Friday 21 June 2013

Does The Kindle Spell The End For Books In Print?

Article written for GKBC Academy.

For those a little behind the times, or perhaps have been living in a cave for the last year or so, a Kindle is an ‘e-reader’ - electronic book reader.  It is the most modern and trendy way to read the latest best sellers or an old favourite.  It works in the same way as an iPod, books are bought in a store and utilized through an electronic device.  A Kindle, or its similar counterparts, is user friendly enough for even the most adverse technophobe but cool enough for even the most on-trend of folk, but for the many book lovers out there the difference is incomparable.

Although a Kindle is slim, light and has the capacity to store a library of books, many like to remain in the dark ages of books in print and I for one am one of them.  A book has a certain intimacy about it, the subtle yet satisfying flick of each page as it comes to an end is certainly an element I would miss if I was to become a member of the Kindle club.  Getting cosy with a Kindle on a miserable evening snuggled under a blanket doesn’t have the same appeal and reassuring familiarity about it as a good well worn and well travelled book does.   For many readers, one of the greatest pleasures of reading a good book is passing it on to a friend to read – a characteristic which a Kindle does not have.  Although on the other hand the beauty of a Kindle is the ability to access basically every book available at such ease that a suggestion of a great read to a friend can be recommended from all reaches of the globe without a trip to Waterstones or a meet-up to exchange favourites.

The comfort of a real book allows the reader to find a suitable end to put the book down for the night; a luxury e-book readers are not afforded as the pages roll on without a seemingly obvious ending (unless you flick ahead at the risk of losing the page you are on).  Luckily, for Kindle lovers there is a large variety of books available cheaply, or for free, offering readers the opportunity to find new favourite authors or rediscover beloved books at the flick of a finger.  A Kindle is definitely for the impatient reader, allowing the purchase and consumption of a new book before the previous has even finished.  Another beauty of owning a Kindle, and additionally a smart phone, is the Kindle app which synchronises the devices allowing you to read from the same page that you left off on from any location without having to lug a heavy hard back in your handbag. 

For those who freely declare, the smell of a book whether old or new is something that a Kindle cannot compete on.  Admittedly, I doubt many readers purchase books purely on the smell, but I for one would certainly miss the comforting smell of an old favourite or, even better, a newbie. 

I would say the jury’s out on Kindle vs books in print, but I believe there will always be a market and a faithful following for good old fashioned books.  ‘Technophiliacs’ will always jump on the latest band wagon for the most on-trend technological craze and at the launch of the Kindle that is what I believed it to be – the latest fad for hipsters to cling onto, although my observation was incorrect.  A wise man once said “you can’t reinvent the wheel” but in terms of reading books this wise man has been proved wrong.  I believe there is a place for both the Kindle and books in print, they both have their advantages and downfalls, but as the old saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Where do you stand on the Kindle vs book in print face off?       

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