The e-reader issue has been keeping the blogosphere bubbling for quite a while, but lately I’ve been contemplating the issue myself and also read a few interesting posts on the topic. (There were actually more than those two. But I have the memory of a fish and can’t remember whose they were – sorry! Please do drop me a comment if you wrote one. UPDATE: I just remembered another one that really struck a chord.) Today, I’m chipping in with my own two cents. There might be more than just two cents. Prepare.
I used to be quite fervently against e-readers. After all they are, I thought, going to kill one of the creatures that I love most in the universe: the printed book (Libellus imprimitus). There is nothing better than a well-made book. The cracking sound the spine makes when it’s first opened. The smell of… book – paper, glue, and whatever else they use in bookmaking. Surely there is a Book Smell Division at the marketing department of every major publisher.
As books die out, they are going to take a whole microcosm of other lovable creatures with them. The independent bookseller (Librarius liber), for instance, who would be red listed by now were they an animal species. Under threat by the Gigantic Online Retailer Who Shall Not Be Named (Amazonus infandus), big chains only slightly less threatening, including Waterstonei colloseus, to name just one example (here in Germany, another species, Thalia ubique, is more common). The book universe as I know it would collapse if I were to buy an e-reader, and I, along with all the other e-reader customers out there, would be to blame for the slow and painful death of uncountable specimen of Librarius liber.
Well, you know how this is going to go. I moved. My commute changed from a comfortable short-distance train ride to a much less comfortable bus and then metro ride. As I got a “proper job” I ditched my grad student-y Bag Of Hugeness that was able to hold half of the University library’s stock for a more elegant grown-up purse that holds… one book if it’s fairly small (it’s currently struggling with Bolaño’s Detectives salvajes).
All of a sudden, I’m feeling the itch to buy a Kindle. Not just any e-reader, but indeed, the one from Amazonus infandus, the Gigantic Online Retailer Who Shall Not Be Named. It’s been highly recommended by everyone I’ve asked – Mr Liburuak, whose geeky friends buy all sorts of gadgets, did a survey of those who have reading habits similar to mine (i.e. those who actually read entire books for pleasure). “Buy it”, they said. “Don’t even doubt it.”
So my attitude has slowly been softening. The thing is, I don’t think I’m going to stop buying books. I love them too much. IKEA, who decided to re-format ubiquitous bookshelf Billy’s measurements “because nobody reads books any more, so they don’t need a bookshelf” (or something along those lines), you are wrong. Of course, at this time it’s impossible to predict what my reading habits will look like once I succumb to the Call of the Kindle.
But I have taken a resolution. Once I’ve bought the Kindle, any book that I buy as a paper copy will come from independent bookshop rather than a chain store. Let’s see if I can keep this one up. Some factors working against me are:
- I live in Germany and small bookshops tend not to be great on foreign language (especially Spanish) sections. I’m going to have to resort to specialised shops that might be far away, or find one that is happy to order in for me.
- Independent bookstores have opening hours that majorly clash with my working schedule, as I don’t often leave the office before 6pm. I suppose this is what weekends are for.
- Chain bookshops at train stations, airports, etc. are just so tempting
So there you have it. What do you think? Do you own a Kindle or other e-reader? How have your reading habits changed since you got it?
As always, I’m excited to hear your thoughts!