05 April 2013

books & the kindle

This feels like a confession:  I bought a Kindle a month ago. I'm not sure what to think of it yet. So I read books on my Kindle and books in print. See purse filled with both my Kindle and a book, above. (I don't normally carry both around, I promise.)

On the one hand, I love it. It's so convenient and small! So lightweight and thin! So chic!

I have the Kindle Paperwhite, which is strictly an e-reader. No funny tablet business or sneaky Facebook checking for me. I am already way too plugged in with my iPhone and laptop. I just want to read. And I also really wanted one with that e-ink technology that makes the pages look like actual book pages, not like reading on a glossy, glare-y tablet.

Here are the high points of owning a Kindle or other e-reader:

An e-reader is so amazingly convenient. I can buy books in an instant! On a recent long layover after a missed flight, I was listening to an interview with Sheryl Sandberg and immediately, instantly bought her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and started reading it. It was my first glimpse into this wonderful world of instant book-buying gratification.

I can carry with me a lot of books at one time. Look how small it is compared to another book I'm reading! When I travel, or even when I go to a park for the day, I bring too many books. I worry that I will finish one and be stuck, stranded, alone with no books for an unknown period of time. I worry that I will lose interest in one book and get the hankering for a different book. These are... well, they aren't really rational problems, but I know myself well enough to know that I can't stop bringing several books with me every time I leave the house. So having a Kindle lessens my crazy. I bring my one Kindle with me and am quietly content with the knowledge that I actually have many books with me at any given time. And if those books don't do it? I can buy another one instantly.

I can read books without people noticing the cover and asking me about them. I've heard a lot about the "50 Shades of Gray on the e-reader" phenomenon, which makes perfect sense, but I'm even more grateful for the ability to hide my new age, metaphysical, self-help texts from the common passerby. Not everyone that walks past needs to see exactly what I'm reading and the Kindle affords me that privacy.

I can read books in bed and still snuggle under the blankets, because I don't have to hold the book open. It's really rad. I just prop it up on my lap or a pillow and read, hands-free. It's lazy, but it is comfortable.

I can highlight and take notes at will. I'm a big note-taker and highlighter and am always frantically grabbing for a pen while reading. My Kindle makes it so easy to highlight important sentences and sections. Just drag your finger across a sentence and it's highlighted. Then you can see all of the passages you've marked up in one place. You can also delete highlights and notes, which is nice.

But? It's not all reading bliss here in my new e-book world. The low points:

I can't share books with the people who I think would enjoy them. I was raised to read and raised to share books. I do both with gusto, except that now the Kindle prevents me from book sharing. I've already encountered this problem when recommending books to friends. I tell them about one I just finished and how urgent it is for them to read it. Then I remember that I read mine on the Kindle and so I begin to awkwardly trail off saying that I wish I could lend them my copy but it's an electronic version so... just buy it yourself.

E-books aren't ideal for books that you want to flip through and haphazardly read different sections. It's best for straight-through reads. Novels, absolutely. Other paperback-esque books, sure. Big lifestyle, hardcover books? Ones with delicious photos and graphics? Ones with unique layouts? Not really. Those I will continue to buy in hard copy or borrow from the library. I don't mind having both my Kindle and my full bookshelves.

I probably won't buy from local book shops as much as I should. Let me be clear: I love local book shops. I love used book shops. I also, however, love Amazon. There's a time and place, I think, for all of them. I never scout out a book at a local shop and then backhandedly order it through Amazon. If I find it somewhere, I buy it there. But if it's obscure or if I know I won't have time to go shopping for awhile, I'll order it on Amazon, no guilt. So there. Another confession. But I do feel badly that my Kindle will further prevent me from patronizing the local guys. I just learned that I can somehow borrow e-books from the library, so I feel less guilty about that.

Phew, it feels good to get this Kindle confession out in the open. I can't believe I've crossed over to the dark side, but it comforts me to know that there will always be hardcopy books on my shelves too. There are some books that work on the Kindle and some that don't. I'm just excited by how many books I have with me most of the time, without even noticing it.


  1. I got the paperwhite for christmas and i LOVE IT. I haven't touched a regular book since ( i feel guilty ) I download free amazon ebooks all the time too. One thing that makes me angry is that some of the best sellers i want to read that aren't available for download from the library, which is kind of lame.

    also: if you wanted to let a friend borrow a book, if they had a kindle too you could probably e-mail them the file right? or does amazon not allow that? I've never tried...

  2. Please let us know how downloading books from the library goes! We teach classes here at my library at how to get books on your Kindle, so any user input is always appreciated :)
    The reason a lot of bestsellers aren't available from the library in ebook form is that publishers refuse to allow libraries to buy them.... totally lame, and our patrons are the ones who don't get a good reading experience.

  3. Clarissa KilburnApril 8, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Kindle does allow you to share your books with other Kindle users...I haven't tried it yet, but I know that it's available to you. : )

    1. Ah yes, you are right, but they can only borrow the book for 14 days & not all books are "lendable". But still, good to know!


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