To Kindle or not to Kindle?
I’ve been asking myself that question since I gave the popular e-reader a try almost a decade ago. For a few years, I was a strong and exclusive Kindle believer. The ease with which you can get books — even borrowing them from libraries — converted me. I started reading more than I had in years just because of how convenient it was. I never ran out of things to peruse and devour, even if I couldn’t make it to the bookstore. And I frequently used the option to send free samples of books to my Kindle. You can do that from Amazon because the first few pages of books are free to browse in the same way you’d read a few pages of a novel at your local bookstore before deciding on buying something.
E-readers are also a great option for travelers and commuters — I’ve carried my share of 700-plus-page paperback books inside of purses and backpacks, and those things are heavy. They also take up a lot of space and aren’t the most convenient if you’re standing in the middle of a crowded subway train during rush hour — I’m perfectly aware the chances of that are much less common these days, but still.
Reading a digital book also allowed me to constantly educate myself. You can learn the meaning of a word by just tapping it on your digital device and waiting for the dictionary definition to appear. My Kindle Paperwhite has a lighted touchscreen that lets me read in bed even without having my nightstand’s light on; it can be useful if my husband is already sleeping. The function can also come in handy in dark planes where you don’t want to disturb the sleeping passenger sitting next to you.
And I’ve never been one for highlighting much, but readers also like the ability to underline passages in books and keep those meaningful quotes easily accessible when opening the book from any Kindle-app-supporting device.
But even with all the advantages, and even though I’ve moved many times — having to fill boxes with physical books and then transport them across the country or even across an ocean is not only costly but a pain — more and more I found myself buying a book in physical format even after I’d read it on Kindle. For the most part, if I’ve enjoyed reading something, I want to also be able to have that book in my library — my physical library, that is.
My Kindle Book Library Isn’t Completely Fulfilling
I see my Kindle book library as an incomplete affair. You can conveniently access yours from the Kindle app on your cell phone, on your actual e-reader or even on your desktop from Amazon’s homepage (go to Your Account > Content & Devices). But, for some reason, books feel a little bit less real, less palpable for sure, if I only own them digitally. And finding a particular excerpt tends to be a lot harder than it is if I can grab the actual book and flick through it.
These days I fall somewhere in between total-Kindle-convert and hoarder-of-paper-volumes. Once I realized I needed most of the books I’ve read electronically also on paper, I started buying a lot of used books. Plus, even though I love my Kindle, I’ve been trying to avoid Amazon as much as possible when it comes to books; I prefer to support my local bookstores. And, yes, book spines make for the perfect Zoom background.
I haven’t stopped buying books on Amazon altogether. Sometimes I succumb to its ease. Non-English books are sometimes faster to find. Plus, the Kindle keeps supplying a constant flow of reading material if for any reason the shipment of books from the local bookstore hasn’t still been delivered.
But ask me about my library again the next time I move. I have a feeling I’m going to be regretting my taste for accumulating literature in analog format.