Sara Paretsky’s Blog


Book v Kindle
August 7, 2009, 8:26 pm
Filed under: Books, reading

My cousin Barb, in Ukraine with the Peace Corps, took a Kindle with her, and a mighty fine idea that was, too: remote from any English-language bookstores or libraries, she was able to bring a hundred or so texts overseas with her without needing all those boxes we used to lug to foreign parts.  So I will say I am not adamantly opposed to the e-book.

However, I have tried reading on a Kindle and it doesn’t work for me.  Even though I get how convenient it is, and even though I just my second copy of American Pharaoh because I couldn’t find the first in my thousands of books, I don’t find it easy to use. I’m sure I could get used to searching instead of flipping pages, although I like to see where I am physically in a novel–did this event or character appear early or late in the narrative? But the way the text is framed slows down reading.  When you’re used to scanning a page, getting text one page at a time actually makes it harder to stay in the narrative flow.

I also prefer newspapers in print, especially since I live with someone, and we trade sections back and forth (we actually get 3 daily papers, so we often trade papers back and forth, sharing stories that have caught our eye.)

However, Green Apple Books in San Francisco has brought a whole new dimension to the Book v Kindle debate.  I think these little video clips are highly entertaining, and you may enjoy them, too.

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10 Comments so far
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I hear you, though the thought and idea of having kindle vs a box of books while traveling, well the kindle wins that hands down.
I have a heck of a time reading long items on a screen, and if I’m really interested, I’ll print up an article or an e-mail so I can feel that paper.
Of course I am bibliophile, and I love the feel of a book!
Peace be with you,

Comment by Wulfgar

Oh, yes, I will always prefer a book, for many reasons–the feel, the ease of read, the fact that it goes from bath to bed without a whimper, and the way text is organized. Just because we can do something electronically doesn’t mean we have to.

Comment by saraparetsky

I have not tried to make any objective test of the matter, but it seems to me that my comprehension is better with a real book, magazine, or newspaper than it is with text on screen. Even if I print off something to sheets of paper, I still do not grasp it as fully as with a bound book.

Comment by Joseph Mansfield

Well, I have to fall in line with the other comments. Although I can see the utility of a Kindle, especially when traveling, I so appreciate the feel, smell and comfort that a book gives me as I read and turn the pages. There’s something about being able to turn back readily to recall some detail or passage. And for nonfiction books that have notes, I like to be able to read the notes after each chapter. Often these notes give me other sources to read, and provide information that wasn’t in the text. Using a Kindle might make that a more laborious process. I do read a lot on my computer in terms of email, etc., but once home, I want to have a book in my hand, not reading it from a screen.

Comment by Doug Clark

I’ve never seen a Kindle (oh, the deprivation of living so far from civilization…) but cannot imagine it taking the place of a book. The feel, the smell, the sheer joy of holding a new book; the anticipation of discovering new adventures within it’s crisp cover – somehow, a piece of plastic vibrating with electricity doesn’t compare. (Oh, wait, did that sound dirty?) And what if the battery runs down right at the crucial moment?

(Oh dear, should I delete this and start over?)

Comment by the Bag Lady

I too prefer to read the printed papers and actual printed books. I agree that just because something is available electronically doensn’t mean that it is better or preferable.

Comment by Laurie Jane

I also wonder about book signings in the Age of the E-Book

Comment by saraparetsky

Good point. I guess you could break out the Sharpies and magic markers….;)

Comment by Wulfgar

I guess I’m “old school” when it comes to reading books. I need to have the book in my hand and turn real pages. Sara, you’re right about the book signings. Would they turn into some virtual reality experience?

Comment by genny winne

I don’t see why real books and e-readers should not be used both. I love books (for all the reasons already mentioned) but as a person who travels on subways, streetcars, buses and trains while schlepping photo equipment, an e-reader is a welcome alternative.

I have been using a (now vintage) Palm IIIe for many years as a temporary replacement for books.

Reading is not as convienent but it still beats not having no book available. I usually store several novels, movie scripts, newspaper articles and tutorials at once on the Palm, so I always have a variety of reading material to choose from.

I haven’t tried a Kindle yet, but I dislike the wireless data transfer, the DRM, and the price. I guess there will be better solutions – I can imagine reading on a cell phone with a big display (I know you can do that right now but my cell is a little retro;)

As for the book signings: As writing letters by hand has been more or less replaced by e-mail, and as there are methods for digital signatures in documents, maybe the idea of “signing” will shift from writing your name with a pen on a piece of paper to something else that will carry the same emotional value – or maybe more.

I can imagine having a digital personal signature that could be anything like a logo, a drawing, styled text etc. And with all the gadgets being able to send and receive data, maybe marking an electronic book personal could be sending a digital photo of the author and the book owner taken together, marked with the author’s personal logo and then being transferred to the e-reader. Or something like that :))

Comment by Moni Kellermann




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