Last fall, after hearing many people discuss the Kindle for many months and after owning a Sony Reader for a couple of years, I decided to purchase several Kindles for our staff. It seemed to me that the Kindle was more versatile than the Reader and I was excited to begin using it.
Now, it is six months later and I have been reading both books and manuscripts on my Kindle. There is no question in my mind that it is far more versatile than the Reader and, when I am traveling, as I have been quite a bit for the last six months, there is nothing more convenient than the Kindle.
Over the last several weeks, though, I have been reading Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, and while I was doing so, I kept wondering why I wasn’t loving it as much as many of my colleagues had. I finished the book the other night and all of a sudden I realized that the reason I hadn’t gotten the same pleasure out of reading it as everyone else at DGLM had was because I wasn’t reading an actual book—I was reading it on the Kindle. Let the Great World Spin is, first of all, a beautifully designed book with a gorgeous jacket; there is no way to tell this on the Kindle. It is also a story that makes the reader want to dip back and forth to re-read certain passages and this is all but impossible to do on the Kindle. In addition, because there are no page numbers on the Kindle (all one can tell is the percent of the book one has already read), there is no way to know how to reference page numbers. Ultimately, even though I enjoyed the book I believe it would have been a far more pleasurable reading experience had I had a print copy of the book.
Then, recently during a meeting in our office, one of my colleagues was describing her experience reading The Help. She mentioned that it felt like a really long book. I was surprised to hear this. In fact, I had read the book last December and had no sense of how long it was—none at all—because I had read it on the Kindle.
There are so many different opinions about what reading on a Kindle is like. My doctor, who only reads on the Kindle, has to go buy the actual book when he is writing a paper and needs to cite a page. There are those who say they really miss the “feel” of an actual book when they are reading on the Kindle; and then there are those who say that the iPad is better than all the other devices.
I’d like to believe that, in time, much will change technologically with these electronic readers and I think that, ultimately, they will increase the number of readers over all. I would also like to believe that old fashioned books will never disappear entirely; they offer too much comfort to many of us who love physical books. Reading a book electronically simply does not offer the same kind of pleasure in my opinion as reading it in hard copy.
So now I would love to know what you think?