As an avid reader who travels by trains a lot the purchase of a kindle was obviously a no-brainer (especially thanks to a generous donation by my Gran!) The idea of being able to have thousands of books all on something the size of an average paperback is to me pretty amazing.
I should say at this point that I am not a gadget person. I don’t get excited by new phones, or flashy IPads, and my perfectly functional computer is about 10 years old. Gadgets to me are similar to assembling flat pack furniture, something I leave to my sister. However the kindle is a different matter. It doesn’t flash, sing or dance, it looks like a book, acts like a book, in fact it is just a book but better.
Now don’t get me wrong, they are not perfect. For a start it is way too easy to buy books on them. All you have to do is click a few buttons and you have the whole of Amazon at your fingertips – for someone like me who has a real fear of running out of things to read this is dangerous. (I wander if there is a term for that, nobookaphobia maybe?)
I still love real books, and personally despite predictions I don’t think the printed word will ever be completely taken over by kindle. At home I would still rather read a real book. I love browsing in bookshops, and can easily spend hours wandering round Waterstones. There is something satisfying about seeing a row of books lined up waiting to be picked that will never be replaced by a simple list in a kindle. At home I have shelves of books in my house and am always slightly disappointed that when I read a book on a kindle it won’t get added to those shelves.
You can’t share Kindle books with others either. I enjoy swopping books with friends, if I’ve really enjoyed a book I like to be able to pass it on to someone else and say read this. Telling someone that you’ve just read a great book on a kindle is not the same. I think people are less likely to read a book if they have to write down the title, look it up on amazon and then buy it themselves. Many a time I’ve been given books by someone that I would never in a million years have actually bought myself, no matter how good someone told me it was. The Twilight books are a good example, I was given the first one by a friend so I read and really enjoyed it. I didn’t think I would though so if she hadn’t put that physical copy in my hand I would probably have never actually read it.
Another thing that is a shame with a kindle is that you have no idea what other people are reading. On a train or in a bar I think its interesting to see what people are reading and I think there is no better advertising than having your book read by a load of people sat on a train. Of course the fact that no one knows what you are reading can be a good thing sometimes. As an event organiser I spend a large amount of my time out of the office, so with a kindle in my hand I could be reading important work related documents. Then again…