in bed without fudging around with a light source…and for travel. You could have several books with you in one lightweight object.

    Mostly…I get books from the library. I would weed out our entire apartment…but Stagg loves collecting things. Right now…we are weeding things out. I like to live thin without a lot of stuff around or clutter…Stagg is the complete opposite. Very interesting negotiations we have.

    If I buy a book…and it’s not say a research or something…like a mystery novel…I will give it away or resell it to the second hand stores. Recycle it in some way…

  6. I love books too. Walking into my favourite local (independent) bookstore makes me practically orgasmic. Sorry for the visual but such is the power of paper and ink over me. Because of my job, I spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer and then at home I spend another hour or more checking emails, blogs, etc. Why on earth would I want to spend even more time staring at a screen??? Some folks love their little readers, I’m sure, but for me, if I can’t feel the paper between my fingers, its not worth it.

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