To clarify, this is about my feelings toward the Kindle as an e-reader, not as a tablet. I love the Kindle as a tablet, so much so that I’d buy one over an iPad, which is high praise from someone who likes Apple products. Anyway, this post covers my feelings about the e-reader function of the Kindle, and how I simultaneously love and hate e-books.
There are a lot of reasons to love an e-reader, but the big ones for me personally are library access and book mobility. I love that I can borrow e-books from my local library and download them straight to my Kindle. My library doesn’t yet have a large selection of e-books to borrow, but they are adding more and most of the newly published books are available in electronic form. The kids and I try to make it to the library at least once a month so in theory I could borrow physical books from the library. But let’s face it, a leisurely stroll to browse for books isn’t exactly how it works when you bring little kids. A library trip with the kids means being in the Children’s section, wading through the huge, poorly-organized selection of mediocre-to-terrible children’s literature in hopes of finding one or two great books, all while trying to keep track of the kids as they play with the toys so covered with germs you can nearly see them if you squint. Add in the constant stress of wondering how you should react to that one kid who is always there yelling, pushing the smaller kids, and grabbing toys, while his parent is nowhere in sight. After an hour of this, you leave the library with tired, germ-covered kids, a stack of hopefully-not-terrible board books, and a headache, but not a single book for yourself. Tell me I’m not the only one whose library trips look like this!
So, I like borrowing library books without having to actually go to the library. My other favorite thing about my Kindle is being able to read anywhere. I can take my Kindle (or just the Kindle app on my phone) and have an actual book to read instead mindlessly paging through the magazines at the doctor’s office. I can read in bed without needing to turn on the room light. I like being able to easily enjoy a few pages of my book here and there in the snatches of blank time.
But I have some issues with e-books as well. For one thing, I just love physical books. There is something magical about beautiful cover art, an intriguing back-cover summary, and the whoosh of fanning the pages. I love the look of bookshelves filled with books of all colors and sizes, and a digital collection of cover art just can’t match that. I am absolutely a compulsive book preserver, and I like the challenge of making in through an entire book without breaking the spine or dog-earing the pages. Plus, physical bookmarks are a whole category of bookish fun in and of themselves. Marking your place with a bookmark covered in text from another book = book-ception!
But my biggest issue with e-books is this: you can’t lend them. An important measure of the depth of a friendship is the ability to say, “I just finished this book and loved it, would you like to borrow it?” This is especially true for book preservers like me who must trust that the book will be returned in good condition. There is something special about two people enjoying the same story from the same physical source that just can’t be matched by a Goodreads recommendation or an Amazon gift card.
So while I will enjoy reading library books on my Kindle, and attempt to broaden my knowledge of the classics through project Gutenberg freebies, I will never be a true e-book convert. The books I love will be part of our physical home library (sometimes in multiples if there are just too many beautiful editions to choose from), preserved and displayed, and ready to be borrowed and enjoyed by family and friends.
How do you feel about e-readers?