KIndle Vs Printed Books

5 Jan

The ruminations of a booklover!

My parents fondly remember a time when I was bright and inquisitive and observant of the world around me! That was before I read my very first book – one of the Noddy series by Enid Blyton at the age of five – and got lost in the world of books.

Visitors to the house sniffed in disapproval at the spoilt girl who couldn’t raise her head from the book she was reading, longer than necessary to say a brief hello. Friends at school knew better than to ask me to play, they knew all my free time was reserved for the library, and learned to identify me if they saw me there, by the unique way I sat in a chair, holding the book in front of me – because my face was obscured by the book!

So immersed was I in the world of books, that whenever I had to emerge into the real world when absolutely necessary, I was always disoriented. I desperately needed a narrator telling me what was happening, I couldn’t seem to figure things out for myself.

And the more I see of the world, the more I escape back into books. Along the way, books have become my most faithful, trusted and dependable companions. If I were asked to recollect my happiest memory, it would be of reading a book. In times of trials and tribulation in the real world, I always imagine the comfort I would soon have when I get home and can take up a book. I know better than to look for in a human, what I always reach for in a book – comfort, an enveloping cocoon of serenity and warmth, interesting and stimulating conversation – yes, I actually have conversations with my books, far more intelligent and stimulating ones than I usually have with people.

And so it’s safe to say ninety percent of my life overall has been made up of books. I was ‘brought up’ by books – I think I got far more parenting from Enid Blyton than from my own parents. She was the one who influenced my behavior in childhood and early adolescence – which also has a direct bearing on what kind of a personality I have as an adult today. Most of what I imbibed on ‘Good Manners,’ I learnt from her.

I was educated by books as well. I am a journalist now, not because I went to University – which I didn’t – but because I read so extensively that I picked up the art of writing as well – and because extensive reading in addition to the art of writing is what you essentially need to be in this profession.
And so while my parents spend oodles of money on accountancy classes and computer classes and what not for me, it was those books I sneakily read while I was supposed to be studying that finally got me a career.

*Ahem*

Those last five hundred words were to give you an indication on just how much I love books. Got enough of an idea now? I am very, very, very serious about my books. They are my equivalent of the tattered and torn childhood teddybear! That means my books might not be in very good condition – they might be dog eared and creased and so well thumbed that a few pages are loose and even missing in quite a few, but I love my books. Even though I have the heartbreak of boxing up and disposing of quite a few of them every few years because my bedroom has only so much space and my family is not disposed to look kindly on old cupboards filled with books. Mice, cockroaches and lizards favour these cupboards but their good taste is not shared by the rest of my family.

So I box them up every once in a while and cart them off to a second hand booksellers – of course I come back with my arms full from those sellers with another load of tattered and torn ‘treasures’ but that’s another story.

And into this idyllic world of the book lover which I didn’t think could be improved upon came the Amazon Kindle. Suddenly, about a year ago, all I could hear from my friends was Kindle, Kindle, Kindle! Everyone and his brother had a kindle and was waxing lyrical about it. Not being a gadget freak, I resisted at first.
Books – the touch of books, the feel of books, the smell of books – no hard, cold machine was going to replace that for me! But then I heard more and more about the offers – free kindle editions, library services, cheaper than paperback rates… and I wondered, should I give it a try?

Then I came across 4shared, mediafire and a host of other websites that allowed free downloadable books – books that would’ve cost me a fortune to buy – absolutely free on the internet! Ohmigod! A cash strapped book lover’s paradise! I started downloading them onto my laptop to read but all that continuous reading seated uncomfortably, soon brought a cricked neck and twisted, painful back in its wake! OK, that convinced me, I needed a kindle!
Thankfully, it had become quite affordable by this time so I got my new toy – the next best thing to the PC and the internet, if my friends were to be believed. Well yes and no, I can now download books I might not have had access to otherwise – and it’s free of charge (always a bonus). But the slim cold feel of the kindle just can’t compare to the feel of a real ‘live’ book.

I have had my kindle for a couple of months now but still haven’t become completely used to it. I miss having to flip the pages. I miss the yellowed look of a page as opposed to the white of the kindle screen. I find it rather ‘unnatural.’ Plus there is a bit of a hassle finding a specific page. Kindle doesn’t have page numbers. It always opens at where you left off and the initial menu bar lets you go to the beginning or the end but to get to a specific page because you want to recheck something is a bit of a hassle for me. Apparently it’s pretty easy, using the search option but being the tchno hilly billy that I am, I still haven’t figured it out yet. And I am annoyed at having to figure it out because I remember how ‘easy’ it was, just flipping through a book until I got to the page I wanted.

No doubt these are just resistance issues. In another generation, kids would marvel at the fact that we had to do so much work as flipping pages and having book marks but in the meantime, I find myself a member of the old guard grumbling about the good old days.

And this, though never having actually bought a book for Kindle. I don’t have a credit card yet anyway. Most of the books I looked up on Amazon are actually more expensive on the Kindle version or don’t have a kindle version at all (these being older books where the paperbacks are already available and so a kindle edition if at all available had to be specially made and is thus more expensive).

So I don’t regret buying the kindle, I have managed to get and read a lot of books – out of print or too expensive for me to buy, for free. But in the meantime, if I actually have to buy a book, you can bet it’s going to a paperback and not a kindle edition. When it comes to the reading experience, a book still beats the kindle in my opinion.

I can’t help wondering though! Is this an inevitable change? Will printed books really disappear over the next generation? Or despite all the hoopla and naysayers, will the printed book – like the newspaper – continue to survive?

Will the next generation of book lovers know the pleasure of hunting through second hand book shops to come upon a long out of print treasure? Or discovering books they had never heard of, but picked up quite by chance and discovered them to be a treasure?

Or will their reading be limited to only authors they know and hear of and are looking for specifically? Of course you can find books by ‘accident’ on Amazon too but still…
For better or for worse, the reading experience is on the cusp of a new beginning thanks to Kindle and the world wide web. It’s like surfing a giant new wave but being the decidedly unadventurous sort, I am suffering from a slight queasiness.

Yes the kindle is a great new device and an asset to any serious reader – but I hope it doesn’t put books out of print any time soon, at least not within my lifetime!

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3 Responses to “KIndle Vs Printed Books”

  1. thameera January 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I was more or less the same book lover years back but gave up reading printed ones altogether and opted for reading in my mobile phone. It’s so convenient coz you can read anywhere: in the bus, in the queue, while waiting for the transport, at the bed without lights and so on. A Kindle doesn’t give _that_ convenience, right?

    Anyway having a Kindle is one of my dreams, and should make that happen in a few months.

  2. John January 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Most new kindle books allow you to navigate by page . And the reading experience will only get better and better. True, its not the same. You won’t find old kindle books from your parents lying around the house. It will all be organized in your account. I like the fact that the device is connected to the internet. Sharing with friends, finding new authors and books, reading for disabled people, all of that becomes easier.

  3. Chavie January 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Excellent article. 😀 I don’t read much, but when I do, it’s either on a computer screen or a reference book in the library. 😉

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