Oh, Kindle, how do I hate you? Let me count the ways…

It may be progress, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. The Daily Shift‘s April Barry takes a look at the dreaded e-book…

Oh, Kindle, how do I hate you? Let me count* the ways…

Kindles. iBooks. Electro-readers (I know they’re called e-readers, but humour me here, the term electro-readers goes with the general awry-with-technology grumpy grumblings of this post). They all have one thing, and one thing only in common as far as I’m concerned: ugh.

Can you guess that I don’t have/want/need/aspire to having one?

Just ugh.

I know they’re (sort of) eco-friendly [insomuch as something which is, in all possibility, manufactured by an impoverished sweatshop worker, thousands of miles away, then shipped here, clocking up mile after mile of carbon footprint, and, just generally being immoral and all, can be]. But, hey, if it saves a tree… I know less forests are felled due to electro-readers. I’m aware that it opens up a world of literature, at gobsmack-me rock bottom, bargain-licious prices.

I realise that it’s an awesome way for an unestablished writer to gain some foothold in the literary jungle that is the wild world of publishing. And, I’m not so un-hip that I don’t understand that they’re new (well, newer than books, older than… mystery, yet-to-be-introduced iPhone 1000s…), and that all the cool kids, along with sporting strange bit-buzz cuts jauntily juxtaposed against their otherwise long and lustrous locks; like everything to be technology-ey, and plug-in-able, and touch screen enabled, and 3G wifi (and all the rest) accessible. I get it. I had a wireless when I was your age too (okay, walkman, followed swiftly by a CD player). And by all means –  you have my permission – make your music as minute as possible, and as carry-about-able as earthly attainable. There’s no need to carry a load when it’s a lyrical one. But books, my dears, are a whole ‘nother (library) matter…

You see, I’m of the firm persuasion that you should be able to see books – i.e. that they are actual, visible 3D objects, in and of themselves. Not just some silly file on some mad piece of machine gadgetry. You should be able to thumb through them, to make notes on them, to spy strange and sometimes ambiguous coffee, tea, and general caffeine cup stains within their pages. You should be able to feel their cool weight in your hand (have you ever met a warm book?!). You should be able to smell them, that lovely, cannot-be-replicated book-ish smell that you get from books and only books. (I mean, you don’t see electro-readers sniffing all up in their electro-books now, do you?)

You should be able to fold them, and make creases, and mark important pages, and passages. You should be able to slip a bookmark in between the pretty pages.  You should be able to take note of how battered (or not) the book’s spine is, and fold pages over accordingly, in relation to how much TLC your oh-so-brilliant book requires. You should be able to ponder through page after page, finding where you read last, seeing all manner of lovely printed words along the way.

In short, there ain’t no bibliophile ever who curled up with an electronic book reader like they would a book.

Okay, well maybe there is (I like to think that these ‘renegades’ are 50 Shades of Grey readers) but they’re so cold, and so electronically sterile, that’s there’s no way a true bibliophile would.

Probably the only time I could actually condone use of an electro-reader is if you’re actually reading 50 Shades of Grey. But, seriously, it’s almost a mark of kudos-come-honour (in some circles) at this stage — you’re one of the cool ‘in’ kids, so why not own it, and flaunt your pseudo-bondage (mightn’t be an exact description, but I’m hell as not actually reading what originated as Twilight fan fiction, allegedly) porn-lite with style. In the form of paper and ink.

And for fuck sake, don’t come near me with either the electro-reader or the tomes, in book form or otherwise.

*Not really count. You may have noticed, this piece does not contain any numbers. But, they are listed. And I trust that The Daily Shift readers are super-smart, so can count all the many ways featured if they so wish.

I’m over on Twitter, hating all things newfangled-ey. However, I have managed to make that there ‘Twitter’ word back there clickable. So click, and join me in the hatred of all things non-book-y, over yonder on ye olde Twitters.

*Lead image via Wikimedia Commons

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About April Barry

April Barry, if you haven't already guessed from the cartoon profile picture, is a pen name. This pen name comes partly from a childhood obsession with reporter April in The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and partly from... well... we'll leave that bit until I know you a tad better. Don't judge --- April was a journalist-type person, with almost unfettered access to pizza; plus she was friends with giant, fantastically effervescently green turtles, who managed to sport omnipresent masks, and still look sorta snazzy. And Anna Wintour assures me that yellow jumpsuits are most certainly back in vogue. Forever obsession: Brian Molko. Also, ever so slightly obsessed with all things showbiz and celebrity. If I had to look like any cartoon picture, it would be my profile picture. Feel free to tweet me up a storm: http://www.twitter.com/aprilbarry101

13 comments on “Oh, Kindle, how do I hate you? Let me count the ways…

  1. Bless! No I know, I’m not the only one. Couldn’t agree more with you on the points you make. I was recently on a business trip, trying to read from an ipad. After 40 pages, I walked into a bookshop and bought an actual book!

