Real Book Or Kindle For Novel Reading?

I received my first Kindle as a gift. I sighed, groaned, and moaned when I examined it, making the gift bearer, my poor enterprising partner, frown. ‘What am I going to make of you?’ I mentally said to the Kindle. ‘You’ll no doubt be difficult to use and I’d rather read a real book!  All this technical progress just doesn’t know where to stop!’ I wailed, looking dubiously at its clinical non-reflective grey screen. How on earth was I possibly able to enjoy reading a novel on this gadget?

 But then I looked at my bookshelves, full of novels I’ve read once, then kept for sentimental reasons, or kept because I might get around to re-reading them one day, or books I just must keep because I studied from them and they’re marked in the margins with my thoughts and my learning. Or books I’ve kept which are important examples of certain narrative styles, or books which are classics and you don’t throw classics away, because they form the secure core in your own personal library which you have built up. And this building up of a physical collection is important. You could say the books you have on your shelf reflect who you are and the life journey you’ve been on. Here is an article by Peter Knox discussing this concept, entitled ‘What does your book shelf say about you?’

And so for all these reasons, all my books remain, organised into categories I could never explain to anyone, packed tightly shoulder to shoulder, on shelves I’m periodically moved to dust the edges of. And while holding my new Kindle, right then, and looking at the shelves,  I thought, ‘Well I can’t go on like this either. I simply don’t have any more room. I suppose I might as well give this thing a try.’

 And so my relationship with my Kindle Paperwhite began  – and it really is a relationship. I don’t go anywhere without it, either on an overnight stay or a longer holiday. It’s always with me and I love it. I should point out before elaborating on its star qualities, that in the case of  ‘how to’ books, travel, science, history, nature or factual non-fiction books, illustrations greatly enhance the function and the reading experience, in which cases printed is always going to be best, and I have plenty of these on my shelves. But for novels, memoirs, short story collections, psychology and philosophy, then reading e-Books of these on my Kindle is just perfect  – and needless to say, I’m not been paid in any way to say this – that’s simply not a Lynne thing.

Here’s why I love my Kindle and what I feel its advantages are …

You can pretty much use it in very similar ways to a physical book. You ‘turn’ the pages back and forth, you can bookmark passages of interest you want to go back to. You can highlight passages and put them in your ‘clippings folder’, and get rid of this accumulation of clippings when you’re done with them. You can monitor how far through the book you are by using the reading progress functions. I go for the ‘percentage of way through’ option. And you can jump around a non-fiction book by using the chapters in the table of contents.

You can look up meanings of words easily as you’re reading, using the digital dictionaries provided within. Just highlight a word and you’ve got the meaning, right then and there.

You can alter the font style to suit yourself , the size, and the line spacing. You are therefore not stuck with a font you really dislike in a physically printed book, which you find ugly, too big, or too small. Now that is a very practical bonus and  an aesthetic one too.

You can change the brightness of the screen to suit the lighting conditions. Bright sunshine, no problem. Reading in the dark, no problem  – I love this in particular, it’s more conducive for nodding off to sleep with your book, without a bedside lamp having to stay on if you’re prone to insomnia. Imagine being able to read in the dark with the light off? You can become so much more immersed in the fictional world this way. Just make sure you look after your eyes by turning down the screen brightness.

You can still see the cover of the novel you’re reading in tonal black and white. Now I don’t get as much aesthetic pleasure from book covers as I used to. They seem to have changed recently. They come across as having been designed to be primarily eye-catching more than reflecting the story. Or they use photographs that frequently just don’t fit the story. So for me, the lack of a coloured book cover is no great loss these days, and the kindle has some beautiful tonal screensavers to enjoy instead.

It’s the words in writing that count, not the packaging. The words draw you into the imagined world of the story and work the muscles of the imagination. You don’t really need a physical book to help you do this.

You have the advantage of being able to download free eBooks, which are out of their copyright dates, from a range of sources, Project Gutenberg being one of them. So you can access the classics this way. Here is a list of 12 sources.

They can save paper, so they’re environmentally friendly, and therefore cheaper to buy too. They have a long battery life and large storage capacity and can save space on your bookshelves.

