As excited as I was to receive a Kindle as a gift from the OH last year, I was skeptical too. I have always loved paper books, and I felt like I would be doing them a wrong turn by embracing the Kindle. I felt like I was giving in to something compact and modern, as against something tried and tested since ages. I felt guilty. At the same time, I also felt super excited at the possibilities the Kindle would open up to me. I could buy the e-book versions of all those paper books that had earlier been too expensive for me to buy. I could read anything I wanted to, at any time – most e-books were quite affordable. I could carry my library around with me wherever I went. So on and so forth.
I am here to say that a few months of using the Kindle has changed me. I am here to note down my experiences with the Kindle so far, for those of you who have drooled over one but have been skeptical of buying one.
I am in love with my Kindle, let us get that clear from the start. For three months straight after getting the Kindle, I did not read one single paper book. There were so many inexpensive e-books that I could buy that I was lured away. There was a whole wealth of books that I could read on the Kindle, books that I might have had to wait for years to read, if I were reading paper books. I explored new genres, new authors, and loved every bit of doing that. The fact that it is extremely easy and comfortable to read on a Kindle helped too. No eye strain. I could read even in the night, without turning the light on and disturbing others.
The Kindle has reduced my book clutter. All the e-books I have read so far take up very little space on the Kindle, but they would have taken up a whole load of space in my house. My bookshelf, which is already groaning with a huge number of unread paper books, would not have taken these extra books, had I bought them. I saved money on buying books – my book budgeting improved.
The Kindle has improved my reading speed, I don’t know how. Even if I read on the Kindle for the same amount of time that I used to spend on paper books, I felt like I get more accomplished. Books get over more quickly on the Kindle. A little bit of research on the internet showed me that I am not the only one to think that my reading speed has increased after getting a Kindle. And, for people like me, who think in terms of ‘So much to read, so little time’, that is a wonderful thing.
With the Kindle, I have been able to choose the right kind of book at the right time. When in Goa, I was in no mood to read a holiday romance, which is what I would have normally carried with me earlier. I wanted to read a warm food-based memoir that I, fortunately, had on the Kindle, and was able to read it. No point in plodding along with a book you have chosen for a holiday, if you aren’t really feeling like reading it, right? Also, I began to carry my Kindle on my morning walks (quite easy to do, as opposed to carrying a book), and that way, I got about half an hour’s uninterrupted reading time while I cooled my heels after exercising. All good!
Over the months of using the Kindle, I also began to feel less and less guilty about not reading paper books instead. I later lost that feeling of guilt altogether. I was lucky to have read this paragraph in the user manual that came with the Kindle, an excerpt from a letter to the user by Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon.com:
Our top design objective was for Kindle to disappear in your hands – to get out of the way – so you can enjoy your reading experience. We hope you’ll quickly forget you’re reading on an advanced wireless device and instead be transported into that realm of pure imagination readers love, where the outside world dissolves, leaving only the author’s stories, words and ideas.
That is the mindset I began to approach reading on the Kindle with, and it helped me a great deal. Slowly, the imaginary wall in my head fell, and all that I held in my hands when I read on the Kindle was an author’s creation. I forgot that I was reading on an electronic device, and began to heed only the words of the author. The paper books vs. e-books debate began to fade for me – as long as you are reading something, it is good. What difference does it really make if you read it on paper or in e-book form?
A couple of weeks ago, I started reading paper books again, because I wanted to give the Kindle a break and get the feel of holding a book in my hands again. I was, again, skeptical of whether I would enjoy the process after months of the Kindle, but I did! It was just like before. Paper books give me just as much joy as before, I am happy to say. Now, I have begun to realise, there are books which are meant to be read on the Kindle, while some are best suited to be read in the paper version. For instance, The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan or Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti, or Frances Mayes’s Under The Tuscan Sun are books that I would prefer to hold, in the paper form, in my hands, turn the pages back over and over again, sigh over one favourite passage or the other. Not that that cannot be done on the Kindle; just that I would like to do it for these books in paper.
There is a lot more that I still need to explore, as far reading on the Kindle is concerned, but I have loved the experience so far, and am waiting for more!
Do you own a Kindle? How has your experience been with it so far?