Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why the Kindle v/s Physical Book is a non-existent debate

(Friendly warning: This blog is penned to encourage a healthy exchange of opinions. Comments of the 'You're-an-idiot-because-you-can't-afford-a-Kindle' kind will not be tolerated. Leave comments that convince me that you've a brain and we can take it from there. Feel free to oppose my point-of-view. I'll like you a lot more if you don't, though. Cheers.)

I'm a stubborn little twit when it comes to certain things. And when I'm completely convinced that my point of view is THE only possible point-of-view, I refuse to see sense. Very cow-like I know. But what to do?

Which is why, I absolutely don't get this whole Kindle v/s Physical Book debate that people are having these days. I mean, what's there to debate about? It's like debating whether walking is better than hailing a cab, or whether sex without a condom is better than sex with one on (don't ask me what's better. I don't know). But the debates ARE pointless. Get what I mean?

And if you don't already know which side of the debate I am on, you're a douche bag.

How can anything, anything remotely substitute the feel of a book? However new, shiny and filled-to-the-brim with orgasmic features your bloody Kindle is. Come to think of it, my bone of contention is just that. Having a book that does stuff it isn't supposed to do in the first place. I'm sorry I'm old-fashioned, but I don't think I want my book to automatically turn pages at the click of a button. And no, I don't want to be able to stick a headphone into it, so that it doubles up as an audio-book. If I want an audio-book, I'll get it myself, thanks.

I don't want to be able to download my book. I want to be able to buy it. Smell it. Lovingly run my finger along its binding. Cringe when the cover gets dog-eared. Get pissed if someone folds a page instead of get a bloody bookmark.

Call me pseudo, call me a weirdo, but I think visiting a bookshop is an integral part of my life. The feeling of wanting to buy the whole bookstore (except where the Twilight series is stocked, thank you very much. I'm still trying to con someone into taking my copies), the sheer delight at holding a book I've been wanting to buy for the longest time, sifting through rows and rows of books, sitting down on the pouffe at leisure and reading a big chunk off a random book, the feeling of curling up under the quilt on a rainy day with a great book, there's so much more to a physical book than it being a mere book. Geddit?

So then, how are you going to get all of this with a Kindle?

Sure. It holds like a few thousand books. It turns pages at a click. It runs on batteries. It cuts down on all the space you'd need for your books, the pros are endless. But are they really pros?

Firstly, do you need thousand odd books on you at all times? How many books can one human being read at one go? Five, if you stretch your imagination to snapping limits?

Secondly, who the eff needs pages that turn at a click? How much effort does it take to turn a freakin' page? So what if an actual book needs both your hands? What are you going to do with your other hand when you're reading anyway? (Hmm...A Kindle may be useful when you're reading erotica, but that's the only advantage I can see as far as the use of one hand is concerned.)

Next, the whole concept of battery-operated books is so unnatural. Like a baby born with a complete set of pearlies and painted toe-nails. It's against the law of nature, that's what's wrong!

And that brings me to the biggest pro-Kindle argument that fans have: It saves you space that books will take up.

This leaves me most flummoxed. But that may be because I don't see books as a waste of space. They're an integral part of my house. Like sofas. Or the dining table. So, my family takes up space in my house. That does NOT mean I will replace them with robots now, will I, just because robots can keep my house clean and do my dishes with utmost precision?

And how can something that's important to you be considered a waste? Our clothes and shoes probably take up more space than is considered normal, but we don't stop buying them, do we? Neither have we come up with electronic, space-saving alternatives to clothes, as far as I know.

So if you haven't got it already, the point I'm trying to make is, that in my opinion, you will somehow accommodate things that are important to you, without looking for easier alternatives.

Sure, you can download a book from an e-book website, but what can be more fun than waiting outside a bookstore hours before a much-anticipated book is going to be released? Or going and picking up a pre-ordered book from the shop?

If you're a true-blue book lover, you won't really mind the space crunch and the other 'inconveniences'.

