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Four Reasons Books Beat Kindles

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Kindle 2We’re now two posts into an epic email Victoria wrote me about the Kindle and to the point where she shares some thoughts only a Kindle enthusiast, someone who has used on extensively, can share… the reasons why she sometimes still longs for a bound book. The first part of this series was fourteen reasons I should buy a Kindle and seven ideas she had to improve the Kindle.

Things they will never be able to recreate in a Kindle:

The sensuality of reading a book.

The “new book” smell when you open a new edition. The “old book” smell when you realize how many people must have already journeyed with this same book.The sense of excitement that a new adventure awaits as you hurry home from the bookstore with your new treasure. The touch of the paper as you turn the pages. The smell of a finely bound leather edition. The heft of it’s weight. The careful separation of the pages still bound by the gold gilding.The ink stains you get from having spent the day with your favorite newspaper or paperback. The stains that remain on a favorite recipe that got tomato sauce on it. The colorful art of the dust jackets and slipcovers that protect your treasures. The pleasure of just looking at your library and knowing they are waiting; waiting for you to pull a long forgotten experience down to relive it.

The thin, the thick, the treasured, the sets, the matching volumns, the small Beatrix Potter books, the oversize coffee table books of panoramic photographs of Thomas Mangelsen and the Audubon prints. The silk ribboned bookmarks that you brush with a match to make sure they don’t fray.The hand me downs from family past, whose torn bindings speak their own stories. The notes, the letters you find in old books, long forgotten.

The physical, spatial relationship of a bound book.

An analog clock tell you the time in relationship to the whole. It is half past four… It is 15 minutes until… more often than not it also signals it’s passing
audibly, with a tick..a tock..a digital clock that tells you the time gives you a number only. It’s 10:48. Much is the same with a bound book in relation to a digital one. When reading a bound book, your bookmark tells you what you have read so far and how much of the journey is left to go. How many of us have
dreaded coming to the end of a wonderful book and have slowed the finishing of it until another could be readied? Read a page and couldn’t wait to get to the facing page you see out of the corner of your eye; that lies beneath your hand? When you get to the end of a good book, you want more..you don’t want to leave..you re-read the inserts, about the author, other books by the author, the photographs of the author, you look at the book cover before you finally put it in it’s new place among the good company on your bookshelf.

Not so with a digital book.

You turn on your Kindle and click. The page where you were when you left is there. “You are here”, no more, no less. Dots at the bottom attempt to unsuccessfully locate you within the book. No page numbers, location numbers, something about the format the software uses to change a book into a a Kindle edition… 136-3657… what does that mean? I suppose you could go to the beginning and the end, divide the pages in the book (having gotten the page numbers online) and develop a sense of where you are, but do you even want to try? I have come to the end of some books not knowing the end had happened. I click the “next page” button. It doesn’t work… I click the “main” button.. I have a choice to go to the cover or start over….oh, my goodness, I believe it’s over, imagine that! I didn’t realize….

It’s electronic.

The fact that the Kindle is electronic and once the plane is moving, you have to turn it off so that won’t bring the plane down while you read it. You make a “Note to Self” that although it’s usually a fairly short period of time before take-off (or landing), a paperback should be included just in case your plane winds up being 55th for take-off and you’re on the tarmac an hour waiting to take off.

Kindles don’t burn.

The concept of why we are “horrified” at the sight of book burning in “Fahrenheit 451″ or were so distraught as we read of the great libraries in history that were burnt to the ground through ignorance, fate or war, the knowledge that was lost. A child wonders why we just didn’t download another copy.

I think that’s it in a nutshell. All in all, the Kindle has it’s place with any bibliophile and in the coming education of all children. Will it ever replace
the printed word? It’s not quite dead yet. The harbingers of films’ demise through television hardly foresaw satellites and the need for 24/7 programming of hundreds and future thousands of “channels”. I understand that there are still many lovely collections of “scratchy vinyl” jazz collections of music that will never be digitized along with books in the Vatican that, even now, are waiting their turns to be carefully restored enough to transfer to a new medium.. There is not enough time or resources to “save” them all. The new media is being created too fast and in too great a quantity to go that far back. Even the creation of a newer medium will keep us “transferring” and “backing up” what we create today for all time. there is no “permanent” medium.

