Why I Want to Hate the Kindle (But Secretly Want One)

As an English Literature student, I can’t help but feel that it is my duty to protect the sacredness of books in their physical form and to consequently disown all eBooks and everything they stand for. But in seminars and coffee shops alike, as I look around at the numerous glowing screens of Kindles lighting up the tables, I  wonder if I’ve got it all wrong. If I should be accepting this evolving literary technology rather than turning up my nose up at it.

The problem is, when I imagine my future house, like many other book worms, I always imagine a library room like this:

old-library-reading-room

Photo credit: laurenkatebooks.net

But if I have a Kindle, or other form of eBook – HOW WILL I HAVE A LIBRARY ROOM?!

There’s something so satisfying about buying a new book (or an old one if you’re a poor student like me) and opening it to feel the pages and smell the cliché new book heady scent. It’s the little things in life like these which keep a girl going and I can’t imagine that the push of a button will ever compare to a turn of a soft paper page. And what about the artwork of a book? The paratext? The experience of a book is in the physical picking up of it, glancing at the cover, turning it over to read the blurb and to check the inside cover. No amount of technology will ever be able to recreate that and frankly, why would you want to?

Redecorating and sorting out my room last month brought up the heartbreaking dilemma of having to throw away some books, simply so they could fit on my bookshelves. A conversation with my mother about the value of books occurred:

Mum: “I don’t think you’ll be able to sell those Enid Blyton books.”

(N.B. Those Enid Blyton books being a collection of about fifty Enid Blyton books from the 60s, given to me by my mum and the staple of my childhood literary diet)

Me: “Well it doesn’t matter anyway. I wouldn’t want to sell them.”

Mum: “But even if you did. You wouldn’t get much. They’ve got no market value.”

Me: “But it doesn’t matter! I don’t want to sell them! They’ve got too much sentimental value.”

Mum: “Ok. I’m just letting you know that nobody would want to buy them.”

This was a traumatic conversation with my mum and her Kindle Fire completely failing to comprehend how much these books mean to me. And how I want to keep them to give to my children. And never sell them. EVER.

075

 

079

My beloved Enid Blyton collection: priceless.

But then again, I can’t help but admire the practicality of a Kindle. After another back-breaking journey to and from university, in which I carried a Complete Works of Shakespeare, an Anthology of Criticism and a couple of other paperbacks, my aching bones were telling me that there must be another, easier way. One that didn’t leave me permanently crippled. And how about the fact that I could make more valuable space in my suitcase if I brought just one Kindle rather than my usual stock of holiday fiction? All my books in one place could be convenient, annoyingly so. And they’re so much cheaper in digital version too. Sometimes it feels like I should embrace the inevitable and stop making such a fuss.

But ultimately, I’m an old fashioned girl when it comes to books and I don’t think I’ll be getting a Kindle any time soon, particularly because I simply can’t afford one  at the moment. I still maintain my dream of a cottage packed to the rafters with books and redecorating my room last month proved to me just how many books I have and treasure in their physical form. But that’s not saying that I won’t be picking up a Kindle in the future. I just hope that the same digitalisation won’t happen entirely to books as has happened to music, and that in the future books will still be treasured, not just for material value, but for sentimental value too.

Library

Wise words, Mr Eliot.

Advertisements

6 comments

  1. Haha. I’m a rare book collector plus an over-educated student of Literature, book critic, bookaholic. Books to the rafters in every room! The Kindle is great, just don’t fall for the “Free on Kindle” or “Only 99 cents” editions of the classics WITHOUT good intros and notes. They are down and dirty text -only rip offs of books in the public domain (no longer protected by copyright) and unreliable, misleading, text is usually unfaithful and corrupt. Otherwise, carry on! Read, read everything! 🙂 Best wishes

  2. Quality books will last a very long time and as yet we do not know if Kindle can last a decade and only this morning I was discussing the challenges of trying to access electronic files that are more than 10 years old stored in outdated formate with obsolete operating system designed for museum exhibition computers. If you truely want it to last and be a legacy then books have that quality but for here and now reading for immediate pleasure the Kindle has a quality all of its own. I am certain that first generation Kindles will be sold at auction in 10-20 years time for huge sums of money, but the collections of ebooks will discipate.

  3. I know exactly where you’re coming from here. I’m at the opposite end of the age spectrum to you (61 next month) and have loved books all my life. My love of reading material is so strong you’d probably call it a love affair! I have an early model Kindle as I’ve got so many books and magazines that I’m already in trouble with the local council. It hasn’t solved the problem much though. While I have bought a few books on Kindle rather than buying the hard copies, the majority of the Kindle content I have is supplementary to my book collection, not instead of it! And to make matters worse, I’m still buying real books like there’s no tomorrow. I understand the appeal of storage and carrying where Kindles are concerned but there is nothing, and I doubt if there ever will be, that can replace the smell, feel, appearance and even the sound (of a turning page) of real books. There are the little things as well. The inscriptions in previously owned books give them a life and a history of there own. And there’s one last thing. I have 6 bookcases in 4 rooms, plus numerous shelves. I regularly get immense pleasure in just going into a room and spending a few minutes looking lovingly upon my collection. Even merely sitting in the spare bedroom/ study and being in the presence of 2 large, overfull bookcases brings a very comforting feeling. I cannot imagine sitting in there, without books or bookcases, and just a Kindle resting on the desk. It doesn’t even begin to compare.

    1. Thank you for for your comment Kevin! My friend and I really believe that you should be able to purchase books with Kindle versions combined so that you have the best of both worlds in terms of portability and physicality. I’m still tempted by a Kindle, but for now I’ll stick with real books, and I’m glad you feel the same way.

  4. […] Once you have a giggle about the whole ‘cracks’ part, it’s not difficult to see why Green is so popular and why his books are so relatable. It’s beautiful, I love it. A great author with a great fanbase, and someone deserved of all of his success. I’d recommend Paper Towns to anybody of any age. I’d also recommend a Kindle if it didn’t feel a little hypocritical given my previous rant about them. […]

  5. […] you would like to see my previous long rant about the Kindle, please click here. Otherwise, please just accept that I am a hypocrite and that things have changed, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: