I know I said I’d post my review of Empty Chairs, but I’m holding back on that until it’s appeared on Booksquawk. It’ll be here as well, though, in due course. I’m still busy so this is just a quick musing on reading Kindle books.
The ease of buying them is terrific – see a review, remember a title, get a recommendation, whatever, and it’s waiting for you in less than a minute.
… with each of the books I’ve read on it (7 at the last count), when I finished, I felt deprived. I enjoyed each one a lot and so, when I switched off after the last page, there was nothing there to cradle, no unique object that held the story inside it. Yes, it’s still in the Kindle and I can return to it, but it’s just in there with all the others, as well as some huge freebies that I downloaded, and they’re all represented by the flat grey thing and a dead screen. So there’s no external thing that holds the emotions, laughs, sadnesses, delights, puzzles, and all the other things I get from reading – each time a different mix. Usually, when I finish a ‘normal’ book, I leave it on the desk or the bedside table before putting it back on the shelf and each time I see it, it reminds me of what’s in it and recalls some of the instants I enjoyed from it. The story has a physical reality.
(and here’s where it gets a bit weird), in a way, that gives the reading experience a different quality. Because reading – for me anyway – is an abstract thing. OK, I have physical responses to it – laughing, yelling ‘That’s crap’ now and then, flinging a book aside when it’s been carelessly written or is literally unbelievable – but when I’m involved in it, it takes me away from my physical context, even from my self. And the way the Kindle’s words flash onto the screen and then, as you ‘turn the page’, disappear to be replaced by others, that’s sort of abstract, too. There’s no rustle of paper, no feel of it in your fingers – there are just shifting words, forming on and disappearing from the featureless, unchanging slab in front of you. You’ve no idea how many more pages there are till the end, there’s not the growing chunk in your left hand and diminishing one in your right. Just one page, always one page – the perpetually repeating present of the story and of the reading experience. And when you finish reading the last one, you ‘turn’ it and the screen is blank, the book’s gone, the experience has flitted and there’s only the memory left. So the reader has no physical context, and neither does the book.
I’ll certainly use my Kindle a lot, but I suppose I’m a romantic and I’ll always want ‘real’ books, too.