It’s not that long since the arrival of the Kindle heralded a new world of books and I can remember hearing about it for the first time. The second I found out that you could buy a small device, load it with a thousand books and fit it in your bag, or large pocket I wanted one.
To me it was a dream come true. I am a very fast reader and I go through a lot of books each year. I don’t necessarily want to keep each book I read, but I do want to read as many books as I can.
From talking to friends I know there are still people out there who not only don’t own a kindle, but who state quite categorically that they will never ever own a kindle, nor will they ever own any kind of eReader.
Pride in being a Luddite is often claimed as though it were a badge of artistic honour, implying that reading from a technical device somehow lessens the appreciation of books.
The reason I most often hear for their determination is that they would miss the feel of books, the smell of books and the sight of the, all lined up on their bookshelves.
I too like the feel, smell and sight of book. In fact I like to arrange them by categories and size. However, I am not sure that all books feel, smell and look good for that long. Usually by the time I’ve finished a book, that papery smell has begun to disappear, the neat shape has changed into something a little wider and looser, and that lovely new look has gone – much the same as happens with many of our possessions once we’ve had them for a while.
I have never felt it necessary to keep every book I ever bought. Before I owned a kindle I would clean out my bookshelves at least once a year and remove the books that I had read and which I knew would never read again.
I never saw the point of keeping them and still don’t. When I was a broke single mum I would buy only second-hand books and then sell them back to the same bookshop to get the money to buy more.
I wouldn’t call myself a philistine. I do appreciate and value books. The books I decide to keep are the ones I know I will read again.
The keepers will have earned their place on my shelves by etching something on my mind. They might have moved me, or taught me something new, excited, or gripped me in some way. The one thing those books have in common is that all of them will have made me think.
For those who boast of their Ludditism the act of getting rid of books may seem like sacrilege, but I don’t see the retaining of old, scruffy books that will never be reread as anything more than the sign of a hoarder.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being a hoarder – as long you have a huge house, an army of cleaners and a great memory so that you can properly treasure and appreciate each and every item in your hoard.
KEEP IT SECRET
In fact, one of the best things about the kindle is that you can become a secret hoarder. You can arrange and rearrange, read, or not read your horde as you wish. The choice is yours and nobody will ever know about your stash, or your secret collection of 50 shades of whatever takes your fancy – unless you choose to tell them.
You can add to your hoard when ever you want. I tend to do this when I am reading the weekend reviews in the newspaper and this brings me to another great thing about the kindle – instant gratification.
You can read a review in the paper, buy that book, start reading it in seconds, all without ever leaving the house – bliss.
Last, but not least, there is the price. Ebooks are cheaper than paperbacks and sometimes considerably so. There are also lots of special offers to be had as the market becomes even more competitive by the day. You don’t even have to risk your money on books that you may not like. You can download a sample, and then judge whether you want to read more or not.
If you are still convinced that this small technical device can never beat the conventional book then there is probably little I could say to convince you.
But in the end it doesn’t matter because whether the words are scratched on caves, written on parchment, paper, or lit behind a screen, what matters the most is the story they tell…