Monday, March 10, 2014

A Reader's Response to an Anti-Kindle Web Comic

A well-meaning former High School teacher posted a webcomic in which a Kindle 'threatens' to burn a book and explains how much better the Kindle is than mere paper. The book then 'taps' the Kindle's off switch, thus 'proving' that paper is better.

I see this sort of thing a lot: people unwilling to give up the delightful 'smell' of their paper books acting as though eBooks wish to pull a Fahrenheit 451 on their beloved hard-and-soft covers. I don't understand this mindset at all. One of the follow up comments pointed out how 'I prefer paper because you can actually lend your books to friends.'

This is the response (probably inappropriately heated) I posted:

I have books and Kindle books and I find the animosity of people who refuse to entertain the notion of electronic books towards the new technology off-putting. Nobody is trying to burn down books. The idea that electronic books are trying to destroy traditional books is inaccurate. You can loan Kindle books, by the way. 

I love my shelves and shelves and shelves of books too. I also love carrying around that many books on my phone, able to read at a moment's notice if I am stuck in an unexpectedly long line, or wherever I happen to be. I like knowing that the authors are getting a larger percentage of the money than if I bought a nice-smelling paper book, and I like knowing that I can choose to buy a book in whatever format best suits my needs as a reader. I usually buy new favorites in both paper and Kindle format. 

I have done most of my reading on electronic formats in the last few years, though, and as someone who read over 200 books last year and already 43 since Jan first, (not counting the five giant books I have re-read in that time) I can easily say that I enjoy the act of actual reading in whatever form I can get it. 

Finally, the 'sacredness' of text being on paper ignores the fact that 9 times out of 10, a book to be released since the 80s was 'on a screen' when the author composed it. 

I also never see readers of eBooks posting inflammatory and misguided diatribes against paper books. Which is fine. I wish 'enthusiasts' of paper books would extend the same courtesy to their more open-minded reading brethren.


  1. If you only stick to "real" books then you miss out on the wide variety and creativity going on in the indie market, which is often ebook only. You're limiting yourself to what some one else thinks is worth reading rather than making the choice for yourself.

  2. I find it worrying it's a teacher with that attitude. It's hard enough to get people--and kids in particular--to read, telling them that one avenue of reading somehow isn't good enough seems... well, weird.

    I've got a Kindle (and quite a lot of other things with screens too), but it didn't stop me from walking out of Waterstones last Saturday with five new paperbacks. I've only bought one new book in the last 12 months that had a genuine sniff-me-sniff-me smell too (I'm disappointed the sequel doesn't have the same smell), so even that argument goes out the window... Perhaps what people really need is the "Paper Passion" perfume by Steidl to spray on their ereaders, if that's all they miss about paperbacks?

    1. Oh my gosh, that is a thing!? I was going to say that it absolutely need to be made and then I googled it. And it is real! Wow, A+ to Paper Passion. I'm going to spray my whole house and live in a book.

    2. I admit I'd be really tempted to spray my Kindle and case, and if anyone complained about "new book smell" I'd force them to smell it.

      That somehow sounds really wrong, doesn't it?

  3. I love both. For reading in bed there is nothing like my Kindle.

  4. If given the choice, I still chose paper. I like my books. But, at the same time, I simply cannot imagine life without my Kindle. While I love paper, I also love being able to carry my library with me, without having to hire a moving company. Not to mention all the great titles not available in print I read. I'm one of those weird people who buy a paper copy to stick on the shelf and a Kindle copy to read. I do the same with music, buying the CD and the Itunes version.

    I believe for most readers paper and digital go hand in hand, making for an even more enjoyable experience.

  5. I read both (and epubs and pdfs), and I don't think they threaten each other. My biggest gripe about Kindle is that you can *loan* books, as you say, but you can't *give* them. You can gift, sure, I can buy a book for you, but once I've read, say, the new Stephen King and I don't plan on reading it again, I can't give it to my friend or family member for keepsies, as I can and often do give away my paper books. It's restrictive and regressive and just dumb; I can't count the number of times I've given a new Dan Simmons or Joe Lansdale of Peter Cline (in paper) to somebody, and they've then gone out and bought other, many Simmonses or Lansdales or Clines. Durrr...

  6. I like stories in pretty much all forms and shapes. Whether people tell them to me, or I see them on TV or read them (either book or e-book). There is something special about "real" books though... I collect signed copies or my favorite books, and somehow a signed copy of a Kindle edition on my e-reader isn't quite the same....