Archive for December 9, 2012

Why I Hate Kindles


Ok, just for the sake of an argument: The format by which we access shapes the content. The easiest example is the difference between seeing a film in a cinema (projected and reflected light) and watching a film on a TV or LED screen. That 700-year-old artifact called a book has been shaping the intake of our knowledge for as long in subtle ways that nonetheless include the reader in continuity across language and genre with other readers down the centuries. Books are often personalised objects that anchor us within the experience of what we have read. They are also objects of legacy, often handed down from previous generations or gifted. They are objects as events imbedded with emotive resonance. The flaw of an electronic book is that it is so easy not to read; to begin and skim and never finish while still delivering the affect of ‘having read’ the work. A book has physical pages that must be turned, bookmarked or dog-eared. We know instinctively before we think about it whether or not we’ve ‘read that book’, started to read that book, ever finished that book or need to finish ‘that book’. That’s lost in a Kindle, iPod-like portable library. Sure, you can think about whether or not you’ve actually read or finished that work; but it doesn’t provide the same visceral certainty a volume does. Also, the intimate subjectivity of the reading is diminished; wherever you took that book to read it. Kindles are not objects that engender the same subjective intimacy. They are electronic, plugged in, recharged and interchangeable. It is the loss of the value of the artifact that I regret the smell of paper, glue and sometimes leather, which are the book’s ‘platform’ for my senses. I’ve got nothing against Kindles, although like screens their delivery of direct light to my retina is not natural and does physically limit the amount of time I spend reading on screen. Unlike a book, which I can cheerfully read from tactile cover to cover in one sitting and close with the incomparable feeling of satisfaction of the completion its author intended. I rest my case ;~)