Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Recent reads, Kindle and otherwise

Of late, I've been alternating my reading between real, tactile books and ebooks on a Kindle.  Thought this would be the best way to get a clear sense of what I like or prefer about each.

What I like about having books on a Kindle:
  • the digital wizardry of the process and the product - it's a toy I enjoy;
  • I can search for a book, find it and download the thing in the space of 30 seconds - especially good if I've started reading a book that doesn't belong to me and I want to carry on with it, or if I'm after a book in a hurry;
  • I'm no longer cluttering my shelves with books I'm not particularly attached to (but can still buy hard copies of those I really want);
  • they're cheaper than the hard copy, and environmentally sound;
  • so many books can be downloaded for free;
  • I can take as many books as I'll ever manage to read or need to reference when I'm travelling;
  • they're making books fashionable and appealing for a new generation of reader;
  • more people are writing, more authors are getting published, the conservative stranglehold of (many) publishing houses is being challenged;
  • I can attempt(!) to read books in a foreign language and simply press a word for its definition when I don't understand it.

What I don't like about Kindle books:
  • I miss the colour, the texture and the smell of the hard copy, and the tactile experience of holding it and thumbing through the pages, and hearing them snip-snap when I flick at them, and I miss the personal feel of an old favourite that's become dog-eared and faded - that's a big set of things;
  • digital books don't give me the same sense of where I'm up to in a story - I like to be able to gauge the progress of a story by where I'm up to in the thickness of the thing, and having this listed as a percentage doesn't cut the mustard;
  • I also like to know where I'm up to in terms of a page number (surely that could be managed?) instead of what appears to be a randomly spaced Location number;
  • it's irritating when the Kindle jumps a couple of digital pages, or a hundred, and every page has to be digitally turned to get back to the right position;
  • only one person can access the library of books on a particular Kindle at a time;
  • insufficient quality control of editing - the lack of investment in printing a book might mean that it's too easy and temptingly quick for some publishers and self-publishers to publish digitally;
  • I'm less confident about reading in the bath.
What I've read on Kindle recently:
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes - I've wanted to read this for years, so I was pleased I could download it for free on Kindle, but it bored me silly and I had to stop after 24%;
  • The Obituarist by Patrick O'Duffy;
  • The Brush-Off by Shane Maloney;
  • Underground Nest by Kathleen Maher;
  • Street by Tyler Stevens;
  • Medea by Euripedes - just started;
  • Blue Friday by Mike French - just finishing.

What I've read in hard copy recently:
  • The Boat by Nam Le;
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh;
  • The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chödrön;
  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön;
  • The Places That Scare You by Pema Chödrön (- my fourth novel may well have a Zen Bhuddist thread woven through it!);
  • The Lady With the Little Dog and other stories by Anton Chekov - for the 3rd or 4th time;
  • Black Cow by Magdalena Ball;
  • Beginners by Raymond Carver.
While I'll continue to read books in both hard copy and digital format, via a Kindle or similar, my preference for the time-being is firmly with the former.  However, that said, I'll give a resounding three cheers for Kindle, if only because Snowing and Greening seems to be selling superbly in that format.  Cheers to that!


Netty said...

Tried a friends Kindle....not for me. Give me a good old fashioned book any day. The books become old friends and very comforting, x

Paul Burman said...

They feel like 'old friends' indeed. I might not re-read them regularly or at all, but I like to see them around. :-)