No one could be more surprised than I am at how much I have come to like my Kindle. (And I didn’t even mention the part about how I doubt silverfish infestations are a worry with an old Kindle.)
But the war isn’t yet over, folks. There are still some ways that real paper books are still superior to eReaders. At least… for now:
- Longer battery life. I figured out (or did I read it in the materials?) that leaving the WiFi off except when I’m actually downloading something has a huge impact on battery life. Without the WiFi access, I can read my Kindle for weeks without recharging it. Still, the time does come. On the other hand, I have never once had to plug in a book to recharge it.
- Fully acclimated. One of the warnings I worried about, as Kindles were being bought and shipped for Christmas last year, was the reports that the devices don’t hold up well to cold. I’ve never had a book freeze up, even if it got literally frozen up. (Heck, on Friends, Joey would store The Shining in his freezer to keep himself “safe” when it got too scary. Not a good idea on a device. Similarly…
- Beach ready. I love to read on the beach. I can run through an entire (small) library on a week-long vacation. And hey, books are heavy to pack, won’t an eReader be great for that? Well, no, not really. At least, not without a very secure cover. Because a little sand in my paper books may not be great for the binding, but it will utterly destroy an electronic gadget. And water! If I get my paper books wet, sure, they’ll expand to 4 times their size and never fit on the shelf again, but at least I can still read them if I want to; they don’t just turn into a waterlogged paperweight.
- Share and share alike. OK, yes, there’s a Kindle lending library. Kind of. I’m sure these things will get better and better. But with my paper books, I can read them, love them, and share them with a friend (even a friend on the far side of the world)… or I can mooch a book from a friend who’s bought it and not yet gotten around to reading it (seriously, man, I will get that back to you). For now, that whole concept of loaning-borrowing of literature is just not smooth or easy on eReaders. Yet.
- No need to power off. The jury is still out, last I heard, on just how much devices – internet-enabled or otherwise – impact the systems of airplanes. For now, we are all just asked to turn our devices off (“anything with a power switch”) at takeoff and landing. For me, this is generally just a minor inconvenience (like flying needed any more inconveniences). Still, it’s frustrating to be number 37 in the takeoff line on the tarmac, and not be able to access my flight-time-passing-mechanism. Plus, I know some nervous flyers and for them, takeoff and landing are the most harrowing parts of the experience. Hence, these are the parts during which they most need the distraction of a good read.
I’m sure things on many of these fronts will continue to improve. Until that day, though, I’ll continue to be of two minds about the relative merits of my beloved paper books versus my new Kindly friend.
How about you? Which side of the equation do you tend to land on?