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Four Reasons Books Beat Kindles

We’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 [3] and seven ideas she had to improve the Kindle [4].

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.