As I am currently devastated to discover a dirty great scratch across my Kindle screen, I thought I would talk about my reading habits. Hanging out with an awesome friend today in a bookshop made me think- is the Kindle going to take over?
I certainly thought so 3 years ago. I was working in a local chain of bookstores that went into a monumental meltdown. It crashed and burned around us all and it seemed hope was lost for books in this country. Luckily, one chain is still going (though it has closed many stores, particularly those in the city) and a few franchises of the company I worked for are still hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Unfortunately, in Australia, new books are just so damned expensive. $25 for a paperback is pretty standard, unless it’s a classic, on clearance or one of the cheap bindings. I don’t even bother with hardcovers unless they’re on special. I bought a whole lot of textbooks while I was in Oxford in March, as they were half the price there than if I bought them here. The prices drive people online. Even when I was working for A&R, I could buy books from Book Depository for cheaper than using my rather generous employee discount. On a retail wage, sometimes that took precedence, especially for a series.
I order most of my books from Amazon (for Kindle), The Book Depository, or I buy second hand. We have an entirely underrated second hand bookstore in my suburb. It is truly like burrowing through piles and piles of books for that one perfect match… It’s a little bit romantic. As soon as you give up on finding anything of substance, you bury yourself in a teetering pile and pull out the one. Today, we were searching for Anna Karenina in a non-movie-cover. We didn’t find it, but that’s half the fun!
Book Depository is a little like that too. You search for one book, but oh, there’s a better cover! And the recommendations! And the recommendations for that recommendation! It’s a huge snowball effect that your bank manager resents as he sends out your 90th “Account Overdrawn” notice. Okay, maybe not that bad. But definitely dangerous.
Amazon is worse again, as everything is just so damned immediate. One click, ka-ching, sync, off you go. Easy as that. I do prefer my iPad for textbooks, as it’s easier to search within the text. Plus Amazon have nearly everything!
I hated the idea of e-books, Amazon and e-readers. Three years ago, they were the bastards who stole my job. I liked that job, damn it! My friends ended up buying me a Kindle for my 21st birthday and changed my mind completely about the whole thing.
When I first got the Kindle, I was mainly using it for reading large books, especially on public transport. 500+ page books are heavy, bulky, take up space in your bag and upset me when they get all smashed from being carried around for so long. The Kindle definitely eliminates these issues- it’s lighter than a paperback, has a case and my books stay pristine on my shelf, which is especially nice when they have a lovely cover. My first Kindle was a keyboard one, which died. I still mourn its demise as I quite liked the page turning buttons on both sides, it felt more tactile. I have a touch screen one now and dislike it immensely, but I’m still upset that it’s been mysteriously maimed. I read books of all different sizes on it now, as I just can’t help myself. It saves me money too, as a paperback can sometimes cost double, particularly if the book is a classic.
Case for Kindle– big books weigh less, fits tons (literally) of books, super fast to start reading something, cheap/free books, rarely needs charging and it’s pretty sleek looking.
Case against Kindle– ruining our precious bookstores, touch screen is a pain in the arse, Amazon seems to be a somewhat evil corporation (but then, aren’t they all??), publisher set prices that just aren’t worth it and they die. Real books will never die unless I leave them out in the rain or set them on fire.
I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of my books. There’s just something about them… Their covers, their smell, the feel of the pages in your hands, the colours and the wonderful feeling of walking into a room full of books and discovering what they are.
They’re pretty special.