Learning to love a kindle.

Posted in blog post on January 3rd, 2011 by Merrill Markoe

On this, the eve of the release of the brand new novel by Snooki, I am thinking about my new kindle.

I just bought one a few months ago, after a lot of contemplation and quite a few recommendations from smart friends.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole idea but I did know that lack of shelf space was becoming a problem in my house.  Also, my local library was down for remodeling…not that I used it that much since buying books on impulse was one habit I have never figured out how to curtail.

So I bought a kindle.

Once I got it hooked up, I began to debate with myself what to read for my maiden voyage. Which books was I willing to spend money on but didn’t care if I owned in 3 D?  So I downloaded Room by Emma Donoghue and Glass Castle  by Jeanette Walls, two books I had been thinking about reading but for some reason hadn’t gotten around to yet.  And it was very impressive how, in seconds, there they were. Or should I say, there were their titles on my kindle…more quickly than I can sometimes open a g-mail.

Right away, I read both at the speed of light and enjoyed them. Everything seemed perfect, including how happy I was not having to store either volume on a shelf when I was finished. I loved how I was able to hold a kindle in one hand, with no pages to restrain or to dog ear. The reading surface was nicely lit. It was all very manageable, convenient and easy.

But as I continued forward in my kindling pursuits,  it began to occur to me that there are kindle books, and then there are the ones you still probably have to buy. And of course, when I say you I mean me.

For example, it wasn’t that much fun to read a play.  The dialogue doesn’t print in the same organized fashion as on the page of a play. The stage directions are kind of discombobulated and hard to follow . I mean,  it wasn’t all that bad. But having a standard play book is better.

It  was the next book I tried  that  brought the problem front and center.  This one, recommended by a friend, was the kind of book that takes  a little time to get in to.  I could tell from the first page that eventually it would be an enjoyable, satisfying read. But it wasn’t an instant page turner. That was when I started sensing  the kindle problem  .

When it comes to  a book that is a little bit challenging, it helps to have the object there  in 3 D. At least, its helpful to me. I want to shuffle thru the pages and find that part two pages ago that I  must have overlooked or something.  I want to stare at the cover and/or the author’s picture and ruminate on whether the book is worth reading.  Challenging books are by definition more of an experience. And an experience is supposed to exist in 3D.

The kindle amounts to a different version of the same problem that I have  reading articles on line. Or should I say ‘not reading articles on-line.” Because I never invest the same kind of time when I am reading electronically. For me, at least, reading on-line is more about skimming than anything. On-line reading is about headlines. The content is often bullet points about things that exist in real life. So the idea is to grab the big points and then get distracted and go off to check your Facebook page. (In fact, whoever you are, now reading this…you probably haven’t read  more than half of what I’ve written. And come on, dude…. its only a few sentences long.) (But hang on. This is almost the very end. Less than ten sentences left!)

I guess what I am trying to say is that seems to me,  the kindle is  made to order for page-turners.  Its perfect for the kind of best seller that you want to have a look at but really don’t think is important enough to own. Or one you are ashamed of yourself for buying in the first place.

On the other hand, challenging, carefully written books are meant to be absorbed in a more physical way.  Having an actual book with  hundreds of printed pages between two covers sitting on your lap is by definition a more demanding encounter. A 3 D book doesn’t let you off the hook so easy. It asks you to  persist when you get restless. It asks you to go back and re read that part two pages ago that apparently you didn’t get the first time. It reminds you that you spent money on this damn thing and owe it a  little  respect.

And know what else?  Its easier to get a crush on a real book.  If you’re enjoying yourself, a 3D book gives you a lot more to bond with. As far as I can tell, it is no fun at all to hug a kindle.

Therefore I think, in the future, I will always be making a choice between ‘Book or Kindle?” And I will be using the  kindle  for the kind of books I don’t really want to keep. Because in a way, having them on kindle is  not like having them at all. They take up no space in your life. So its a little like all the stuff that you read on-line yesterday. Where is it now? And what was all that stuff anyway? (Also, no pictures on a kindle. Tho no doubt that is the kind of thing that will be corrected in the next generation of e readers.)

And having said all that,  as far as I can tell, the category has yet to be invented that adequately fits the purchase of something written by Snooki.

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5 Responses to “Learning to love a kindle.”

  1. Marian Allen says:

    I don’t yet have a Kindle, but I have Kindle for PC. I’m reading a very challenging book on it and I find that, while I CAN hop back and forth and look for that bit I half-way remember and need to know to understand what’s happening in the story now, I would prefer to do it in, as you put it, 3D. I think Kindle (for PC) reading is going to be like ripped-off music: for something I hear in throw-away form but want to keep, I’ll buy a second copy in 3D. Or two copies in 3D, so I can keep one and lend one out and not worry if the person I loan it to loves it too much to give it back.

    I read WALKING IN CIRCLES BEFORE LYING DOWN (in 3D) and I will never, ever EVER lend it, unless I buy a lendable copy.

  2. Erin says:

    I like to have very few belongings, but books are the one thing I allow myself to own massive amounts of.. which is REALLY fun when moving! I haven’t bought a Kindle yet (being poor is also really fun) but I would like to try one some day. It would probably be a few less heavy boxes in my car every time I lug my stuff to a new place.

    I am just catching up on your blog now because Internet service here in France is crap, and missed your book giveway. If you’re still feeling inclined to offer your book in French, do let me know. Wait, didn’t I just say I have too many books every time I move? Whatever, I need the exercise.

  3. Cathy says:

    I am the marketers dream. I have books that I buy the old-fashioned way, those I purchase as Kindle-only, and — I’m a little embarrassed to admit — those I purchase in book and Kindle form. Writing these words makes me realize I’m particularly blessed to have enough spare change to do this. Having not always been in this position, it’s my little luxury to carry my Kindle around during the week (something I’ve been doing for the three years since I’ve had the first generation) and occassionally re-read words from a select few books on my shelves that were particularily meaningful to me. Here’s the part where I’ll sound like a dorky fan: I have a couple of your novels on my shelves and in electronic print, something I promise you I’ll never say to Snooki.

  4. paul buttles says:

    Over the last 2 years I’ve bought 6 Kindles for friends and a kid who LOVES reading. I bought the Kindle because it made economic sense. Downloading a book is far cheaper than buying one. We buy all our books on Amazon. If we want a particular title we check to see if a second hand copy is available. If it is, it’s usually ridiculously cheap, sometimes as little as a penny + shipping. If it isn’t available, then we buy the Kindle version. We also lend and borrow books using the Kindle, for free. That’s a very nice feature. Had I not spent so much money buying Kindles for others, we’d be way ahead of the game. :-)

    P.

    PS. I prefer to read my Kindle books on my laptop. The Mrs on the other hand prefers reading on the Kindle. Cada uno con lo suyo, as they say in Spain.

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