Uncollected Thoughts on Eleven Years of the Kindle

It’s not a special anniversary, but LitHub recently posted in one of their daily news round ups that the kindle had launched in 2007. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. In my life, I don’t know that anything else has caused as much hysteria about reading and the state of readership as the kindle has, at least in my lifetime. 

Oszkár Glatz
  1. I wish people would stop giving readers crap for reading anything other than a printed book. I can understand the attractions of a print book, but I am bothered by the way print-only readers fetishize the codex. Perhaps it’s because being a librarian has desensitized me—I see far too many old, worn out, distinctly not rare books for that—but I have long felt that the content is more important than the container. (Unless, of course, we’re talking about beautifully bound books or books with a special provenance.) And, for pity’s sake, leave the audiobook readers alone. 
  2. Although the kindle has made it easier for me personally to get my hands on books that I can’t get from my local libraries or bookstores immediately, I really wish it was easier for libraries and library patrons to easily access ebooks. There are too many hurdles—so many that I steer students at my library away from them because it’s a pain in the ass.
  3. The kindle and other ereaders don’t make it easy enough (for me at least) to do deep reading of texts. I see so many students in literature classes squinting at their phones in an effort to find passages they needed to reference, even though their professor and I have told them that it’s better to use print for this kind of reading. 
  4. I don’t blame the convenience of the kindle for no. 3. We educators just need to make a better effort at teaching students how to do different kinds of reading. The kindle is great for reading for fun. For literary criticism and textual explication? Not so much.
  5. When it comes to my reading, I really like reading on a kindle. I read so much faster with an ebook than with a print book. I joked that I was wasting a lot of time turning the pages, but maybe those seconds really do add up. Not only that, but I really like being able to instantly look things up by touching the words. This more than anything has slightly ruined me for print books. I have to look things up the old-fashioned way when I read print books. ::dramatic sigh::
  6. I’m not sure if it’s the kindle or ebooks in general or something else, but I’ve noticed a lot more typos in books in the last couple of years. At least with a print book, I’d be able to have the satisfaction of writing in a correction.
  7. I worry that I won’t be able to access my kindle library if I take my iPad to anther country and I’m not eager to test this. If I ever do travel abroad, I plan to take a nice thick print book for back up. Perhaps being stranded in a foreign country without reading material might be enough to prompt me to finish War and Peace.

Is there anything that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts about the kindle and ereading in general.

4 thoughts on “Uncollected Thoughts on Eleven Years of the Kindle

  1. I like having the flexibility to read different texts in different media – as you’ve said here, print and ebook each have their advantages and drawbacks. I’ve not had any problems using my kindle (or my kindle app) since I moved abroad (and I can still buy ebooks from my usual amazon site when I’m abroad too). I haven’t tried borrowing on my kindle though.

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  2. I was dubious about having a kindle when I first got one (as a gift) and I will always have a deep fondness for print books, but I have to say the kindle does have some advantages. When I travel, its a godsend for having tons of books in one compact package (last count I have 147 books on my kindle). I can find out-of-print, archaic books for my kindle that I would probably never track down as paper copies. I do worry sometimes that when my kindle finally quits functioning- all electronics have a shelf life- I will loose all those books, and there is also the frustration of having to wait for, or find a place to charge it, when travelling. So I do always have a backup chunkster along if I’m on a long trip (usually one of essays or short stories so I won’t mind dipping in and out of it). I never thought of how it may have affected my reading style or comprehension- probably in part because I made a case for my kindle that feels just like a book- actually, it IS a book that I hollowed out… sometimes when I’m reading I forget enough that I attempt to turn an actual page, instead of making the swipe gesture. I do like the ability to highlight and easily skip to highlighted sections when I’m sitting down to write a review, but it’s disconcerting to NOT be able to thumb through pages and find a passage I just remember vaguely.

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  3. Great post – I’ve never understood why the idea of reading on a kindle upsets people. I love my kindle and in 11 years have gone through quite a few of them (my current Voyage is my favorite). I’ve never had trouble accessing my books abroad as long as there’s access to wi-fi. And I find my local libraries have great access to e-books. I love the Overdrive/Libby apps and being able to track my wish list online. My only complaint is in the cold weather, it’s hard to read with gloves on, but that’s true of paper books as well.

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