It’s possible to fall head over heels in love with an inanimate object. I know, because I did. The first time I held a Kindle in my hands, I was smitten by it. I had nearly every book available to me at one swipe, one tap of the thumb. Every book available to man was accessible in a device lighter than a single hardcover book! At less than a pound, the Kindle held the world. And I had the world at my fingertips.
My relationship with my Kindle really began to flourish when I discovered that the Kindle offered a list of free books. Yes, all free. No catch. The list was limited to classics for the most part, but I didn’t mind – after all, they were free!
Tap, swipe, tap. My Kindle account filled with Fitzgeralds and Austens and the occasional Twain – I downloaded 30 books at least. It was like a successful library haul, but faster and twice as convenient. I even downloaded multiple versions of the English dictionary, just because I could.
And then out of the blue, tragedy struck – my beloved Kindle broke. One day, it simply refused to turn on. Just like that, my dearest companion – the love of my life – abandoned me.
And so, though I planned to purchase a new Kindle eventually, I returned to reading print copies. At first, I thought it a nuisance. How could I ever return to the archaic form of reading after partaking in all the conveniency of the glorious Kindle? But in picking up a printed copy once more, I remembered how inexplicably comforting it feels to hold a book in my hands.
Gradually, I redeveloped my appreciation and respect for tangible copies of books – for the texture of the page, the smell of aged pages, the ability to write in the margins and add comments and stars between the lines. Sure, I could “add a comment” in the Kindle, but the experience was different. Writing on a page – pen in hand – felt much more genuine, more fulfilling, less robotic. I felt like I was having an intimate relationship with the story again. And the experience of closing the back cover on the last page was much more distinct, satisfying, and pleasurable than pressing the back arrow button on a screen.
I did end up buying a new Kindle. But in rediscovering the beauty of printed books, I began to see the Kindle’s flaws, which all at once seemed more pertinent than its positives… The battery drained quickly, for example. The lighting had a mind of its own. The screen wasn’t responsive to my touch when I swiped or tapped. As I sweated over the small, yet cumbersome, technological problems, I began to wonder if the cons actually outweighed the pros in the long run.
The real reason I wanted a Kindle in the first place was to have greater access to reading material, but once I’d gotten through my list of “free” books, I was back to buying again. So I ordered ebooks online, but all I felt from the online purchase was the pang of spending money. The satisfaction of shuffling through a store, finding and picking out a book, and carrying the copy out of the store in a shiny plastic bag was gone. Though twice as inconvenient, buying books the hard way was more fun. And so I decided in the end that I preferred the hard way, and my Kindle has since become a tool for internet browsing, rather than my go-to library.
To clarify, I am in no way trying to bash on the Kindle – I admit that it is a revolutionary invention. Not only is it convenient, cost-effective, and multi-functional, it’s also saving quite a few trees. I bet many people prefer it, especially those looking to save shelf space and a few extra bucks per book. I, on the other hand, prefer a more adequate expression of my literary journey. So it’s back to inconvenient library and bookstore excursions for me.
(You also can’t read a Kindle in a bathtub, which is reason enough to keep reading in-print copies for good.)