When a large part of your identity is defined by being a lover of books, a question you get asked a lot is “So how do you feel about Kindles1?”
My general policy in life is you cannot hate on something you have not tried/done/read/experienced for yourself2, and since I have never owned or used an eReader of any sort, my answer to this question is usually something along the lines of “So long as you’re reading, I don’t care how you’re doing it.” I did not feel I could have an educated opinion on the Kindle until I had experienced one for myself.
And then yesterday, while in the sagging afternoon hours of the third snow day of the year, I read my first ever book on a Kindle.
It was not my Kindle. It was my friend Milton’s Kindle, which she kindly lent me so I could read an advanced copy of the third book in a series I really like. The eBook was both free and available about a month and a half before the book is released, so how could I say no? All I needed was some way to read it. Which is where Milton and her Kindle came in.
Because it was an uncorrected proof, there were formatting errors that had nothing to do with the Kindle and everything to do with the fact that the book isn’t even out yet. The formatting went wonky in a few places so everything looked like beat poetry3, and every time a word started with an F, that F would get its own line before the paragraph then continued on the next. Also the headers that were meant to go on the top of the page would randomly show up in the middle every so often.
But I don’t blame the Kindle for this. Here’s what I do blame the Kindle for.
As I was reading, I realized I have trained my brain to understand words read on a screen differently from words read printed in a book. Because of my own biases, words on a page have precedence. I take them more seriously. They feel like a book that other people have read and edited and said “This is worthy of your reading.” Words on a screen feel like a Word Document a friend has sent me for my thoughts and changes. I am notorious for never spotting typos in books if I’m not looking for them, but I kept seeing them when reading on the Kindle. I also found myself editing sentence structure in my head. I don’t do this when I read physical books.
The Kindle also reminded me how impossibly old school I am. Reading on it made me feel like I was in a science fiction movie, and I kept reaching to turn the page only to find my fingers running into a screen instead.
But in the end, I still liked the book. I didn’t feel like the screen was a barrier between me and the story or the characters. And overall, I don’t think my reading experience was impeded by the fact that I was reading an eBook instead of a physical book.
So now that I have read a book on a Kindle, I feel like I can have an educated opinion about the Kindle v. print book.
What’s my opinion, you may ask?
So long as you’re reading, I don’t care how you’re doing it.
- Or Nooks or iPads or any sort of eBook platforms.
- Most of the reason I read Twilight was so I could feel confident in hating it.
- Which really made me giggle, actually. Beat poetry battle scenes are excellent.