Posted by: gillarbuthnott | January 8, 2012

The Joys of Kindling

Like another mllion or so people, I opened one of my Christmas parcels to find a Kindle inside. So, what do I think now I’ve had a couple of weeks to get to know it?

The reading experience certainly isn’t like reading from a computer screen, and compares pretty well with an ink and paper book. I love the fact that I can change font size, since I now need specs to read and somtimes forget to put them in  my bag when I’m going out!. It’s great for reading on the move, and is good for reading at a bus stop in a high wind (particularly handy in Edinburgh over the last month!).  I sometimes feel I’d like to be able to make the screen a bit brighter though.

Downloading is fast and easy and the battery is obviously going to last for ages before it needs recharged. So, am I a convert to the Kindle,  how will I use it, and should Edinburgh’s book shops be worrying about the drop in their profit margins now that I’ve got it?

It definitely won’t be replacing printed books for me. For all its ease of use, there are some things it can’t replicate. You can’t flick back to check on something, you can’t lend an ebook to someone else, and you can’t really browse properly. On the other hand, I am now protected from my tendency to take a peek at the last page, ‘accidentally on purpose’. But the biggest disadvantage to my mind is that it has a curiously flattening effect, since every book looks like every other book; no variation in thickness, smell, paper quality, ink or font. You don’t notice these until they’re not there any more.

I can see it’s going to be very useful indeed for travelling, and on holidays: no more worrying in case I don’t have enough books to last me a week. I’ll be able to pack far more clothes when I go away now. I’ll also use it as a ‘tester’ to decide if I like a book enough to want to read it more than once. For instance, since Christmas, I’ve read three new books, two of which are only available in hardback at the moment. I’ll be buying two of them in paperback, and know I’ve escaped wasting money on the third. 

But if I like a book, I’m still going to want it  to be a physical presence on a shelf in my house, so fear not, booksellers of Edinburgh!

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