First an apology for so shamelessly reusing this picture from an earlier post; but how could I not? Anyway, isn’t it good to recycle?
Paperback Vs E-Reader
I love to read, I really do. But the simple truth is that for most of the last twenty years I have probably only read around three to four books a year. This is probably going to look like a poor excuse but I am going to use it anyway. I am very busy. I have three children a wife and various pets, and they all want a piece of me. To say nothing of the joys of being self employed and the way that working for yourself can lead to working far more hours than if you were employed. And then of course there is the house, and all those unfinished jobs…
OK, so you get the picture. I, like many guys I know, simply don’t make enough time to discover the joy of the written word. My wife on the other hand is a voracious reader, devouring books as if they were going out of fashion. She probably reads around a book a week, and has done so since I have known her, and yet I am sure she manages to works harder than me.
About a year ago I got my first Kindle and it changed my reading habits quite radically. I began by revisiting the free classics Frankenstein and Dracula, then made a couple of purchases and before I knew it, I had read around half a dozen books. Modest I know, but land-breaking for someone with such a small literary appetite as me.
I read at night in bed, to unwind. But this became disturbing to my wife, as the clip-on book light created an unwelcome distraction, and my wife has difficulty in getting to sleep. So I upgraded. I am now the proud owner of a Kindle Paperwhite. I don’t yet understand all the functions, and to tell you the truth, I usually learn just enough to make it work for me. After all, time spent learning could be time spent reading, right?
My wife is a traditionalist, spurning the march of technology and preferring the texture of the page and the smell of the ink. Not for her the digital revolution – how can you choose a book without the colourful cover? She asks, voice reeking of superiority. She likes to feel the satisfying growth of the wedge of pages on the left, and the corresponding reduction of those on the right. A real book is a complete sensory experience she argues – and I have to agree.
Yes, the book is nice, but so is a classic car. It looks beautiful, but step inside and take it for a spin and you remember just how uncomfortable it was. I never seem to have the time to indulge myself in the joys of the bookshop, so now I browse the store from my home, and try each book before I buy them, with sample chapters all available for free. Don’t like the font style? No problem you can change it. Text too small? We can fix that too. You can even vary the level of light coming from the Paperwhite.
So now I lay in bed, bathed in the eerie glow from my kindle, a smug expression on my face. Smug because I can see my wife, unable to sleep, grappling with her paperback. The unwieldy book light I have discarded bobbing up and down, it’s pitiful battery about to expire, as she tries to bend its flexible neck to angle the feeble light onto her page. She glances at me, and I know she sees the sense, but she can’t let go. Not yet. Maybe next Christmas.
So there it is, my loyalties are revealed. As much as I love a good book, the simple truth is that my Kindle has got me reading more than at any time since I was at school, and for that alone it deserves to win. Of course I feel sorry for the print industry, but I hope one day to publish my own work on Kindle, and I should get better royalties that way too. I hope that books survive, I really do, but I am voting with my head – for the E-Reader.