Kindle and the Love of Books

book loveA few years ago, you would have heard my ‘soapbox’ rant about the electronic reading experience. I was a vocal objector to the Kindle and its entire e-reader ilk. I was the happy owner of several thousand ‘tree books’, all well-read, sometimes falling apart, crammed two or three deep on my numerous bookcases. That’s not mentioning the ones stacked in or on my bedside table, piled on the sofa, hiding in handbags, on loan to other people or still in boxes at my parents’ house.
This happy book lover was utterly distraught when I learned I would have to reduce the number of books I owned when we decided to immigrate to Cyprus. It was almost a deal-breaker. Shipping my entire library would have cost the same as our entire shipping bill. The necessity for an e-reader became apparent.
Initially, the hubby and I opted for a small tablet, instead of the dedicated e-readers, because a) he is a geek (he prefers uber-geek) b) most tablets have large capacity and the option to extend it with a micro SD card and c) they are multifunctional. In the beginning, this was fine, I had a variety of reader apps to use and the one I liked best, Cool Reader, had the most adaptation options to optimise the reading experience. However, tablet reading is just not viable for a voracious reader, such as myself. The battery life was poor, powering a backlit, colour, touch-screen was just too much for my reading appetite, and backlit reading is terrible for causing eyestrain.
After an accidental cracking of my tablet screen (it’s still perfectly functional just no good for reading on), my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday. Yes, after a vociferous denial of the Kindle, I was finally a member of the club and I am quite willing to say I am very happy with it.
No, the Kindle doesn’t have expandable memory, but who really needs to carry over a thousand books around? The e-ink screen gives a far better reading experience, with reduced eyestrain, and the battery can last over five days, and that’s accommodating my constant reading (somewhere around 10 hrs a day, or more). It’s not perfect. When you need to change the books out it can be a bit of a pain, it’s not like picking another of the bookshelf, and when you need to recharge it requires an overnight charge to have a full battery again.
It has unexpected benefits too, it keeps things tidy. I had a propensity to keep paper books in every room of the house, now the paper books only come out when the kindle needs charging (or I don’t have an e-book equivalent) and I no longer have décor that resembles an old library or bookstore. There is another benefit, which I never considered, before our move to sunny Cyprus, I am no longer in danger of losing pages of my paperbacks by reading in the sun and letting the spine glue melt.
However much I love my little Kindle, I cannot claim to be completely devoted. If I hadn’t been faced with a reader’s dilemma, losing my library or switching to e-books, I would never have made the transition. I still love the smell of a brand new hardback, I derive joy from buying a first edition copy of a favourite author, I adore the crack of the spine as I work my way through a paperback.
There is a reason that bookshops are still in business, books are still special and sometimes an e-reader cannot do it justice. We will still introduce children to paper books filled with pictures because a seven-inch screen cannot compare. We will still use recipe books because we don’t want to risk drowning or destroying the e-reader while cooking or not being able to see a proper picture of how our culinary efforts should look. There is still joy in owning a physical copy of an important book (whether it’s important to you personally or as an investment).
I’m still the owner of several thousand books, but most are still in the UK waiting for shipping. I have purchased more while I’ve been here, both new and second hand, but I still use the Kindle. Sometimes, I feel I’m torn between two lovers, but I know that I’m not, I love books both paper and electronic, The Kindle is just really convenient.

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