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The Call of the Kindle

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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!

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Author: bettinathenomad

Nomadic fan of books, food, the outdoors, and water. International Relations geek. Chlorine is my perfume.

6 thoughts on “The Call of the Kindle

  1. I think that’s a good plan and I have to say, I’ve owned two different ereaders at this point, the Sony and the Kindle. I love my Kindle. I thought I wouldn’t… but I totally do. I remember totally ragging on the Kindle when I had my Sony, but now I’m a convert. Nooks are clunky and Sony’s don’t have the same access to ebooks (though I still use my Sony to read PDF and word documents). I go through phases where I’ll read books on the Kindle and then read only print books. The Kindle definitely hasn’t destroyed my love for printed books. Not at all. I like your plan to buy all your physical books from small, independent book stores.

    • Thank you, Lu! I’m glad to hear you haven’t stopped reading printed books, because this is something I was a bit worried about. As for the plan to buy all physical books from indie shops, we’ll see how it goes (well, I hope!).

  2. I dropped my anti-kindle rhetoric about a month before I moved to Macedonia for my two-year peace corps service. So, right when I realized that I probably wasn’t going to have the good fortune to live down the street from a bookstore stocking English-language books, and that even if I did, earning $200 a month was going to make it hard for me to actually BUY any of those books. It didn’t take much to convert me. I still love holding books, and because I’m moving back to the States in five months there are certain books (the new Nathan Englander collection, for one) that I’ve decided not to read until I can buy the hardback rather than ebook versions. But still, the Kindle has made it possible for me to keep up with recent books, and read according to my tastes rather than those of Americans who did bring some books with them (do I want to read your historical romance novels? no thanks), and carry thousands of books along with me whenever I travel. Whatever I think of Amazon’s business practices, the Kindle is the best. It has seen me through more lonely, potentially book-free days than I could have imagined when I (very skeptically) pulled it out of its box two and a half years ago.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Ellen! I can totally see why it makes sense to buy a Kindle before moving to a relatively remote place like Macedonia (so exciting, by the way! I’m popping over to read your blog about it right now). When I was in France on my voluntary service – this was eight years ago when there were no e-readers around – I had to rely on the books other volunteers brought because I was staying in a really remote place in the French Alps with no bookshop anywhere even remotely close. I really missed being able to read what I wanted.
      I’m also glad to hear that it hasn’t spoiled your love for “real” books and am hoping it’ll be the same for me. I ordered my Kindle yesterday and I’m getting quite excited about it.

      • Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the kindle after you’ve had a few weeks to play around with it!

        I read that the earliest peace corps volunteers were sent to their sites with a trunk of books each. Hearing about this, and the sorts of books that were in the trunks (not always, of course, what they wanted) made me at once sorry that I hadn’t experienced that sort of volunteer service, and grateful that i served in the age of the e-reader. When you’re reading books you wouldn’t pick up if you had more options, you can discover such unexpected gems, whole genres that you want to explore further; but I’m glad I had the option to choose my books.

  3. Pingback: The Call of the Kindle, part deux | Liburuak

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