Like many people, I debated for a long time about getting a kindle. I’m an old fashioned gal and I like holding a book. I love old books. I love the beautiful new releases. I love when there’s a story behind the books that you own. But I hate getting them damaged. What this means for me is that I generally have three types of books: hardcover books that I read at home, paperback books that I can read in bed (cos I find hardcover books too heavy) and slightly worn books/books I probably won’t keep that I can take in bags to read on trains, planes, automobiles. So while this shows that I have obsessive compulsive tendencies with books it doesn’t necessarily connect to buying a kindle.
My one convincing factor was holidays. Now I’m not a big holiday person. It’s not that I hate them I just can’t afford to frequently go gallivanting. I’m poor. But I read a lot on holiday. And I hate using my luggage allowance on books. It’s frustrating. I want to pack more shoes and clothes. So a kindle is perfect for that. It’s also great for reading by the pool. I don’t like the moisture making my books wobbly. That was my problem with reading books in Florida. I refused to take my Scott Pilgrim’s out of the villa. The air conditioning was bad enough for the books let alone the Florida heat. And also, as the kindle adverts constantly tell us, there isn’t glare with a kindle. This is true. I’ve tested it.
Going on holiday maybe once every few years is a really stupid reason to buy a kindle but, thinking about reading books on trains makes more sense for me. I like having a book in my bag just in case. But books are heavy. They differ in size. And then your reading choice becomes less about the book and more about the weight, size and (if you’re me) the condition the book is in and whether a few more bumps will notice.
Another brilliant thing about the kindle is that no-one can see what you’re reading. This is an underrated pleasure. You might occasionally want people to know what you’re reading so you can feel smug about it. Yes, I am reading The Beautiful and the Damned (this is true, hand on heart) while you sit across from me reading Jackie Collins but you will sadly never know. But then, I can always swap to The Hunger Games and you could be imagining that I’m reading Great Expectations. You lose the smugness of reading a ‘classic’ but you can hide the embarrassment of being a grown woman reading Harry Potter.
On the other hand, I collect books. I collect Agatha Christie’s. I’ve just started collecting P.G. Wodehouse’s. I’ll pick up the occasional Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m trying to find various editions of The Great Gatsby. Mostly this involves going into charity shops or second hand bookshops. It’s a lovely feeling. Being surrounded by books and their history. I regret giving away the first copy of The Great Gatsby that I read. It belonged to the daughter of one of my Dad’s colleagues and was full of little notes. The notes weren’t just about the book. Some were gossipy notes written to friends. And I’ll bet the teacher thought they were just making lots of notes about Daisy’s motivations. It’s this history that you can’t get with a kindle.
So this all sounds like I’m arguing my way out of getting a kindle, but I still like having it. I’m going away for two weeks soon to work as a costume supervisor on a show (but more about that…sometime) and I can’t survive for two weeks without a book. Especially as I’ve got a stupidly long train journey. With a kindle, I can have a few different books on there. If I’m feeling tired or bogged down reading, say, Jane Eyre, then I can swap to How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. (Which I’ve just finished and thoroughly enjoyed and has given me many feminist thoughts to ponder. Read it. As a woman or a man I urge you to read it.) Swapping between physical books on a train when you’ve got an annoyingly large suitcase full of costumes to deal with as well…bit more difficult. And if I decide I want a new book, I just need an internet connection and there’s no added weight. Kindle’s are a bit weird to read with in bed but you get used to it and they’re still not as unwieldy as a hardback book. (I’m sure that’s the reason it took me months to get through Agatha Christie’s Autobiography. It’s a massive book. I mostly read in bed. This is not conducive.)
But, back to my title point: my kindle will never stop me from buying books. There seems to be some kind of war going on between kindles and books but I firmly believe that books will survive. Can you get a signed first edition of an ebook? Can authors do ebook signings? Will there be ebook readings? Books are regularly being re-released with different covers. Although this, to me, is akin to an artist re-releasing an album after 3 months with two new songs on it (yes, Michael Buble I’m looking at you in particular, stop re-relasing albums for Christmas, Easter, Mothering Sunday, whenever, just stop); for certain books and certain covers I’ll oblige. Atonement. I’ve got the Waterstones’ hardback edition, the paperback film release that my Dad bought me when I said I wanted to read it (before seeing the film obviously) and a hardback edition because I needed it for my dissertation. (That’s the official reason. I just like the hardback with the original cover.) So that’s Atonement. The Great Gatsby. I currently only have a Collins Classics paperback edition and the new Art Deco cover hardback release, but I’m looking for more. For your favourite books, if you’re a collector (hoarder) like me, you’ll do it. Sidenote: have you seen the Fitzgerald editions they’ve released? They are BEAUTIFUL.
And something else that I only discovered last Christmas via a present from my Dad: a reading spa. Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is an independent book shop in Bath. They offer various book related gifts for people including the reading spa. What is a reading spa you ask? Well, at Mr. B’s the reading spa includes a one-to-one talk with one of their book sellers about your book preferences and from this they will find books for you – new books you’ve never heard of, books that you might not have considered, books to widen your reading experience. All this comes with tea, coffee and cake, a book voucher, a Mr. B’s mug complete with hot chocolate and “spa” goodies and, overall, a wonderful day. The shop is beautiful and you are free to browse and are not made to feel like an inconvenience at all. I came out with eleven books I think and I’m now looking for more by various authors and I noted down a number of books that I just couldn’t get. Some of these books I will probably choose to get on my kindle but I never would have discovered them had it not been for Mr. B’s. As long as shops like this exist, struggle though they may against the bigger chain bookshops and internet prices, reading will always be enjoyable. I can’t see this experience being offered with a kindle.
Reading is a wonderful way of entering another world. Currently books are being viewed as film making material (and this has been the case since the first films were made) but this still encourages reading. Whether that be in book form or on a kindle. If anything comes out of reading this long and rambling post I hope it is that you continue to enjoy reading and visit Mr. B’s in Bath!