Reading on a Kindle, Part Two


As much as I love the Kindle for convenience—the ease of buying a book from my bed at 10 pm on a rainy night and the ease of travel with five or 50 books without added luggage weight—I struggle to read on the Kindle on a daily basis.

I don’t like that the title and author name are only visible when I make the header pop up. I will be deeply engrossed in a book and when I talk to someone about it, I can’t remember the title or the author. That never happens with a print book, as I regularly look at the front and back while I am reading.

But the larger issue for me is that the Kindle makes all books look and feel the same. I love the artifact of the book as much as the ideas contained within the pages. I relish the small physical details, like the paper texture, the font, the cover art, the weight of the book in my hands and the scent of its pages. With the Kindle, all the books weigh the same, there is no unique scent and the page and layout begin to blur into one Kindle look and feel.

The sameness of reading on a Kindle reminds me of how I first felt about email. I loved the ease and speed of email when it debuted, but I missed the personal quality of letter, and for the first few years that I had an email account, I continued to write letters and postcards to friends. But now after almost 20 years with email, I rarely send a letter. The future will only tell if I am willing to let go of the book.

And I might not be alone with my book attachment. The latest Nielson Books & Consumer survey showed that in the first half of 2014, paperback purchases were in the lead with 42% of sales, followed by hardcovers for 25% and e-books at 23%.

How about you? Do you read on a Kindle? Do you like it?

Next week I will write about a book I deeply enjoyed, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. It was recently chosen as Amazon’s Best Book of 2014, and I fully agree with this accolade.




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5 responses to “Reading on a Kindle, Part Two

  1. I use my Kindle for book club selections that I don’t want to own. I find that I can read faster–punching the screen beats turning the page–if you’re in a hurry. The consequence, though, is that I have poorer retention. And I still don’t know how to do all that useful stuff, like highlighting passages, on the Kindle. I guess I need a Kindle tutor, but don’t care enough about it to get one. (Forget actually breaking down and reading the instructions!)

    However, the great advantage is being able to travel with many books without the weight.

    • Interesting Christina. I had never thought about how it could be easier/faster to read on a Kindle, but you are right. I think I do the same. Thanks for your comment!

  2. lauracbrown

    I posted this on facebook but I thought I’d comment here, too. I’m in complete agreement with you Kate. If I start reading a book on a kindle and I really like the book, I’ll buy the actual book. If I think the book is meh I’ll read it on the kindle & let it go at that. The kindle creates a lesser, quicker, more generic experience. I like pages & covers & flaps & typography & texture and all that good stuff. Plus I like to stick post-its at memorable passages.

    • @Laura Sounds like you are a bit like me in that you enjoy the physical aspect of the book. The authors who write books you like are lucky if you are buying two copies of their books 😉 Thanks for your comment

  3. louise crawford

    I love holding a real book; turning the pages by hand; maybe even peeking ahead a bit; checking again the author’s bio, etc. Even when travelling I prefer a “real” book.

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