Monday, July 2, 2018

Holiday reading, Books v Kindle

I'm happily on holiday now, the weather is being kind, and once I've written this I might go off with a book for a bit - or for a walk, or I might make a cup of tea... all excellent holiday options.

Late last week someone who loves their kindle was asking on twitter why anybody would pack physical books. I don't love kindles (or own one), but do sometimes use a kindle app on my phone. There are books on my iPad too, but although some of them have sat there for years it's very much a case of out of sight, out of mind, and I've never read anything on it.

What was interesting about the whole thing is that people so clearly prefer one or the other and for a whole range of good reasons. Part of my resistance to a kindle is the cost. I don't want to spend money on something just to spend more money on the content. I certainly don't want to depend on batteries, not losing the device, not dropping it in some fatal way, or similar.

I don't particularly enjoy reading off screens either, it just doesn't feel the same. And then there's the memories. I generally remember where I buy a book (if it's from a shop at least) and where I've read it. Neither my phone or iPad evoke the same emotional response. For some reason I also find it harder to write about books I've read on my phone.

The big difference for me when it comes to holiday books however is the ritual of choosing them. I like the discipline that packing imposes on me - I've chosen 5 books for this trip, 2 I want to finish, 2 I thought might be fun, and 1 that I've been meaning to read for a while. I'm not sure how far I'll get, I might leave some behind for my family to read if I finish them - I might buy some more.

The important thing for me was the choosing process, it was a calm half hour in the rush of getting things done before I went away, and an always welcome chance to think about my books and happily explore them. I love that process, it's the bit when the prospect of a holiday is real. Picking up a device with a virtual library on it just isn't the same for me. How about you?


  1. I love physical books but I also own a Kindle. The Kindle was a gift at a time when I didn't have a lot of money to spend on books. It allowed me to read dozens and dozens of out-of-copyright books for free. This was in the days before I read book blogs and it helped me discover many authors I wouldn't have otherwise read. Now, if I am going to spend money on a book it will be physical copy but I still use my Kindle. I always throw it in my suitcase for vacation because it guarantees I won't run out of reading material. So, while my heart belongs to physical books, my Kindle has been good to me as well.

  2. I thought I would never take to a kindle (or any other electronic reader) but soon found that what I was reading on didn’t make a difference. For me it is the story that matters and how it is conveyed to me doesn’t seem to be important. Where I can have a problem is with audio books because a poor choice of reader can be devastating.

  3. Another reason I do love my Kindle is font size. As I grow older I am amazed to discover how often the print size in physical books is so small it makes reading very difficult. (It can't have anything to do with my eyesight failing as I age, can it?) With the Kindle (or Kindle app on tablet, computer, phone or whatever) I can adjust the font size so I can read in comfort. I love physical books, but I also want to be able to read the text.


  4. I have a kindle too, but prefer actual books. However, the screen on some of the kindles is not like reading from a computer screen (it's not back lit).

    Like you I enjoy the ritual of picking books, for holidays or otherwise, and having a shelf (or more) of unread books. I also think you rememeber books better if read on paper. Finally, kindle made me realise how often i flick back a few pages to check things. Much harder on a kindle and definitely no good for any sort of reference book or travel guide.

    As my kindle is very old i can listen to audio books on it and that's what i really use it for, but i also have it as a back up in case of being somewhere without a book... though in that case can also read on my phone.

    I think that as there is no physical production process or deliveriies etc kindle books should be cheaper than real books, but often they are not...

  5. I agree with all the comments to some degree, BUT, I love books -- the physical feel, the smell, the look, the immediacy, and many covers are works of art (well almost). I also seem to absorb and retain the contents much better if I read from paper. However it is handy to have one along in case one runs out of, or really doesn't like a book. And it means that you con't have to cart a lot of heavy books around. The changeable font is a huge plus for those of us with aging eyes but Kindle books are getting very expensive -- about the cost (and sometimes more) of real paper back books.

    What I would love, for all books, whether digital or print, are maps, illustrations, family trees, descriptions, and some suggestions for further reading, if non fiction.

  6. I do sometimes read e-books (on an i-pad not a kindle) but I prefer physical books. For a start you can't read a kindle/i-pad in the bath!

    And when I am reading at night, or in my lunch hour at work, I do like to check how long a chapter is, to decide whether to start it, or whether to keep going for just those few pages more.

  7. I read both print books and on a Kindle. Mine is an ancient one with an actual keyboard. I tend to use it when I'm travelling and it is useful when I'm staying in our house in France, as I can download any title I'm interested in. I still buy books and use my local library regularly. The pros and cons of the Kindle are well documented in earlier comments. I think I read a bit faster on the Kindle than I do some books.

  8. I love print books, but I also love my Kindle Paperwhite. You can read it in the dark, which is helpful when I'm stuck at a train crossing at night, or in a dimly lit restaurant or cafe. The best feature is the way it looks up words or phrases in 1. a dictionary, 2. Wikipedia, and/or 3. a language translator. [Mid-century British authors often use a lot of French, which I don't know.] I've had it 2 months and so far I download those public domain ones for free, or borrow modern titles from the public library, also for free. I own piles and piles of paper books, but this Kindle is great fun!

  9. I am old fashioned, and I admit that I prefer physical books. But I can see why people would prefer a Kindle for travelling. I do not own one myself, but have an e-reader app on my phone. But I do not use it often, because I find reading long articles off my phone is more difficult. I suppose this is partly the back lighting, and partly the small physical size. I do not have a Kindle partly because I am just a tight fisted person who mostly read physical books which I borrow from the library, and do not want to spend money on a Kindle.

  10. I like having e-books for digital downloads from the library -- at this point, I'm really resisting buying books that I absolutely don't have to! I'd much rather read a print book but I do like having at least one e-book on my phone so that I can always take advantage of a free moment to read even a few pages while waiting at the post office or somewhere when I haven't dragged a print book with me (difficult if it's a doorstopper). I would rather have pages to turn and to see my place marker so I can trace my progress, but I do love the convenience of ebooks (both print and audio) as I'm quite sure it helps me squeeze in more reading. I think of the nearly 50 books I've read so far this year, I've read maybe 10 completely on e-book and portions of others, as I sometimes have a print book as well.

  11. I think what Jennifer says is right - my heart also belongs to physical books but my kindle has been very good to me too. I have had the opportunity to read lots of new releases on my kindle through netgalley.

    I like to flick back a few pages or judge how long a chapter is but that is the downside of a kindle.

    I think a kindle works for its owner in whatever way they want it to. The increase in font I know is a godsend to my mum.

  12. I love 'real' books and they are stacked up in my study, as I can't resist buying them. They're beautiful and I have loved them all my life. But I also love my Kindle Paperwhite. It's light to hold (my hands and wrists often hurt, so that's a bonus), it's easy to read in any kind of lighting and I like its compactness. Also, some books that are out of print are still available as e-books. My policy mainly is: books I think I will only read once, I buy and read on my Kindle. Books that are more important to me, and/or books with lots of illustrations I buy as physical books. My main concern with the Kindle is the fact that prices are pretty high and Amazon is not a very nice company to buy from.