Randy Greenwald

Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

The Kindle App

Tinkers, reviewed here yesterday, was the first book I’ve ever read completely on an electronic reading device.

Shortly after getting my first ‘smart phone’, an iPhone, this summer, I was shown that I could get a Kindle App for use on the iPhone which opened up to me Amazon’s collection of ebooks, a collection both more extensive and less expensive than that available for the the more elegant iBook app pre-installed on the iPhone.

Though I immediately bought Tinkers which had recently been recommended to me, and a couple of others, I have resisted reading in that format.

Now that I’ve done it, a couple of thoughts.

1) The reading experience was good. After a while, I did not miss the smell of pages and the physical feel of the book in my hands. Once the content took over, the delivery system was not missed.

2) I loved being able to read at night without turning on the light. I found that I could hold the phone and ‘turn’ the pages adeptly with one hand even while lying in bed.

3) I find that I can always have a book at hand. The iPhone is light, fits in my pocket, and goes with me everywhere. (I can’t see what the advantage of the Kindle itself would be over the iPhone for delivering this content.) My pride takes a hit, though. If I’m sitting somewhere waiting for someone, and am staring at my phone, I’d rather people know I’m reading a good book rather than playing “Angry Birds”!

4) On the other hand, I tried to mark passages in Tinkers. It was simply not as quick and easy as with a paper book.

5) And the reason that I cannot see myself ever moving to this method other than for the occasional book is the loss of the library. When I’ve read a book that mattered to me, I like to put it on the shelf. There it lives next to other books which have been a part of my life. At will I can pull it down, flip through some pages, find a passage. I can pick it up and hand it to a friend for them to look at. I’m emotionally bonded to the paper and ink in a way that I never will be to the 1s and 0s.

Ebooks are a great tool. I would gladly receive a Kindle gift certificate any day – for, say, Christmas… :-). But I cannot see it ever surpassing the love affair I have with the hold in your hand variety of books.

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5 Comments

  1. So question: how does point 1) relate to your comments in the two closing paragraphs?

    Thanks for posting these reflections.

    Also, thought these two might be of some interest:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/03/resisting-the-kindle/7345/

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/people-of-the-screen

  2. Oh, probably my own, typical ambivalence.

    I find myself considering for my iPhone/Kindle books that I don’t expect to have a significant attachment to! There is a convenience which I will enjoy, but I cannot see now being drawn to it as a primary means of reading.

    Thanks for the links.

    Randy

  3. Jenny

    Kevin and I tried to read and deep and important non-fiction book on our iPhone Kindles and found ourselves frustrated. Tom Sawyer was no problem, but trying to follow the argument of a thought with only one paragraph on display at a time was somehow disjointing to my brain. It could have simply been a badly written book. I kept wanting to write notes in the margins where I disagreed or agreed with the author. I know that is somehow possible with the app- just very cumbersome.

  4. Precisely. It is possible, but cumbersome. However, I’m reading “The Taming of the Shrew” on it right now, and finding it wonderful. There are so few distractions with footnotes and such. So, I just read. But, yes, there is much I would not read on it. I picked up a real Kindle at Staples just a few minutes ago, and the display is larger and it is very light. Of course, it’s probably heavier once you get a hundred books on it…

  5. TG

    Several friends of ours (especially homeschooling friends) are trying to persuade me that the Kindle or ipad is the way to go — especially for classics. You can get most classics for free in digital form, and then we wouldn’t have to ship them overseas. . . I see the allure, but. . . So hard to let go of the real, physical book, even if it is the ideas inside that give them worth.

    But, along with reading in bed, I’ve been using the youversion Bible app on my phone since Kathryn introduced it to me. Now, when I’m having trouble sleeping, reading the Psalms by phone light is easy and peaceful and doesn’t wake Hubby.

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