Books vs Kindles

Had an interesting chat, yesterday, about kindles vs books. My friend, who has spent years teaching reading, said she wondered whether our brains were wired to cope with only reading something off a screen. She did concede she might be influenced by her bias towards the traditional book, and her struggle to fully take in all the information presented on a computer or phone screen. Perhaps the younger generation, with their i-phones, i-pads and i-pods permanently attached to their eyes, ears and hands, may not have the same struggle.

I think there’s something about the delicious tactile sensation of opening a book that just can’t be duplicated by a machine, no matter how technologically advanced it is. I love the way a brand new book creaks as you open it up for the first time. I love the feel of the pages between my fingers, the smell of the paper, the crispness of the print, the weight of the thing sitting in both my hands like a literary Big Mac.

I don’t enjoy the flick, flick – “work you dagnabbing thing” – of the teeny phone screen. My finger and or thumb is too fat and I keep hitting the wrong thing. I guess the larger i-pad is more user friendly but it’s still a thing of perspex and plastic and therefore no soul. (Yes I’m a grumpy old lady who is seriously biased! Deal with it.)

I can see how it’s a useful thing to have almost your entire library in something you can fit in your handbag. It’s definitely more portable. But it’s not often that I need to take my entire library with me. I like my big book-cases filled with books of different sizes and colours. They start off lined up like little paper soldiers but as more and more join them (and before the ten-year great cull), they end up lined up, stacked up, shoved in and higgledy-piggledy. “Dive in,” they say, “you might discover something so absorbing, so exciting, so intriguing, so mind-blowing, it’ll change your life forever.” On the other hand the i-machines say (in a voice reminiscent of a dalek), “I am efficient. I am clever. You will be like everyone else. You will never look up in a train, bus, airport, restaurant or shopping mall ever again. You will never converse with a stranger about your reading material. You will never talk with your friends or family; you will text them instead.” I shiver.

From the little I’ve read about the phenomenon, it seems that the biggest book sales on kindle are books that have already been published in print. That strikes me as a little ironic. I remember when movie videos first became popular. (Yes, I really am that old!) The catch-cry was that it’d be the end of movie theatres. Yet, just this week I and many others were happily sitting in a movie house, eating our choc-top icecreams and laughing as we watched a movie – together. Perhaps books and kindles/e-books will also learn to co-exist. What do you think? It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

9 Comments

  1. Ugg outlet Store
    Sep 16, 2011

    Wonderful content as well as good debate among the many reviews.

  2. ebookstore
    Sep 7, 2011

    Thanks for the great post, thanks for the web love! It’s always great to read enthusiasm in any form. Keep writing!

    • Wendy Noble
      Sep 8, 2011

      Thank you. I appreciate that e-books save trees, but on the down-side technology has a carbon footprint too. I can see that for now e-books/kindles are definitely on the rise. It’ll be interesting to see what the scene is like in ten or so years.

  3. Lauri
    Aug 31, 2011

    I don’t have a Kindle yet but they say people who switch to ebooks 1) stop buying paper books and 2) buy more books than before. There must be something good about Kindles.

    • Wendy Noble
      Aug 31, 2011

      I’d say the biggest factor is our society’s love affair with all things technological. Then there’s the bonus that books can be bought much, much cheaper. (Does this mean that instead of a writer getting $2 for every book sold, they’ll now get 20 cents?) Also there’s the accessibility, as Ken has already said. I can see how it works well with adult fiction, and some non-fiction books. At this point in time many children’s and young adult books are still more suited to print. They’re doing some amazingly creative stuff in those age brackets. But, eventually the technology will catch up to that. I can see that publishing houses will have to face some major changes in the near future. Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a new era in literature, similar to when the printing press first made an impact. (Deep, hey?)

  4. Ken Rolph
    Aug 30, 2011

    And furthermore . . .

    I thought about the tactile business last night when I was reading the third Jeeves and Wooster book. I realised that I was rubbing my fingers along the side of the Kindle. It’s light. It’s cool. It has a smooth metallic feel with a very light grain. It reminded me of smooth slatey stones I used to play with on Wombarra beach when I was very small.

    It’s just a different kind of tactile experience. The more you use the device the more familiar it becomes. It extends the book, not replaces it. We just switch between the Kindle and paper books. It has become a normal part of our experience very quickly. The beauty of the Kindle is in its severe gradients of dark and light. Not quite whites and not quite blacks. There is no colour, so I imagine young people will find it hard to appreciate.

    What will make ebook readers win is the accessibility. On two occasions in the past week I’ve been reading a blog or the newspaper and got interested in a book under review. While I was still reading about it I had the Kindle close at hand and was able to get a copy of the books at very cheap prices while I was still actually reading the review. Of course, everything is not yet available as an ebook, so it doesn’t hog the whole process as yet. Perhaps it never will.

    • Wendy Noble
      Aug 31, 2011

      You raise some interesting points, Ken. I expect that it won’t be long before colour is also part of the programme. Then they’ll add movement and … oh wait, that’s a movie. 🙂

      • Ken Rolph
        Aug 31, 2011

        Not a movie. That’s an iPad. Already here. I went for the Kindle first because I like plain books. But I’ll have to get an iPad because Australian publishers have largely ignored the Kindle and gone the Apple way.

  5. Ken Rolph
    Aug 28, 2011

    There is definitely a difference between reading on a page and on a screen. It has something to do with the backlighting and flicker. Reading on a screen becomes tiring after a short while. I have realised that my Kindle is not a screen, it’s a page. There’s no flicker to tire me out. There’s no colour and movement, no email interruptions. The Kindle is just a book.

    There will be limitations with ebooks, which will becomce clear s we get more experience with them. They are not going to replace physical books, which will become more colourful, inventive and beautiful.

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