Sunday, 8 July 2012

You can't sniff a Kindle!

  "I know every book of mine by it's smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things." George Robert Gissing

 The above marvellous quote is clear evidence that e readers can never replace books. So there.
I mean, you just can't sniff a Kindle can you? It's plastic and metal and holds no memories in it's circuits.
Nor can you touch them. Or stroke them. Or perform other weird obsessy booky behaviour that should probably remain private between me and my shelves.
Nor can you pass them onto a friend or give to a charity shop or a jumble sale thereby allowing others to enjoy the story - I love giving my books many lifetimes, each of which  will imbue it's pages with character and memories and the unmistakable smell of a well loved book.

Now before you imagine I'm talking without experiencing the marvel of technology that is an e reader, let me tell you that I downloaded the kindle app on to my tablet and downloaded some books a couple of months ago. So I'm not talking out of my bottom, I have tried both and I unreservedly choose books books books.
But to be fair I must admit a couple of points that I liked about the kindle:

1. I loved being able to choose a book from amazon and having it on my kindle to read a minute later, no delivery times, no trips to the book shop.

2. I liked the fact you could carry a hundred books around with you at all times, giving choice and functionality.

But there were many more points that I didn't like:

1. No idea how long a book is or how far through it you are - very annoying.

2. Not being able to skip back through the pages to confirm a point or refresh my memory - not without lots of tedious finger flicking anyway.

3. No power = No reading.

4. It's just not the same experience, it doesn't feel the same, reading words on a screen is a totally different feel to reading them off of a page and far less enjoyable.

5. And don't get me started on the environmental impact of millions of unnecessary electronic devices being used, creating a huge drain on energy not to mention the fact they'll all end up in landfill sites in India in five or ten years.
 And the argument about books killing trees is pretty poor seeing as trees are a sustainable resource, so as long as publishers use an ethical supplier there is no long term impact on the planet AND books can be reused for years and if they are eventually thrown away they can be recycled or will simply biodegrade - a point that can't be made about electronics.

6.I just don't see the point of them.
 Why are we trying to fix something that is not broken?
 Why are we changing the way we read?
I know we can. I know we have the technology but is it necessary? Does everything we own
need to have a power supply? At one point books were what you did to make a change from the t.v or computer but now we're lumping them all in together so that even when we're reading we're staring at a screen and using feels like a form of madness, progress for no reason and I wonder, in my darkest hours, in a world running out of natural resources, exactly where it will all lead....?

A suitably spooky ending I think.
 Looking forward to hearing what you think. Am I a lone voice in the wilderness? Or does anyone out there feel the same way?


  1. Yup, I'm pretty much torn like you are with the for/against arguments. But I've never tried a Kindle, or even another tablet, so I don't *really* know yet. I'd be very interested to try one.

    1. Well I'm glad I tried it for free by downloading the app. £80 for a gadget? Just think of all the lovely books you could buy for that!

  2. I like that a kindle lets me keep more books (I have limited shelf space), but you're so right about that booky smell being missing.

    1. No doubt they'll invent a special spray soon to mimic the scent of books and you'll be able to waft it about while reading your screen...
      (praying that never comes true!)

  3. Too late - it's happened! I mean the book smelly thing ... saw some kind of e-reader being sold recently with three varieties of smell to choose from. Can't remember the choices now, but something along the lines of 'old and musty' and - ? ... 'fresh off the press', I suppose ...

    I've had moments of thinking I might succumb to the temptations of an e-reader, and feel tempted by exactly the things you describe in your piece ... but let's face it, if I don't have books to fill my shelves, how will people know how clever and well-read I am??

  4. Well exactly Larisa!
    And as for the smell thing I have to say I'm not surprised but am deeply traumatised...Lx