Kindle Surprise: or why I’m finally embracing the electronic age

books, kindle

Anyone who knows me well enough will have heard me ranting about eReaders for years. I’m infamous at work for my stubbornness about Kindles and my desire to stick with the physical book form. So it shocked a few people when I made the decision to buy on this week. When it comes to reading, I still prefer owning and holding a book in my hands. I think books are a beautiful thing and having full bookshelves is better than wallpaper in terms of decoration. However, over the last 27 years of my life I’ve amassed a rather large selection of books, which, sooner or later, I’m going to have to pack up. If I have to move soon then it’s going to be hell transporting my library. It was time to find an alternative option.

As I’ve said, I’ll always be a lover of real books. There’s so many reasons why they’re better than a kindle. Over the years I’ve honed my ranting to a few key arguments.

  1. If you damage a book it’s really not the end of the world; in most cases it actually adds character to you bookshelves. You break a kindle and you’re paying out big time. Not worth the danger. 
  2. Reading in the bath (see above argument).
  3. The feel of reading a book is so different to reading a Kindle. You feel more involved when you hold a paperback in your hands and turn the page yourself. If feels more personal and involved. It may sounds crazy but its the fucking truth.
  4. Reading before bed is a bad idea on a Kindle. We all know the one about turning off our electronics an hour before bed and we all know that reading before bed is calming. There is a major conflict with these rules when it comes to Kindles. I have enough trouble sleeping at night without having this new problem.
  5. Books are pretty: eBooks are shitty. 
  6. Reading on a screen will always get annoying after a certain amount of time. Eye strain caused by gadgets may be a third world problem but that doesn’t make it any less real. 
  7. A physical book is a memento of your past. Some of my favourite books are the ones I’ve read over and over again. The copies I love most are the well-thumbed versions that I reread every few months/years. The books I’ve been given as gifts. They mean something. What memories does an eBook stir up?
  8. The financial reward to the author tends to be greater when it comes to physical books and that fucking matters. Authors need to make money to be able to write and only the big names can rely on a meaningful income. Less well-known readers need people to buy physical books rather than eBooks. 
  9. A study from 2014 showed that Kindle readers recalled less information about a novel than those who read physical books. You want to remember a book? Then you’d better read a real one. 
So there we have nine whole reasons why I never thought I’d buy a Kindle. However, space is a real issue in life. I love having books everywhere. My room is covered in piles of books where I’ve had bookshelf over-spill. Having a room full to bursting with literature is a fucking beautiful sight. Of course, the issue comes about when you have to move elsewhere. I, like every other late-twenties failure, still live with my parents. They keep threatening to downsize their house, which means sooner or later I have to man up and box up my belongings. The idea of getting my novels into boxes actually fills me with dread. 
My problem is impulse buying. As a general rule I will definitely buy every book by my favourite authors and I will, though I’m trying not to, buy multiple copies of my favourite books. I’m also pretty easily manipulated by things I read on the internet. This means I tend to impulse buy a load of shitty books that I either read and hate or leave to get dusty. It is this category that I feel like the Kindle will really help with. 
If I ever get the urge to read the next big YA book thanks the reviews I’ve read/heard then I can happily just buy a digital copy. I don’t need to find space for it or feel guilty when I read it once and give it to charity. I can buy every shitty book I want to read without feeling bad about the ever-increasing pile of books that threatens to engulf me whilst I sleep. They’ll just take up by memory. 
I’ll still buy the beautiful hardback and paperback editions of books that mean something to me. My favourite authors will always have a place on my shelf. It’s the likes of Rainbow Rowell and trashy crime novels that my Kindle was made for. All those books that BuzzFeed, Flavorwire and Huffington Post always convince me to get. I’ll save my shelves for the books that mean something. 

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