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21 Responses to “Four Reasons Books Beat Kindles”

  1. Matt SF says:

    The investment potential of a 1st Edition book!

  2. Madame X says:

    Great series. I’ve been using a Sony E-reader lately and many of the same points apply, though it lacks some of the Kindle’s features. I love reading and owning books in both formats– they each have their pros and cons and I’ll happily use both for the forseeable future.

    • Jim says:

      I was afraid it would be a little too salesy, but Victoria spent so much time trying to convince me to buy it for my wife that I had to post it in case others were considering it. :)

  3. Dana says:

    “Kindles don’t burn”, that’s a great image. And also, what are we gonna do with those empty walls now that the book shelves no longer have any books!?

  4. Matt SF says:

    Oh no, Jim is going to short Barnes & Noble’s stock tomorrow morning!

  5. nickel says:

    5. You can get them free at the library. :)

  6. TStrump says:

    I tend to agree.
    Not sure if I can ‘picture’ myself reading a book from a computer.

  7. Eric says:

    Wow this IS epic lol. Does sound a bit salesy to me overall but it’s spreading the word I guess.

  8. James says:

    I’m with nickel, I’ll take my (free) library card over a $359 gadget.

  9. I “read” from a computer all day at work. Books are a nice escape back into my Luddite past. I don’t think I’m ready to switch yet.

  10. Rob says:

    I guess this is sort of along the lines of the library comments, but how about the fact that you can’t share e-books with friends and family?

    Over the years I have loaned out and borrowed dozens of books. Sharing an e-book can be difficult or, more often, impossible.

  11. Greg says:

    You can read all the specs of B.O.O.K.-the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge Device here:

    http://www.fun-with-english.co.uk/2006/11/new-technology-book.html

  12. Brendan says:

    You get things pretty wrong at about the second sentence. The smell of a library book that has been handled by so many is nothing like the smell of one of your own books. I’ll be rereading an old favorite and I’ll just stick my nose in there and breathe. It’s pretty awesome a smell. A book from the library on the other hand, its smell is down right disgusting. It’s “off” in so many ways.

  13. Donna Freedman says:

    The pleasure of picking up a well-loved book and beginning to read ANYWHERE — to me, it doesn’t matter where I open up “The Grapes of Wrath,” “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “Main Street” or other books that I’ve been reading and re-reading since I was a kid. Whatever page reveals itself to me is where I start to read again. What a treat.

  14. Debbie says:

    Your articles gave me reasons to consider ever buying a kindle, gave more clarity to the reasons I consider reading a physical book superior to an electric one, and gave me new insight into the possibilities of both publishing methods for the future. One thing I would add to the benefits of a physical book is being able to share it tangibly with another reader when you’re done.

    Victoria, I really like your writing style and content. I hope to see more of your writing in the future…your own blog? a kindle book? or a printed book?

  15. M says:

    Can you really not use your Kindle on the plane? The lady next to me on my last flight sure was, and that’s what got me interested in the beginning. Wouldn’t you be allowed to use it after you pass 10,000 ft (when you can turn on laptops, etc)? Is there a way to turn off the internet capabilities (which I assume are not allowed on the plane0?

  16. literatewench says:

    Can you share e-books? I can loan out my paper books and still read my other books. Can you loan Kindle books?

  17. mb11697 says:

    Two reasons have kept me from buying an ebook. 1) i\It’s another gadget that is going to be obsolete one day in the future, like an iPod, and it will contribute to the electronics filling up our landfills.

    2) I can get a used book from the library for less than $1 and resell, lend or donate when done. In this case the convenience of owning a book doesn’t add up as fast as it would with an ebook.


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