Sunday, May 08, 2011

Kindle Despise

Anthony Burgess once said owning a book is as good as reading it, which, according to the best-selling book Freakonomics is true, as studies have shown that merely having books in the house is as good for your child as actually reading them a book.

The death of the physical book has been predicted for years, and though Amazon like to say their Kindle is the best-selling item on Amazon as well as having the most 5-star reviews of any product, I've yet to see more than one in public (though I've seen loads of iPads). Maybe people use them at home or on holiday. Anyway, in theory it's a great idea as people are decluttering their cramped homes and trying to make room for… other crap.

However, being a book lover and collector, it goes without saying that I prefer the physical item of a book, turning the pages, gazing at the cover (if it's good) etc. I own over 600 books, possibly a quarter of which I haven't read, but even if I don't buy another book for the next five years (doubtful, as I buy about one a week), it will probably take me that to read what I already have.

Kindle advertising goes on about how you can store 3,500 books on it. Depending on which source you believe, the average American reads between 1 and 9 books a year, making 3,500 books sound a bit daunting. It's not like with music, where it takes less than an hour to listen to an average album and you make playlists where you choose whatever songs you like. A book will take at least a week to read (some people even take a month), so unless the Kindle employs an equivalent function to iTunes, where you could shuffle pages between different books randomly and employ a kind of William Burroughs' cut-up technique, 3,500 books is pointless (even for an avid reader, it's only possible to read about 3,000 books in a lifetime).

The Kindle works out quite expensive too. After shedding over £100 to buy the thing, you've got to buy the eBooks too, which with the price of the average physical book now pretty cheap (online, half price sales, supermarkets, charity shops) actually works out more expensive than buying the actual book.

I've said many a time how old-fashioned I am, but I do like to have a physical object for my money. I know we tend to only read books the once, but considering the amount of time we spend holding, turning pages and reading a book (hours, months), I think it's good to keep them on the shelf, gaze at the spines and think, yes, I read that (or at least am going to in the near future).

1 comment :

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