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Why I hate my Kindle

And e-books in general.


Forget the fact that due to the razor and blades business model*, digital books bought from the Kindle store are more expensive than physical books. Forget that they decided to bring out a new, higher specification Kindle for £140 three weeks after I bought mine at £300. And forget that e-books can’t be used as an opening in the dating game. I hate my Kindle for more emotional reasons; Pride and Shame.

On the virtuous side of pride; I want to be able to smell a book, see myself blazing a path through it, feel the balance change as I hack away page by page and chapter by chapter, and hear the victorious thump as the giant falls, fully read, to the ground (and then on Mum’s orders to the bookshelf). With an e-book all you get is constancy, the same smell- depending on the contents of your bag; the same view with a status bar informing you that you’re 23 percent through; the same distribution of 240 grams as you click through the pages, and don’t drop it!- it’ll break. Hardly inspiring.

And on the smug side of pride; When I buy a book, I really want to go up to the cashier with an air of “Yeah. I just picked up George Orwell’s Why I Write and Why Does E=mc2”. When I walk around with a book in my hand instead of in the bag on my shoulder, I want people to say, there goes an intellectual (a false assumption in my case).** You can’t really show off to the person on the other end of your Kindle transaction- and it’s probably automated anyway. And when out with a Kindle, the only thing people are thinking is “There goes a douchebag, showing off his gadgets” and I’d rather be a douchebag with books than a douchebag with a gadget.

As for shame, let’s take one of the advantages of an e-book: They can contain up to 3,500 books! I have about 10 books on my Kindle, but there’s no pile on the floor pushing at my shame buttons. When I lose motivation, a pile screams, “Get me off this floor”. Not finishing a book is also uneasy since I can see the point at which I stopped, dog eared with the slight deformation of the binding. It’s easy to get rid of any shame from an e-book, just don’t turn it on.

From the above, you can see the problem I have when reading; a loss of motivation especially with the weightier, more technical books. Having the physical book provides the needed motivation to read and that is something an e-book just cannot give.


* According to a new paper [Abstract], the razor and blades business model was not actually followed by the Gillette corporation at its start.

** As put by this guy (good post), I  think an “aspirational fantasy for people who see themselves as intellectuals” is a good thing.

Categories: books, reading Tags: , , ,
  1. 20/09/2010 at 9:42 am

    Do you actually have a Kindle or do you just hate it theoretically?

    • 20/09/2010 at 10:11 am

      I do have a Kindle. I use it for reading pdf docs I can’t be bothered to print and books whose licenses have expired (they’re free).

      • 20/09/2010 at 10:34 am

        No wonder you hate it. PDF docs don’t look good on small eReaders. In my experience, the only ones who do it justice is the iPad or the big eReaders like the DX.

        My dad used to turn his nose up at the Kindle freebies, but Amazon has been releasing a bunch of nonfiction lately, so he’s happier.

      • 20/09/2010 at 6:57 pm

        I did use it to read books for a while, but then got annoyed and stopped. I guess reading PDFs moved me from annoyance to hate.

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