I hear a lot of complaining about the loss of real books – as if a work published on Kindle is not, in fact, a book. Just looked up the definition of “book” – it has been updated thus:
- a handwritten or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers.
- a work of fiction or nonfiction in an electronic format
I used to be confused when musicians talked about their latest “album,” when to my mind an album was on a disk of some sort. Then someone reminded me of the obvious – an album is actually a collection of music, photographs, stamps, dead insects, whatever. If a collection of music is presented on a CD, it's still a damn album. Duh.
So today a “book” is a piece of writing, of a certain length, presented in such as way that it can be read, whether on paper or electronically.
So much for the “real book” argument.
Here is my argument for the Kindle (or any other device of your choosing):
- Books are heavy. I’ve packed up hundreds of boxes of books in my lifetime to move them hundreds of miles from one end of the country to the other. If only I had had a Kindle.
- Books are heavy. I’ve also packed them into my luggage (more books than underwear) and hauled them through airports, onto trains, and down strange streets looking for a place I’d never been before. If only I had had a Kindle.
- I cannot bear to throw books away, and so house after house of mine has been filled with bookshelves which were filled with books I’d already read and likely would not read again (but what if I want to?) If only I had had a Kindle. (Of course, my houses would have lost a cool factor, but there’s always something.)
- Even only one book takes up a lot of room in a person’s purse/briefcase/backpack. Whatever. A Kindle is a much lighter load.
- On Amazon, books for Kindle are cheaper. My novels are $15-17 in a bookstore. They're $4.99 on Kindle. That mystery series you’re into? Those vampire novels? Buy ‘em on Kindle and they will be there when you want them. I've gone through Cornwell, The Expanse series, all of Trollope, and a lot of early Woolf. You will even find some older books by classic writers available for free.
- No waiting. A long weekend coming up? You can binge read that series you’ve been meaning to get. If the book you want is available, just order it to your Kindle and wait two minutes. Okay – maybe a 2-minute wait. There’s always something.
- All kinds of handy ways to use it, to bookmark a page (it always returns to the page you left off on), to write a note in the “margin,” etc. Full disclosure – I have not had the patience to learn anything except how to enlarge the print. Oh – did I mention enlarging the print? Even if you’ve forgotten your glasses and have to read half a sentence at a time in VERY LARGE PRINT – there’s almost nothing except battery power to prevent you from doing so.
There are books you DON”T want to buy on Kindle. For me, these include the doorstoppers – big, thick novels or non-fiction tomes, and books I just know I’m going to want to keep and treasure. Right now, two of the latter include Prairie Fires, A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton. I have all of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter books in hardback. Mumford, Diamond, and Toynbee. My bookshelves hold those books I love, the ones I like to look at, to remember when I go by something of what they have given me. The shelves will slowly refill. (Much of my pre-Kindle collection was given to Friends of the Seattle Library before I left.)
Meanwhile, my Kindle is my constant friend and companion. I keep her well-fed and as protected (nice cover) as I can. She goes wherever I go. She curls up with me on rainy afternoons. She gets tucked into bed with me at night. She’s full of delight and surprises, and I love opening her cover and picking up where I left off. At present, I’m reading a mystery novel called Hope Never Dies, featuring that awesome detective twosome Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Joe and Barack are going to exonerate the Amtrak conductor. I just know they are. Can’t wait to read another chapter. All I have to do is open my Kindle.