  2. And clearly I meant, now I know…

  3. Oh, that sounds horrific! Yeuch! I am so glad you found sanity in the book bookshop — for surely these electro-readers are madness! Thank you for the comment, and also — fab hair!

  4. Ahem, just bookshop, not book bookshop!

  5. I agree with the whole thing of the feel and smell of the book and being able to ponder on why a previous owner may have scrawled something unreadable on the inside or where those coffee stains came from, but I also do have a Kindle, I find it is alot handier to lug around than three or four big heavy books, especially on holiday as I read more than one book at a time, it’s just due to sheer handiness that I have one, I still love the feel and smell of a book, just its handier for me rather than lugging numerous books around :)

  6. [...] This was originally published on August 8, 2012, and can be seen, in edited form, here. [...]

  7. No. That won’t do. It is never acceptable to carry an e-book. Especially on holiday. That’s how my wife succumbed to mobile/cell phones: “It’ll be useful to have in the car if I break down or have an accident”. Now she sits by the fire, I try to talk but get buried under a blizzard of clicks and bleeps; two thousand ‘words’ a minute text-talk. If she was on the phone, talking, at least I’d know who she was talking to. I’d listen to at least one half of a conversation. I’d feel a little incuded.

    This is how technology drags you down to it’s murky, subterranean depths. It smiles it’s shiney, helpful smile and before you know it your crop-yield has tripled but your stuck behind a plough all day and the taxman takes the surplus anyway.

    So remember. There is more to buying music than hearing the song (the sleeve design, the quirky thank you notes to mysterious chaps called ‘Big Moon Vince’ and the sheer, shivering pleasure of sliding a new vinyl record from it’s static-hugging paper sleeve), more to grocery shopping than eating the food (the friendly cheesemonger who lets you taste a dozen samples and tells you the secrets of a perfect Parmesan or the odd little shop that sells nothing you need but smells like old leather and mushrooms) and more to books than just the story.

    I have a little girl of seven and she knows the value of sniffing books and feeling their weight resting on her feet at the bottom of the bed. I hope she’s not the last generation to do so, otherwise there’ll be no more libraries to envelop you in musty silence and hidden jewels in rows of multi-coloured hardbacks, no more untidy shelves, crammed with books that warm the room and shiver the spine, and never again will we be able to judge a book by its cover or the person on the bus by their choice of novel.

    So next time you go on holiday take some proper books. They may weigh a few more pounds but they’re worth every ounce of ink.

  8. Thank you, Jessica.
    Yesterday (2/1/13) was my birthday. When I awake tomorrow (or rather, later today!) I shall take my €100 Waterstone gift voucher and spend several hours choosing €140 worth of heavy, smelly fiction (I always over-spend).
    I will only stop when my feet have tired of standing, and my arms have wearied of carrying.
    I shall then find a quiet pub, stack them all up on my table and spend another hour leafing through them deciding in which order I shall read them.
    That will be a pleasure and a joy no cheerless kindle could ever hope to match.
    To paper, ink and the smell of a good Penguin!

    • Well happy birthday, and that sounds like the perfect way to spend a few hours tomorrow! I myself have a large collection of very old, very lovely books. I collect them. Some of them are over a century old. I haven’t even read all of them, but I love to look at them and read the dedications that were written to family members on Christmas Day 1849, or a birthday in 1906. They are some of my prized possessions. On a kindle, certainly, you can buy a book that was published in 1849. In fact, all the old classics are free. I have a kindle myself (the battery has been dead for about 6 months now because I don’t use it) and on it I have a large collection of classics. But rather than select an 1849 classic from my electronic kindle, I prefer to walk to my book shelf and pick up the hardback there, and flick through the pages. Who knows how many other people have done exactly that over the past few years. You can’t appreciate the age of a novel or a book unless you have an old edition and a kindle will never, ever give you that.

  9. That’s so heart-warming. What a splendid interest. I have very few old editions, but I do cherish an old library edition of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ with numerous notes scribbled in the margin by a rather zealous (and unknown) aspiring revolutionary. I sometimes worry what became of him or her as the anonymous scribbler’s admirable convictions don’t appear to have extended to returning the book. It was due back in 1963.

  10. Sorry, I appear to have a different image accompany my comment above.
    Being a Luddite of some infamy, I have no idea how to remedy this.

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