I should point that that to keep my relationship with my kindle ‘special’, I don’t connect it to the internet and Amazon, unless I’m downloading a new eBook. Leaving it connected would let in the retail world too much, and I want my fictive worlds untainted. I also display my books in a list form instead of thumbnails, for the same reason.

But the lure of a physical book is hard to ignore…

The physical presence of a printed novel and its familiar cover can have the sense of being an old friend that you look on with fondness or excitement and may revisit some day – or at least the warm intention can be there.

You can browse them, look at the blurbs on the back, and remind yourself of why you loved reading this book, to allow a more soulful contemplation.

And as a writer, what do you want to achieve when you’ve written your own novel? Do you want to hold the published paperback in your hands and physically turn the pages, smell the paper perhaps, or download the eBook and have it disappear into a reading device?

So to conclude: real book or kindle for novel reading? It’s actually 50:50 for me. A kindle can be a magical portal to a specially selected digital library, where books and the worlds within can stay there waiting to be ‘opened up’ again, just as if they were on a bookshelf, and serving the very same functions. But being able to browse through a physical collection is a more visual and tactile reminder of our own personal journeys as readers.

Real book or kindle? What about you?

(pics courtesy of pixabay)

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About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Blogsite lynnefisher.wordpress.com Twitter @writeartblog Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnefisherheadtoheadhearttoheart/
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29 Responses to Real Book Or Kindle For Novel Reading?

  1. Ares . Three says:

    I’ve been using a kindle for years, how do you go back to a page you bookmarked? I see the black marker in the upper corner, but don’t see how to go back to it once I move forward.

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    • lynnefisher says:

      You tap the top right corner again, and you should get a drop down list of all the locations you’ve bookmarked.You can then tap on one, and it will open up as a seperate window on top of where you are already. You can then see if it’s exactly where you want to be by turning the pages of this seperate window in the usual slide finger way. If it’s what you want, you tap on it and you’re in! I usually bookmark where I am when I stop reading, just in case the kindle does something odd and sends you back to the beginning. Thqnks for asking and i hope this helps

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ares . Three says:

        Well don’t I feel stupid. Thanks very much lol. Worked perfectly.

        One of my gripes with the Kindle was it took me forever to back to find pertinent information. Unlike a physical book, we can usually pinpoint (roughly) where something was based on its physical location. Little did I know Kindle can do this in an instant. The time I’ve wasted LOL

        Thanks again!

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      • lynnefisher says:

        Yes, it was very important to me too…took a while to find out what it could do. Glad to help

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m conflicted. I love technology, but I already stare at screens almost all day. I love not having to spend space on a bookshelf, but I also love the smell of paper. At the end of the day, I suppose I’m on the ebook side of the fence because of my sudden interest in minimalism and making the most of space. 🙂

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    • lynnefisher says:

      Yes, I know what you mean about staring at screens all day – it would be nice to turn to a real book for getting away from this. I suppose because I barely look at my smart phone and don’t use an ipad either, the balance is okay for me. It’s a very valid consideration. That’s why I’m 50:50 about it. Thanks for your comment – most appreciated

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Favorite Blog Posts of the Week – CEOLSIGE

  4. Reblogged this on Cynthia B Ainsworthe and commented:
    Kindle or paperback? Lynne Fisher poses thought-provoking ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like my Kindle because it saves space, but a paper book would never stop working and make you ‘restart’ it before you can go on reading – like mine did on Saturday!

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  6. I felt the exact same way before I started using a Kindle. I had a huge collection of books and felt that I could never let any of them go. But after I started reading on the Kindle, I realized that I just didn’t have the time or mental energy to go back and reread all of those books, and there were also so many more new books out in the world that I wanted explore.

    So, I still buy physical books, because I love them. But when I finish every physical book I read, I put it in a box and when the box is full I send it as a donation to a prison I know of that has a very sparse library. It makes me feel really good to know that there’s a very good chance all these physical books I enjoy are being read again and again by new pairs of eyes, and by people who can really benefit from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thanks, Lauren. I still buy physical books too, but if they don’t ‘cut it’ for me, I take them off to a charity shop for recycling, rather than add to loaded shelves. Every real book I keep has been vetted by me a few times! So paradoxically, having the kindle has made me more selective.

