As this image from GottaBeMobile illustrates, there’s a lot backlash in the realm of book readers.
It was almost a year ago that I jumped on the Kindle bandwagon thinking one thing, while the other thing (that which shall be explained) never crossed my mind.
Until now. Well, not just now. I admit, I’ve been slow to my remorse. The strange occurence last year of Amazon deleting books by (no joke) George Orwell, including 1984, should have been a clue. But here I simply offer a meager list of reasons I liked the Kindle when I bought it, and then a list of reasons why, frankly, it sucks.
Why It Was Awesome:
1. The Cost. Being an avid reader, I could search the world over and not find books this cheap, and that means dollars in my pocket for more important things like stromboli and skydiving. A hardcover new release like Stephen King’s Under the Dome costs 25-30 dollars. $10 on Kindle. Over time, this savings, plus the gas money to drive to the bookstores, pays for the device.
2. The Download. 3G networks and the like are cutting edge technology, and it’s ultra-convenient to be anywhere, say your garage, or being dangled from a building by a mobster, and be able to order a book. Presto! It’s there, and ready for your perusal in seconds. That’s cool. It’s almost a magic feeling to have the power to make something appear before your eyes.
3. The Ease. I like to read while I’m eating. The Kindle was the answer to always having to find some impromptu weight to hold my book open so I can simultaneously digest Neil Gaiman while horking down a Spicy Italian. I hated getting mustard on my pages; now I’d just get a smudge on the Next Page button, and it wipes off easily!
4. The Free Stuff. Aside from having tons of free downloads available by indy writers and such, there’s the Preview feature in the Kindle Store. You can preview any book, usually the first chapter. It’s the reason I decided against buying The Lost Symbol.
Why It Sucks:
1. Well, that whole thing about them coming and taking books away from people after a sale was final… that’s messed up.
2. The Interface. Not as cool as it seems. the Off switch requires me to hold it for six seconds, the interface cursor is slow as hell, handling the tablet tends to result in inadvertent page turns, and the dictionary that’s built in doesn’t recognize the word “Facebook.” (Okay I made that last part up.)
3. Typographical Errors Galore. It’s terrible to be in the middle of a passage you really like, and then see a double “the,” or other wrenching editorial error a true publisher would hang somebody over. Most hilarious of this Kindle tendency is when I was reading Chuck Klosterman, and the whole chapter devoted to Rick Allen – of Def Leppard- incorrectly spelled his last name as Alien.
4. The Feel of a BOOK. Yeah, one of the first people I bragged to about my purchase sang this true tune~ there’s just something about a book. The paging process that so happily engages the fingers and thumbs of millions daily. The ability to thumb back a few pages and easily find a passage you wanted to re-read. That’s like, yeah/no with a Kindle. And footnotes are a pain in the ass. If there is one thing to say about this aspect, it’s this: I can’t loan a Kindle book to a friend. Of course, I could loan my Kindle, but then I’d be without my whole library for however long it took them to read the book I loaned them.
5. The Future. I can’t imagine a young person growing up without some kind of bookshelf/collection that tells others who see it what this person’s reading. It’s a key and sublime element of our interaction. If everyone’s books were hidden behind clicks of buttons, and scrolling of wheels, that magic would be lost forever. I’d also like to defer to point #3 in the Awesome section, and call bullsh*t on myself. Reading should be enjoyable, yes, but if you put work into it, it’s even more rewarding. And I don’t mean work like trying to balance a tablet on your steering wheel while you drive.
6. Lifespan. What happens when the battery needs to be replaced? Besides, there’s another huge risk here; people drop stuff. Even the most careful and mindful people drop stuff from time to time. I made the mistake of momentarily setting my Kindle on the hood of my vehicle. It slid off, and although I was able to make a close enough grab to slow its descent, it ended up looking like this (the now-useless battery indicator is always there, taunting me.):
I’ll still use it for the freebies, and to research authors. But… sorry, trees… I’m going back to paper books for future purchases.