Does the Kindle Spell the End For Books In Print?

 

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I can touch my favourite books with eyes closed, and recognize them. I know the texture of their covers. The size and feel of them. I look at hundreds of books scattered around my house, and I have no need for ornamental decorations.

But, when I decided to volunteer in Ecuador for three months, I packed all of my books, put them in storage, and travelled instead with a kindle and a few hundred books.

E-books certainly have got the convenience factor on their side, but I don’t believe that E-books mean the death of paper books, and I certainly don’t believe that they totally replace paper books. They each have their own place, and each option will be suitable to people with different needs:

Aesthetics Vs. Minimalism

Building a library is a pleasure. When I dream about my future house, I rarely dream about the house itself, usually it’s just the perfect room for all of my books, and a room for more. It doesn’t matter that I love travelling. I still want somewhere permanent for my books, somewhere where I can sit, and enjoy them. It’s the pleasure of senses – of seeing the physical books, of touching the paper, of smelling that distinct smell.

Minimalism may give you uncluttered space, but it does not inspire the feelings that physical books can.

Note taking & Flipping the pages Vs. Searching for Highlights

I take notes. Sometimes, it’s just because I want to. Something I read makes an impression and I scribble in the book. At other times, I need to take notes for essays I’m writing or projects I am working on. Either way, note taking is a big part of my reading experience.

On Kindle, you can highlight passages, and you can type notes too. That’s great. But when it comes to actually using those notes, it’s not that useful.

Generally, I just prefer to flip the pages, back and forth, looking at my notes, re-reading some passages. There is no specific plan. I just review the book, and things fall into place.

You can’t flip pages on Kindle. You can review your notes and highlights, or you can go page by page, but there is just no flipping the pages, and so the actual experience of “reviewing” is non-existent, which I believe would be a big issue for most academics, writers, and just about everyone who wants to retain specific information from their reading, and be able to go back to it.

Pleasure of an ageing volume Vs. Re-reading without damage

I’m a bit over-protective when it comes to my book. I am a careful reader, so by the time I finish reading a book for the first time, it looks almost brand new. I always use bookmarks too. But my favourite books show signs of age. I re-read them, and so the spine starts breaking, the pages sometimes get marks, and there are just general signs of wear and tear. But I love it. Because that’s what differentiates my favourite books from all the other books. That’s what also makes them uniquely mine. It’s not just a copy of “Persuasion.” It’s my copy of “Persuasion.” It makes them personal.

There is no personal on Kindle. Yes, all of your books will still be as black and white as you bought them, but they are just files. Stories are same, and I enjoy those stories, but it’s like looking only at the soul without the body. We are regular people. We need the bodies too. That’s what makes us seem different, attractive to some and not-so-appealing to others. Physical books are books with bodies, and some of us find them very attractive.

 

How about you? Does the Kindle change your reading experience or not? Share your views in the comments section.

 

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8 Responses to “Does the Kindle Spell the End For Books In Print?”

  1. Sarah June 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm # Reply

    This is a very interesting post, I think there really is a place for both Kindles / eBooks and also real “dead tree” books, they both have their strengths and weaknesses, yet it seems that most people have extreme views one way or the other e.g. they either hate Kindles and prefer proper books whilst others think that the eBook will change the world and there is no place for traditional books any more.

    Some of the definite advantages of a Kindle are made in your post;
    They are great if you are travelling, in hospital etc., means you don’t have heave around large quantities of reading material. It is simply great to push a button and buy a book when you are lying in bed without having to drive to the book store (where they may not have it in stock anyway). Also Kindle gives you an option of reading a small sample to see if you like it before making a purchase – whereas if you hung around a real book store reading for that amount of time you would probably get kicked out!

    Kindle books are (usually) cheaper than real books and of course you can get many books totally free or on a daily deal offer for a very cheap price. Reading electronically must must be better for the environment too than printing, transporting books round warehouses shops etc.

    An e reader is often easier to hold particularly if you are lying in bed.
    Kindles are great for those with visual problems as you can change the font size or for those with dexterity problems as pushing a button is easier than turning pages. Some devices play like an audio book.

    Although I personally don’t get the “real books are tactile, great to feel etc.” argument – I like holding my kindle too, there are still many other disadvantages to an e reader, as follows;

    Not all books are available electronically.
    It is hard to highlight, flick through a kindle etc. and I personally find it impossible to revise / study from such a device without taking notes.
    Text books, books with maps etc. are quite hard to read / follow on a Kindle
    You need electricity / battery for them to work / charge.
    You wouldn’t risk leaving a Kindle on a sun lounger whilst you went for a swim in case it got stolen yet you would probably happily risk leaving an old paperback!
    Some books are still quite costly and not a lot cheaper than the physical book even though they are downloaded electronically.
    There is always the risk that they may get stolen / smashed, water in them etc. and they are costly to replace.
    Browsing round a real book shop is fun if you have time to spare.

    What do others think?

    • Dolly Garland June 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm # Reply

      Sarah,

      Thank you for your thorough, well thought out comment. It’s completely logical. But I think when it comes to “feel of the books” that’s just personality difference between people who love books for their own sake, rather than just for the information they contain. Neither is wrong. It’s who we are. I value the information, but I also like them for their own sake – difficult to explain, because it’s not logical at all.

  2. Michael June 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm # Reply

    First, to answer the question in the title, I think no. Just like ballpoint pens didn’t eliminate fountain pens, e-book readers won’t spell the end of books in print. I just got a Nook and I’ve noticed I’m reading more, a lot more. So I’d say it has changed my reading experience. It’s different than holding a print book and reading it, but with regard to books, I have always wanted the content more than the feel of holding a print book. I know that is not true for other people, but just for me it is.

    • Michael June 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm # Reply

      Another thought I had was that books which I read analytically (see http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/06/17/how-to-read-a-book/ for what I mean by reading analytically), such as Wealth of Nations or Democracy in America, will likely be read using the print edition because I’d want to make notes in the book and flip around a lot as I read it. My e-reader is good for books I just read cover to cover, like my sci-fi and fantasy books, but for the meaty books that I use to stretch my intellect, I think a print copy will be the edition I use.

      • Dolly Garland June 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm # Reply

        That’s exactly my problem. Though I definitely do prefer paper books, I have no issues reading on Kindle. I appreciate its flexibility very much when I’m travelling. But when it comes to analytical reading, things I want to take notes for, and go back and forth, it just does not do the job.

    • Dolly Garland June 19, 2013 at 9:53 pm # Reply

      Michael,

      That’s a perfectly legitimate argument, and I agree with it completely. New technology doesn’t necessarily eliminate old things, though it may reduce the quantity of usage.

      Interesting comment you made – which is what I just replied to Sarah in the above comment before I read yours. The difference between people who read for content alone, and those who read for content but also admire books as objects – a physical art, one could say.

  3. Nathan September 30, 2013 at 5:17 pm # Reply

    Hello Dolly,

    I for one don’t think that books in print will disappear with the Kindle around. I agree that the convenience factor of the Kindle is up there along with other nice features but it has its own pros and cons as you have put out in great detail here. One thing I like about the Kindle is the ability to take notes and highlight favorite passages and access these at Amazon’s site. It can be quite bothersome though to find them online. An iOS app will be released this November 2013, Snippefy (www.snippefy.com), that will make it easier for Kindle users to read and share their notes and highlights and export them as well to Evernote, Dropbox and email.

    I just wanted to share this with you and I hope you will find it helpful.

    Thank you

    Nathan

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