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  7. Kathy says:

    I love a print book but having downsized the lack of space has me buying more ebooks these days. I do still treat myself to a real book once in awhile which I usually pass on to another reader when I’m done.

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    • lynnefisher says:

      So downsizing and having a kindle has made your buying a print book more special perhaps. That’s how I operate these days. If I want the reading experience of a certain novel to be ‘special’, I buy the print book. It’s always a dilemma of a kind, but I don’t keep physical books if I didn’t get much from them, and in that case I take them off to a charity shop.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fascinating informative read, thank you Lynne, but I’m a book person…to me a room without shelves groaning with books, tables laden with them, – is like a room without flowers… My books go back to second hand copies bought on market stalls as far back as 1957… they’ve travelled round the world, moved house countless times and are all still treasured and re-read… have you read all these books people marvel, and my partner says yes, and not just once, but several times !
    I know I’m a Luddite when it comes to Kindle !!!!!

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    • lynnefisher says:

      Thanks Valerie,

      This post has prompted quite a few strong reactions I never suspected. I suppose I am really 50:50 about it, because I couldn’t let go of the books I do have, and I have books going back a long way to childhood…but I just haven’t got much room left. The big seller for me with the kindle is it being so conducive to reading in bed which I enjoy so much. Thanks for your views, I’m really enjoying the feedback.

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  9. Idle Muser says:

    A never-ending debate for readers and writers, Lynne. I, who is planning to self-gift a Kindle on my coming birthday, am more of a and will always be a hard-copy person. Kindle had to make its way through my life, some way or the other, but that is only because of economical reasons. My pocket just can’t afford buying hard-copies of every book in the world. At least not right now. And what better option is there than ebook, which not only is cheaper but carry its own light everywhere it goes.😉
    Though after reading this post of yours, who herself is a self-acclaimed not an ebook person, I have become a bit more comfortable with the idea of Kindle. Now, I might be able to look at it with more affection.😁
    Loved the post!💕

    Like

    • Idle Muser says:

      And yes, plan is to buy a hard copy (mostly second hand) every month and do rest of my reading on Kindle; which brings me down to 12 copies an year. This much, I guess, I will be able to afford.😁

      Like

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thanks Aditi! Lovely expression about the kindle carrying ‘its own light everywhere it goes’. There is somthing magical to me about the light – lighting up an inner world, you could say. I agree with the cost angle, I can’t afford hard copy books either and with the number of books i get through, only some paperbacks get through my ‘net’. So I love the choice. I’m so pleased I’ve been able to make you feel more affection for the kindle.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love my Kindle and real books so much that I’ve worked out a schedule for them all. I take a real book with me to work for lunch, and any downtime, or even quiet time at home. My paper white sits on my nightstand to read a different book in the evenings before bed for 30-45 minutes. To add to this, I also spend a lot of time working alone outside my office so I have Audible to listen to a third book. People will sometimes give me strange looks when I say I’m reading 3 books currently, but it doesn’t seem that odd to me!

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    • lynnefisher says:

      That’s so organised, but makes a lot of sense. I haven’t tried Audible yet, but it seems to becoming popular. If I was in your situation, I’d be tempted to do the same. I also love the kindle because you can copy sections you like into your clippings eg psychology book of some kind,then download them onto your PC, copy and paste into Word, then print out for filing. They have some bonuses that are so well thought out and well designed. Cheers for your comment and the follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I can so relate to this post! I’ve had a Kindle for years, but I prefer the touch, feel, and the smell of the written pages. The only reason I keep mind is, of course, the advantages of which you write. It’s difficult to carry around a bag of books these days. A Kindle, however, fits nicely in my bag. Thanks for sharing. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

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    • lynnefisher says:

      Thanks, Sheila. I think the main thing is to have the choice. I have been surprised at finding that women in my own age group seem to be resistant to the kindle, but I couldn’t be without it now :>)

      Liked by 1 person

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