The Kindle Quandary
I’m not at all sure that I love my Kindle, or the whole concept of e-books. Yes, it is likely to save trees, and that’s super, but, as a reader, as a writer, as a published author*...I LOVE books. I love the feel of the pages, the covers, hard or soft, the graphic presentation. I love placing a bookmark between the pages and seeing where I am, how far along, how far to go. I love being able to flip back to a certain part, or sneak-peek ahead.
[*My book, The Rebel Housewife Rules: To Heck With Domestic Bliss -- a fabulous holiday gift idea for the ladies, by the way! -- just came out on Kindle, so I may be evolving "as a published author."]
It was my fellow Midtown Book Group members who finally convinced me I should check out a Kindle, maybe. They all started showing up with e-readers at our book group meetings, touting how wonderful it was, in terms of portability and convenience. Being Midtowners and urban city-dwellers, a majority of our book group members reside in condos, where physical space is at a premium. The #1 factor motivating my friends in the move to Kindle was space-saving: "I can fit a thousand books on this thing, instead of trying to make more room on my shelves!"
Space: A Compelling Argument, Indeed
While I don’t like having to get rid of books I don’t want to keep, I do relish putting a much-loved book up on the shelf, finding space, jamming it in, knowing it will be there for me when I want to read it again. I also value the ability to share a treasure, once found, and lend a good book to a friend. It can be challenging to lend (or borrow) an e-book, especially if my lendee doesn’t have a compatible e-reader.
Two Things I Do Like About Kindle:
1) Reading in bed, without disturbing my Prince Charming; and
2) Instant access...
I have been known, when catching up on series fiction especially (i.e. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, etc. -- erm, obviously, with my kids!) to be so desperate at the end of one book to get my hands on the next, I will dash out to the bookstore to satisfy that horrible sense of withdrawal. With the Kindle, of course, as soon as I finish one book, I have instant access to thousands of possibilities for the next great read, with a click and a credit card, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, holidays included. That is pretty wonderful.
However, the caveat of instant access is this: I am cheap and I like buying books at a discount, even if it’s just the usual 40% off on Amazon.com. Granted, the Kindle prices and the paperback prices on Amazon are usually fairly close -- and the Kindle prices, compared to the $25 - $30 cost of new hardcover books, are definitely a better deal. And it is instant.
After years of ignoring and avoiding the e-readers, I received a fancy Kindle Fire for Christmas last year. (An e-reader is an excellent holiday or birthday gift for a bibliophile.) I tried it. I hated it. The Kindle Fire was too much for me -- too much money to be hauling around in my bag; too heavy to hold up and read at night; too redundant with all the Internet capabilities of my iPhone; too many distractions; too fancy. I traded it in for a Kindle Basic with a lighted cover – barebones e-reading, and I liked it -- better, anyway.
I thought I might start buying my book group books on Kindle to read at night, and try and get used to the digital highlighting and notes capabilities. So far, I have read two book group books on Kindle: Shantaram (the book was 900+ pages) and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; but then I had to go buy the paperback of Henrietta Lacks for the pictures and review work that I ended up doing on that book. My daughter wanted to read it, too. (We are on the fence about getting a 15-year-old a Kindle, but I would in a minute if it meant she could access her textbooks and not have to carry 5+lb books back and forth to school in her overloaded backpack.)
I do think an e-reader is the perfect gift for a voracious reader. With my birthday coming up (October 27th, in case you were wondering), I might even be willing to consider an upgrade, with the lighter, faster, less-expensive Kindle Family available now. Still, I have to admit to an ongoing love-hate relationship with the Kindle, on a book-by-book basis.
What do you think? Do you have a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader? Do you love it? Hate it? Still working on it?