Last year in October, I was given a Kindle 3 by my aunt in return for doing what turned out to be a LOT of yard work. Well, a lot more than I expected anyway. It’d been quite a few years since I’d lived anywhere that required yard work, so I wasn’t able to judge it properly.
Since then, I’ve used my Kindle fairly regularly. Whenever I commute here in the city, I keep it with me so I can spend my time doing something constructive, instead of staring blankly at the wall like so many of my fellow commuters. I’ve come to rely on it for entertainment, something I was reminded of today when I realized I left the house with a dead battery. My commute is about an hour both ways, so … ya, I was bored. There’s no cell phone signal in the subways here, so that meant I really had nothing to do but stare at the walls.
The Kindle 3 is light, very easy on the eyes, and makes reading fun again, especially since there’s so much available for free, but some recent events have caused me to see a few shortcomings.
The first problem is that there are still plenty of books being published that don’t have Kindle versions. Even worse, some books are published and the price of the Kindle version is higher than the price of the physical book. I understand that there are some costs that can’t be negated by simply producing a book as an e-text, but there should never be a time when an eBook costs anything near what the physical book does, since you’re cutting out the cost of the paper, printing and distribution. It’s obscene. An insult even.
The kicker that made me write this post, though, was a visit to Barnes & Noble at Union Square. I’ve been going there frequently looking for particular versions of books I need for classes I’m taking at CCNY. I don’t know what it is about physical books, but every time I go in there I find myself wanting to hold and touch them, and maybe just ‘adopt’ them all and bring them home. The cover art is something that can’t be reproduced well on a Kindle, or any eReader. You can’t touch it. You just can’t appreciate it the same way. I’m reminded of something my art history teacher said in class yesterday. He was talking about how people go to an art museum and instead of stopping to appreciate the art, they take a picture and move on quickly. He said that if that’s what you’re going to do, you might as well have just looked the images up on Google. It’s not the same experience. It’s also not the same experience as holding the book in your hands, or putting it on your shelf when you’re done with it. I suppose that desire to collect books is something that not everyone has, but I like to see my books sitting on a shelf, so I can be reminded of how good they are and maybe pick them up and leaf through them to my favorite parts again. Speaking of that, it’s really hard to scan through books on a Kindle, going back to re-examine material you read the a few days ago.
My conclusion is that a Kindle is still an awesome device that will encourage more people to read more often, myself included, but it has drawbacks. I think my Kindle is best suited for ‘light’ reading. You know, those books that you read purely for entertainment, the ones that you’re not worried about looking at again, because when you’re done with a Kindle book it gets lost in the list of available books on the device. For those books that I consider my favorites, or anything heavier that might require thought and retrospection, the books that I would want to flip back and forth through to better understand the ideas being expressed, a physical book can’t be beat.
7 thoughts on “Why I Love My Kindle, And Why I Don’t”
I have really bonded with my Kindle. I've had it for about a year now and titles are becoming much more available here In the UK. I hate coming to the end of a book by a favourite author so I quickly go to the Kindle store and grab the next available title. You can't do that with a paperback at 12.30 pm! It's definitely only good for 'paperback' reading. Diagrams and graphics are sometimes unreadable as you can't enlarge them. And flipping back to check out a clue in a murder mystery can take ages. I know you can bookmark a page but you don't always know you need to at the time. I've just bought my son the new Kindle for his 2 month trek across America and I'm looking forward to sharing a few books with him. We are into the Swedish detective Wallender series.
I like your tactful use of the word “sampled”. It's true though. The eInk is the reason I went with the Kindle.
the thing i love about the kindle or any e-ink e-reader technology is the fact that i no longer have to carry a collection of 20lb text books in my bag, and that the refresh rate is infinity. Normal CRT or LCD screens are usually 60-70 hertz… that refresh rate will strain anyones eyes over long period of time… hence why I dislike reading eBooks on my laptop. Kindle is a must if you have a large volume of eBooks you've bought on amazon or sampled on a torrent site and it definitely does encourage more people to read often.
Ya. There's been a lot of talk about lightening loads with Kindles, regarding textbooks I mean. I'm not sure how many textbooks are on Kindle. I know there are some on Nook. It's worth looking into. The Nook uses a backlight though, so it's similar to a laptop screen.
id love to have a kindle but i also get what you mean about holding an actual book and flipping the pages and going back to read it when you feel like it. i also dont know if this makes me weird but i like smelling paperbacks. i have this fascination especially on old books. i have a book here thats from 1950's a rare compliation of the early reader's digest articles and i cant imagine reading it from a computer or kindle, it would just make it less special. but yeah a kindle sounds great if i intend to finish medical school and you know how huge our books are, Id love to bring just one kindle and just find all my books in it.
It would also be great if you were a frequent traveler.I know a guy that got the larger version, 9″ screen I think, to read manga on and he says he loves it.
great read, I've been iffy about getting kindle because I like the feeling of crawling into bed with a book, a real, physical, book. I “confiscated” a kindle for a few days and just didn't use it after the novelty wore off.I dont really have a long commute of any sort regularly as I live 5-15 minutes from everywhere in Kingston, maybe if i did it'd be useful.