I was reading an article by Lucy Mangan in Stylist yesterday about e-readers and, well, her general distain for them. Now, I shall not reply the article in detail, but she makes a couple of points which made my ponder over my own relationship with my Kindle:
- e-readers do not allow you to connect with a book in the way you do with a physical copy, recalling happy memories at a mere glance;
- A physical book will not break or run out of battery in the middle of use.
If I am honest, these are both valid points and things I have mused over myself. Taking the second point first (just to be a bit ‘zany’), my Kindle has broken. When it broke, I was in the middle of a book. At the time, my response was ‘Argh’, followed by some moments of rage and general grumpiness. But, that said, I reported the problem to Amazon, they gave me lots of support and, when it was clear the problem was not to be fixed, they sent me a new one within 3 working days. In the interim, I went back to a standard book and also caught-up on my rowing magazine. Ultimately, I survived the ordeal! Charging doesn’t even warrant it’s own paragraph – the power consumption on a proper e-reader is so low that when you get a low battery warning, you still have a good few hours of reading before it dies.
So, the more crucial issue she raised, that you do not get attached to e-books. I whole-heartedly disagree with this. I do admit, I miss seeing the cover of a book, but having an e-reader has stopped me from picking my books based on the picture on the front which, lets face it, we have all done. Now I read the synopsis and the user reviews. I build an entire catalogues of books ready for my literary consumption. I take chances on new authors. Then, when I read, I get engrossed if the story is worthy of it. This is no different to when I read the print versions. No, I cannot look across my bookshelves and recall the happy memories, but I can flick through my Kindle and get the same thing from the titles. When I am reading a book, my Kindle becomes that book; when I recently read ‘The Hunger Games’ (see my review on Revado), I looked at my Kindle and all I could think was that I wanted to read the next bit – the emotion was exactly the same as my pre-Kindle days.
So, in summary, I’m afraid Lucy, I disagree with you. Of course everyone is entitled to their views (although I do think one should try something before completely writing it off) but I am a fan of an e-reader. There are numerous disadvantages (like the fact my library is now tied to Amazon), but the advantages are just too great and after one-too-many train journeys where I have finished my book before reaching Finsbury Park and then sat there bored, I am converted. It also makes the books that do deserve a physical presence on my shelf that bit more special!