My vendetta against the Kindle

May 7, 2012 6:08 pm

I was sat yesterday with my daughter’s friend, reading one of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. We had such a lovely time turning the pages and looking at the lovely illustrations. It made me think what a shame it is that the wonderful Book is under threat.

I know, I know,  we all buy books online but is there anything better or more important than a good bookstore? I love wandering round a local bookstore, browsing books, seeing the latest offerings. I used to go with a friend and browse our local W.H.Smith and then go for a coffee, it was a Saturday morning tradition. It would be awful if that experience were to be lost forever because of the Kindle.

I think there’s a part of the whole reading experience that is missing when you read it on a small electronic screen. The fact that this trend is now starting to put actual bookstores out of business scares me. I can’t smell a kindle. I can’t use my favorite ink pen to put a heart next to excerpts I like or a big star next to things that get me thinking. I can’t write notes in my own handwriting in the margins. I can’t flick through it, or crease it,  or love it the way I can love a book. The time put into browsing and flipping through a book at a place you actually had to get out of bed and dressed to visit adds to the experience of reading, like you spent time picking the cutest puppy at the pound and now it wants you to love it; that will never be replaced by clicking a button and waiting for a file to download. It is not and will never be the same, nor will it ever be nearly as good.

I’ve recently started collecting all of the Enid Blyton books. I want to be able to share with my children the joy of reading a book.  There won’t be anything like that in 50 years if this continues, and I think that’s horrible. I can’t imagine my child growing up without a book collection of their own. It’s a key and sublime element of our interaction. If everyone’s books were hidden behind clicks of buttons  and scrolling of wheels, that magic would be lost forever.

Imprinting paper with ink is, in this day and age, a lightweight, inexpensive way to communicate. There’s a reason books rank with fire and the wheel as the greatest inventions of all time. So why the improvement? What hitherto insoluble problem do e-readers address? The answer, I believe, is a cynical but (as cynicism usually is) truthful one: E-readers serve a need created by the people who sell them. Without the mighty arm of Amazon to wave the Kindle ensign, an e-reader would seem like something a half-crazy alcoholic retiree invented in his garage and was trying to get you to invest in (HIM: ‘Braaaaar! Check out my new invention! It takes pages from a book and puts them on a screen! That way the library can’t get your fingerprints!’ YOU: (BACKING SLOWLY BUT STEADILY OUT OF THE GARAGE) ‘I’m going to go find your nurse….’). But once the Kindle had Oprah’s endorsement, many people were convinced it was as indispensible as, say, ‘O’ magazine.

Take into consideration the advantages of the low cost of a book. If you lose or damage it, it’s no big deal. If it’s a library book you’ll have to replace it, but if you bought it used or new, you’re out £5-£10. But if you lose or damage a Kindle, you’re out a whopping £100 at least!

The Kindle has ‘over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books available to read…including titles such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Treasure Island.’ Finally, someone has unearthed texts from the mysterious, bygone era of ‘pre-1923’! Because, as everyone knows, you can’t find Pride And Prejudice anywhere. The Toronto Public Library certainly doesn’t have forty-two copies of Pride And Prejudice available. And, Lord knows I haven’t managed to somehow wind up with two copies of Pride And Prejudice on my bookshelf, despite only having read it once  and not being especially fond of Jane Austen. We can only thank Christ the Kindle has made Pride And Prejudice, a book in publication for almost two hundred years and with millions of copies in existence, available to the public…

I certainly do not want all bookstores to go away in favor of some electronic paper whatever the hell that is? Imagine not being able to browse a bookstore and find that right book?
Someone please tell me what we are to do?
I don’t want to read books- even bad ones on a computer screen.  I want to sit with a book and coffee and read books that are objects not just pixels.  It is bad enough that Google is stealing every book ever published but tell me why are they trying to kill the bookstore?

Frankly I have had enough please go away Kindle and the rest of your satanic brethern….

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