Thursday, 2 May 2013

Liverpool Lou: E-reader Vs Real Book Face-Off

Like so many people, I am a reader of novels. Anything from Keyes to Camus – I’m not overly fussed as long as it’s fiction. I read with a level of commitment that no other area of my life gets to enjoy. I’m not proud of it. I can use up weeks’ worth of spare (and un-spare) time greedily gobbling up book after book whilst blithely allowing the BBC News app to gather e-dust in the meantime. (The same cannot be said for my Facebook app,which is too shame-making. Gosh, this post is becoming quite the confessional. I must have decided to go public with that morsel just to force myself to stop reading the “news feed” so compulsively. It’s not news, is it? What is it, though, and why am I so addicted to scouring it? All it does is leave me feeling vaguely amused/confused/pissed off and swallow up precious minutes of my already meagre morning toilette time. I never find out anything truly wonderful from it – the most important news is always old to me by the time it’s made it to the feed because my real-life, actual friends have already shared it in an old-fashioned, real-life sort of way. So I must do it to have sage advice about love and life imparted to me in new age-y font on a heavily Photoshopped background image of a beach/cityscape/sunset/mountain range/1980s florist’s card picture. And for the endless stream of witty jokes about being a woman, being a friend, alcohol, cupcakes and shopping. And also so that I can inwardly seethe over the use of “ball” for “bawl or “bork” for “balk”... Oh God it’s got to stop.).

Anyway, the novel (closely followed by the FB newsfeed) is my ideal means of distraction and boy, do I love a bit of distraction!

My dad, also quite the bookworm, got his Kindle a couple of years ago and like all recent acquirers of e-readers, waxed lyrical about its virtues to me. And I, like all the uninitiated, duly got all pretentious and responded with the stock, “but surely it can’t compare to holding a real book, with pages?” (well, of course it doesn’t! It isn’t supposed to!) and the other classic, “I just love the smell of old books, though” (what a lie! I know it’s a lie because I’m surrounded by old books in my current job and they’re musty, plain and simple. There’s nothing romantic about it. They just stink). Undeterred, he bought me a Kindle for my birthday. I think it was just over two years ago and I've since used it to read 15 novels and two halves (one I'm in the middle of and one I just couldn't get through - "Little Women". Sorry, Louisa May, it was going nowhere). I didn't stop reading traditional books of the paper variety - I just interspersed them with e-books. In a fit of “new life”-type resolutions, I began keeping a reading log shortly after arriving in Morocco in September and judging by that, I read less on the Kindle. But I know that’s because I work in an English language library and have access to thousands of real, live books so it doesn't really mean anything. If I wasn't working in a library, being abroad, I'd probably use the Kindle for everything. Needs must, cut your cloth, don't look a gift horse in the mouth etc.

{my clunky old grey kindle}

My Kindle (above), replete with crack at bottom right of screen which you probably can't make out. If your Kindle is cracked, it's loved and it's worth a million smelly old books.

{another perk - shopping for a cover}

I can’t speak for iPads, Sony ereaders or Nooks and I realise you may have made up your mind already, but here are my Kindlepros and cons...

In praise of the Kindle:
It's not too heavy and yet it can hold oodles ofbooks - good for hols, obvs.
It has a built in dictionary.
You can get loads of classic titles for free (I recently downloaded "The Rape of the Lock", hoping to relive the heady days of our 6th Form English A Level group. It wasn't quite the samewithout a giggling Trayns sitting next to me and scribbling notes about our future being neighbours in the same apartment block like "Friends". Oh, it’s gonna happen.)
Loads of titles are cheap. If the one you want isn't cheap, it will be at some point if you show a little patience.
If you have a sudden yen to read a particular title, provided it's available, the whole thing can be on your device in under a minute.
You can get free samples of titles to try before you buy.
The battery lasts for ages.
You can read magazines and newspapers on it (Ihave never done this).
Does it annoy you that it's awkward to read areal book while lying on your side in bed??? Ooh, it really annoys me. Well, on a Kindle, it's not nearly as annoying! It just perches there, in line with your face, and your hand doesn't have to defy gravity or perform feats of super human endurance and strength to keep the pages visible. It's a very comfortable experience and certainly my favourite aspect of being a Kindle-owner. It is!
The screen savers are fabulous and sometimes alittle eerie. They're so STILL.
It doesn't smell of anything.

Kindle let-downs:
The battery sometimes runs out when I am not at home and without a charger. But that's my fault, really – you are certainly given plenty of fore warnings.
No page numbers! I assume the cool new ones have this though. My model is kind of old-school now, I think. Nonetheless, it feels weird tracking your progress through a book in percentages.
There are some (not many) titles which are not available.
You can't just flick to a page (I know there will be a way but I haven't worked it out and again, it's probably a piece of cake on the new-fangled ones).
You don't get that smug sense of satisfaction, lining up and admiring all the spines of your personal library in your Billy bookcase.
You can't pass on your book to someone else when you're finished with it.
You can't write an inscription in the cover if it's a gift.
You can't stick a bookplate in it.
You can't use a bookmark.
It's from Amazon and I suppose they're not too admirable just now.
The initial outlay will account for a fairly decent chunk of your hard-earned readies.
It doesn't smell of anything. OK, so sometimes that is sort of nice...

{the perfect Kindle foil}

Ms Abel lent me her well-worn copy of Roald Dahl's "My Uncle Oswald". One of my favourite reads of the year so far. Some dubious, vaguely misogynistic moments and references to the male member as a battering ram or a jousting stick or something... Still, in the main, a tale which is highly original, rollicking and perfectly saucy in the most British of ways.

{one of the bookplates given to me as a gift by the one and only Trayns}

In conclusion, why compare these two completely different ways of reading? It's still reading - who cares what it’s written on?Folks started out with what was available to them – cave walls. Surely the readers of days gone by (don’t ask me which days, I’m not a historian – this is a lifestyle blog!) didn’t complain when papyrus or vellum or whatever replaced stone tablets. People shouldn’t get so het up about it - it's just book evolution. It’s not as if we’re burning all printed texts. Writing is still as valued as ever: now we're just lucky enough to be able to choose what we'd like to read it on. And I choose both!

It’s not about the medium, people, it’s about the words.

Love Liverpool Lou x.

1 comment:

  1. Like those bookplates a lot, not heard of Mac & Ninny before but just looked them up and they do so much nice stuff.