Kindle and the Good Old Days of Paper Books

old-bookI read about 30+ history, literature, or philosophy books in 2012, all of which I read on a Kindle. I currently own and use the latest version (Kindle Paperwhite). In the following comments I refer to a “Kindle” but really I mean any ereader. Kindle is just the only one I have experience using. I’m sure they are all similar more or less.

From day one, my brain immediately accepted the reality of this new medium. Why? It’s more convenient. Every pragmatic aspect of the reading experience is better on an ereader, but there are other things to consider…

Practical Reasons to Go with Kindle

  • I can highlight and take lengthy notes much easier (no long constrained by the size of the margin).
  • Once I’m done reading a book, I have a nice list of organized notes that are linked to the highlights in the book. I have access to these notes not just on the Kindle but online and all Kindle apps I install on any device.
  • I can carry hundreds of books in my pocket.
  • Kindle is much easier to hold than a book. This doesn’t come into play when I’m reading at my desk, but if I’m reading while on public transit or just laying in my bed, you’d be surprised how nice it is not to have to think about an arm going numb or tired. I can fully get lost in the reading for hours.

Emotional Reasons to Go with Kindle

  • The amount of text per Kindle page is less than the usual paper book page, so I always feel like I’m reading at incredible speeds. The “turning” of the page is somehow an intoxicating experience.
  • This will sound ridiculous, but on my old Kindle, where the turning of the page was done by pressing a button instead of pressing on the touchscreen, the sound of the button click was very addictive. I would compare it to something like getting reward points in an Xbox 360 video game. That’s the only reason I don’t like the new Paperwhite that’s touchscreen based. It works well, but doesn’t have that “button click” response feel.

Conceptual Reasons to Go with Kindle

Ereader technology is improving dramatically every year. The price is coming down. Sales of ebooks are skyrocketing to where they’ve overtaken their hardcover and paperback counterparts. That means incentive grows for publishers to improve the ebook experience. This is the future, and we have to get used to it. In the long term, it’s always easier to live life embracing change instead of resisting change.

Emotional Reasons NOT to Go with Kindle

I still have all of these concerns today, but the feeling fades slowly day by day (it almost sounds as if I’m talking about grieving a loss of a friend):

  • The feel of paper, while nothing special in an objective sense, has been associated with great life-changing books in my mind. So there is a definite Pavlovian response of an motivating intellectual spark every time I touch or turn a paper page.
  • Trophies. Someone brought this up to me recently, and I didn’t realize how true it is. I love the feeling of finishing a book and putting it up on a bookshelf much like people might hang up a medal after winning a sporting event. I really am proud of “conquering” these little challenges. Every once in a while I notice this or that book on the bookshelf and smile from the memories of life when that particular book was a central part of my daily life.


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