Those who read this blog regularly will know that I have been ambivalent – to say the least – about the rise in reading on kindles and the like. And I still prefer reading an actual paper book. Especially a second hand book where you can romantically imagine all the other eyes that have feasted on the very same words. There is no better place, in my mind, than a second hand bookshop. And there is nothing romantic about the kindle.
I’ve had my kindle for about eight months now and it has taken that long to get used to. One of the first things I did was buy a cover for it so that it was a little bit more like holding a book in my hands. Even so, it is different looking at a screen for a length of time rather than a page. Not particularly better or worse, just different.
The kindle has changed my reading habits for the better. Because so many books are so cheap, I have experimented much more and as a result, I have read a lot of new authors – Josh Lanyon, Michael Faber, Charles Todd, Brandon Shire, for example – which I might not have discovered in a book shop.
Also I have read more classics than I would normally. I always say I’m not really a classics fan – and I think the majority of my reading will always be contemporary fiction – but as they are often free, I’m much more willing to take a chance and have read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and Forster’s Where Angels Fear To Tread so far this year, all of which were very enjoyable.
(Actually, the kindle can’t take all the credit. I’ve started to use the recommendations on Goodreades when I’m choosing the next book I read on the kindle and this has proved very useful.)
There are still things that I find annoying about the kindle. This nonsense about the percentage that you have read. To me, that is meaningless. I like to know how many pages I have left to read but being up to 79% through a book, that could mean anything depending how long the book actually is. Of course, you can make some judgements by how quickly the percentage changes but it is not the same as moving physically through a book or as being able to work it out with page numbers.
Also, if you want to check something back in the book, that is more difficult as you have to turn past every page you have read so I don’t bother which sometimes leaves me a little confused.
Minor quibbles though. In fact, I’d definitely miss the kindle if I didn’t have it now and it is my constant companion on the journey to and from work on the tram. It might never replace reading actual books – for me anyway – but it is an alternative that I have definitely come to terms with.