My obvious love of books has kept me from accepting the fact that people don’t read physical books anymore: they use e-readers like Kindles or Nooks. Like most book lovers I regard them as something to dismiss, something that takes away from the fun of reading. But here’s the thing: I had never actually used one before. So I decided to conduct an experiment and read my boyfriend’s kindle for a week to give it a try.
But as chance would have it, I only made it through 48 hours before giving up on the thing. I did genuinely try to give it a shot, and I have to say that it exceeded my expectations. I was expecting something more like an iPad – with bright lights that make your eyes go weird after looking at it for more than 20 minutes, and the on-screen-scrolling like an endless news article. Instead, it has a dulled screen that looks more like a page in a book than an actual screen; It has that “used page” look. And to my surprise, you don’t scroll, it has these big buttons on both sides that go forward or backward from page to page.
Other than that, though, I had a really hard time getting into it. My theory was that I would choose a book that I had already read in paperback and read it for exactly one week (unless I finished it sooner) and then write the comparison between a Kindle book and a physical copy of a book. Seems simple enough. So, I found a book that was already on the Kindle and tried to read it like I normally would a hardcopy (for me normal reading is a lot of pages in a short span of time, and almost too much concentration — someone could nearly hit me with a football and I probably wouldn’t even notice.) That first night I read four chapters of the great classic Pride and Prejudice. They’re not long chapters, but it took me a pretty decent chunk of time just trying to focus.
There were a few annoyances. Those big buttons on the side of the Kindle that I mentioned before? Well they take up the majority of each side of the Kindle, making it nearly impossible for me to hold the e-reader like a normal person without going a few pages ahead of where I was and ruining any surprises. I also had such a hard time concentrating on the story. Because it’s a Kindle and quite small, I didn’t need to use both hands to hold it and ended up having an extreme case of restless arm syndrome. I kept checking my phone, grabbing some water, constantly stretching my arms and just basically doing everything but keeping my eyes on the page. I took that as a lesson learned, and the next night I put my phone out of reach, and just tried to sit and focus on the story. I never made it past chapter 5.
About a page into the fifth chapter I managed to figure out the “lazy person’s guide to reading a Kindle” which was basically me laying on my side in bed with the Kindle propped up so I could lay down and read without having to hold it. I fell asleep. I tried one more time the following day to make the Kindle work for me. I sat down in a chair and was all set to read. But when I sat down, I held the Kindle a little too hard on the side and went six pages ahead. That was when I just put it down and said, “nope. This isn’t working. I’m frustrated, I’m bored, and I already want to look at my phone.” And thus concluded my Kindle experiment.
I know a lot of people really like e-readers, and I can completely understand that position. It’s convenient — especially if you’re going on a trip. You can have hundreds of books at your disposal at all times, with a little square that weighs probably less than a pound. It also gives you all the comforts of a real book with a screen that looks like the yellowed, paper pages in a hardcopy. It’s also easy on the eyes, which makes things much better if you were at the beach, or if you even just have bad eyesight (guilty.)
However, I really don’t like it. I tried to find some common ground, and I tried to make it work as best as possible for me, but I just couldn’t get into it. I missed the feeling of turning a page. You know that feeling you get when you’re on the last paragraph and you get ready to turn the page with your one finger on the following page? I missed that. I missed being able to slide a bookmark in and close the book to see how far I’ve gotten, and how much I have left. And as convenient as it is, I’d rather load up my suitcase with books and have to check my bag, than have to read off of a Kindle on a plane. I just get too restless and frustrated. I can’t concentrate.
So for me at least, a hardcopy of a book will always win in a battle of book versus e-reader. If you guys like Kindles or Nooks, let me know in the comments and tell me why you like it. I’d love to hear your thoughts and see if maybe there was something I was missing in the experiment!
Until next time! Happy reading!