Thursday, 18 May 2017

5. Kindles

Don't get me wrong - people who won't move with the times are annoying. There's nothing worse than nostalgia for the good old days because, most of the time, the good old days were shit.

Now that's out of the way, I shall carry on moaning about the good old days. And today's piece of technology I can't/won't/haven't actually tried to embrace - Kindles.

The problem I have here is that there's no way to verbalise my dislike for Kindles without sounding like a bit of a dick. Describing the pleasure that comes from reading a physical book smacks of a high-school student writing a poem for National Poetry Day. It’s all rough paper beneath the fingers, curled edges, the soul and character of ink on the page.

In search of some more concrete reasoning I asked the internet to tell me the downsides of Kindles. The best I found was somebody's lament of “inability to skim as effectively”, which, along with sounding like some sort of sexual criticism, still feels like a pretty weak attack (as much as I love a good skim).

Slightly more compelling is the “death of the book-shelf” argument. If nothing else, books are useful decoration. A nicely displayed bookshelf makes you look intellectual (if you hide the easy books at the back).  And there’s something about a living room filled with books that speaks to Sunday mornings with coffee and croissants and sun pouring through the french windows (never-mind that you live in a third floor flat with a smokers' balcony that overlooks a rubbish pile and a man playing the accordian outside Sainbury's.)

And anyway - what is the point of  a Kindle? Does anyone really read so many books that they need to carry more than one at any given time? I know Kindle books are cheaper (it's something I'm cross about), and I know you get them instantly rather than waiting for the postman - but isn't a bit of delayed gratification a good thing? And think of all the posties you're doing out of a job. I don't see any of you writing letters for them to deliver.

Ultimately there is no way to express my dislike for the Kindle without embracing the tortured soul of the high-school poet. I like the feel of a book in the hand, the cosiness that comes from curling on the sofa with something tangible, something without a screen that can be bent and dirtied. And yes, the ability to flick back easily to the last chapter is a joy.

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