In an unofficial poll of seven friends at the pub recently, 6/7 respondents said they either feared or loathed Kindle and would never use one (let alone buy one) and the Kindle advocate was made to feel like a pariah – an awkward (and sometimes heated) debate happening across the world every day.
Obviously this isn’t a survey without flaws, even allowing for a skew, but it does demonstrate how divisive the feelings about books and the Kindle (and its ilk) can be.
Us book fans - yes I was one of the 6/7 - are not Luddites. In fact quite the opposite - we border on geekdom when it comes to the latest iPhone release, and get giddy at the prospect of a new video game coming out, but when it comes to the Kindle we worry that this is the beginning of the end where books are concerned – and that strikes fear into every book lovers’ heart.
Of course, the content of the book is crucial, and there’s nothing worse than reading bad writing or a terrible story, but a computer screen can never replace the same sense of physicality and emotion, memories, and sentiment that a book can create.
We’ve all got a few of those well-loved, well worn, dog-eared, oft borrowed books on our shelves that we’ve read over and over again, and wax lyrical about when we become quite aghast at the fact someone has been negligent enough not to have done so too.
I figure the future of books lies with the next generation, so I’ve come up with a cunning plan I think may work, and will hopefully override the domination of the machines. I simply inundate the children of my friends and relatives with my favourite books, so they all have a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where The Wild Things Are, everything by Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss, anything by Judy Blume, the Paul Zindel collection, The Hobbit, The Outsiders and all of S.E. Hinton’s other books, and as they’ve grown older, the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series. Needless to say, their shelves are laden with my memories, but they love them too, and their kids will, and their kids, and so on – and that’s my plan to keep books alive... who’s with me?
Obviously I can see the benefits of a Kindle – they’re light and easy to carry around, you can alter the font to suit your eyesight, you can download books quickly, they're often cheaper than their book counterpart, they’re ideal for travel, and you can read them easily in a howling southerly, but that’s all so sterile, sensible, and safe – it’s Mr Bingley versus Mr Darcy, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read Pride and Prejudice (the book)!
I recently relocated to the UK, and had to cull my book collection. It was very difficult as they were like my children, but I found good homes for them all, so can sleep well at night now.
What are you? Books all the way? Half and half? Or a Kindle zealot?