Rejecting the Kindle: Why I Still Need Real Books

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon

Having been both an avid reader and a fan of technology most of my life, it would seem that jumping on the e-reader bandwagon would be a no-brainer for me. I’ve worked in technology for more than 20 years and have embraced it all the way. Between all of us, my family owns five Mac laptops, four iPhones, a desktop Mac, an iPad and a PC (only because I have to for work). We all use a variety of social media and applications including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In other words, there is no technology resistance around these parts.And yet, I just can’t seem to bring myself to make the jump to e-readers.

I figured that owning the iPad would bridge that gap. I wouldn’t have to switch to purchase a reading-specific device like the Kindle; with the iPad, I could use all of my familiar applications and start making the transition to downloading and reading books on that beautiful device. I’ve tried it exactly twice and while I did manage to finish the two books I downloaded, the experience left me…well, cold.

There’s something about the feel of a book, the smell of the paper – whether it’s bookstore-new or an old classic that has been handed down and sitting on a shelf for years. The weight of a the hard cover, the examination of the artwork, the reading of the inside flaps and back-of-book blurbs. Even paperbacks have a charm totally lacking from the sterile screen of its e-reader cousins.

I can’t quite give up the thrill of browsing a bookstore and picking up each title, trying to decide which one to read.  I still love having my own library of books at home, browsing the shelves that hold both new and old. My worn copy of  Gone with the Wind, spine still intact, but pages yellowing, brings back memories of learning to love books at the ripe age of 10. My collection of used paperback classics with their highlighted passages and folded corners recall hours spent in Royce Hall classrooms and Powell library, dissecting characters, motivations and themes. Each spine on the shelf  represents not just the story contained within, but a story that is uniquely mine.  I can’t quite get that same feeling from a collection of electronic files residing on a mobile device.

I know, I know…the Kindle and its ilk are the future. It’s great for traveling, you can pop it conveniently into your purse or bag and take it anywhere. If someone gives you a great tip on a new book, there’s no ordering from Amazon or driving to the Barnes & Noble or heading to the library to see if it’s available – in just a few clicks, it’s all yours. Immediate gratification.

I guess in this world of fast-paced, 24×7, mobile and always-on living, it seems silly or quaint to want to curl up on the couch with an old-fashioned book. And I’m sure eventually, the e-reader will win me over. For now, I have a stack of books to turn to, each one ready to tell me a story. So call me old-fashioned. Or call me Ishmael. I’m just going to keep turning real pages for now.

4 thoughts on “Rejecting the Kindle: Why I Still Need Real Books

  1. Working at a library I often get asked questions about eReader technology. Everything from “Is it worth it” to “What’s the difference” and even the occasional “Why would you get a/an _”.

    I LOVE physical or “real” books and there’s no way I’ll be changing over to solely eBook formats ANY time soon, but I bought a Nook Tablet eReader. I enjoy reading on my Nook, but I will not give up physical books. One of the main reasons I bought the Nook is because I wanted an eReader because they can carry several different books while weighing less than several of the books I have a tendency to read.

    The best thing for me is that the vehicle I drive isn’t always the most reliable (it has a tendency to not start up) so I often carry only one physical book, but if the vehicle doesn’t start I’m pretty well stranded and if I only have one book what happens when I finish it? With any eReader I feel safer because I know I’ll have many things I can read and even some apps I can play with (due to being stranded for a number of hours I ended up finding a car charger after both finishing a physical book AND my Nook running out of battery power).

    If you switch to an eReader you switch, if you don’t then you don’t. If you use a library they’ll be glad you’re still checking out physical books, I’m sure and if there are questions they might be able to help you with some of that.

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    1. You make some very good points and arguments for going with an e-reader. Maybe there will eventually be a place in my life for both, but like you, I am not prepared to get rid of “real” books anytime soon!

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  2. I feel the same way. I love highlighting and folding down pages. I know you can highlight on an e-reader but it just isn’t the same. I love going to my bookshelves and pulling down an old favorite. I too have an old copy of Gone with the Wind. It was my great grandmother’s. Library books have that pleasant rustling of protective plastic when you open them. There is more satisfaction in finishing a real book too because you’ve seen progress as your bookmark moved from beginning pages to the very end. I made sure there were plenty of bookshelves in my new office. I feel so comfortable surrounded by books.

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    1. Yes, I agree, Brenna. There’s some sort of comfort level for me, as well, when I’m surrounded by books. I remember when I was about four years old, my Mom snapped a picture of me on our living room couch. I was surrounded by every book I owned, having carried each and every one of them to the couch and piled them around me, I guess, thinking I was going to read them all? Or maybe just count how many I owned? I’m not sure what my little girl reasoning was, but regardless, that memory stands out for me because it shows how much I valued and loved books even at a very young age.

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