It's like having a baby. It poops, it cries at midnight and can't even distinguish its teeth from its nose. But heck, it's still perfect!


Aditya Nandode said...

One point i would like to add, when you want to impress someone of intellectual kind, without looking to obvious, a library of books with varied subject titles, and some quotes from them when asked, works much better than Kindle(which means a basket full of kittens-literally), because then you would have to switch it on and show. It's like one more toy.

Sanjay said...

Nice blog post. Liked it :)

Couple of thoughts to put across

Even I feel that there is no fun reading an e-book or using a device to read a book. The "mazaa" factor of reading a book lying on bed or rolling on the floor is absolutely missed.

But on the other side, having it as an add-on is not at all bad considering the kind of storage it has. Also the major issue is being habituated to it. Now that reading books is a habit we had from last many years its hard to take a shift completely. However, Always they are good as an add-on.

Keep up the good work.


Toon India said...

completely agree with you ....that feelingof holding can't be replaced by any electronic device...however the pattern of book buying is definately moving towards online.. that said something should remain the way they are!!

Anonymous said...

Haven't tried the Kindle, although it is on my shopping list. My problem isn't with books - I love the way they are, but it is their bulk and the indexing (or the lack of it). I prefer to read books where I go back to the good parts and read them twice/thrice and having a Kindle makes searching easier. The other problem I have is with font sizes - I love large font sizes that are easy to read when the book's at a distance from your eyes, and Kindle does this well, I believe.

I travel a lot and like to take my books with me and buy new ones on the go. Kindle's biggest USP for me is its portability and the number of books you can buy/store on it that are mainstream. I do read books on my laptop ... but nobody in their right mind read books on their laptops!

I guess this is why I like the Kindle and look forward to buying one next month - although I love books. I'll probably consume both types of books - ebooks and conventional ones.

I don't want this to sound like a Kindle endorsement - I guess many of the things I've said apply to the Sony e-Reader and the Barnes and Noble Nook, too.

Kiran said...

Great post and I completely agree. I am the old-fashioned kind too, in this regard. This is also the reason I don't prefer the PDF books. I want to be able to lie down on my bed, twist and twirl with my face and the book forming various angles while reading. No kindle or anything is going to replace that feeling!

People have tried to convince me about the advantages of the e-readers like kindle. But I don't think i'm going to get one anytime soon!

Sakshi said...

Hmmmm here is the deal, it sucks to read on an e-book.Trust me coz, I just finished reading 3 books, oops e-books. For one, it slows you down considerably and then you really can't follow the damn thing, properly.
A book is a treasure and it keeps adding up to you. PLUS- A kindle is expensive... you can get a cheap 2nd hand book, or borrow it from a library...but you can't really show off a 2nd hand toy can you??

Mugger Much said...

I disagree.

I've been reading e-books since 2001, on my smartphone and on my PC. One of the biggest reasons I've read as much as I have is because of e-books (and you know how much stuff I've read, Moo). So the first point I'd like to highlight is that e-books have been the primary factor behind my "liberal arts" education.

I think it's difficult to pinpoint where exactly the line is drawn between what is a book and what isn't. To draw out an analogy, there are still quite a few audiophiles who insist true music can only be heard on vinyl; every other format is for philistines. Does that mean we throw out our precious ipods and ban MP3s?

Personally, considering how big a bibliophile I am, I feel quite the quisling in slamming down hard on the side of e-books. I love the smell of paper, its texture, its feel. (I suspect a manuscript fetish buried deep in my psyche.) Having said that, however, to me, nothing matches the convenience of reading on my Kindle. I buy whatever I want and get it on my device within 30 seconds, and it's far easier on the eyes (and hands) than reading the latest 800-page paperback brick by Stephen King. And did I mention that reading on the Kindle feels just like reading a book, in terms of fonts and eye strain?

There's a point in time when your urge to feel paper is overpowered by your brain's hunger for words. That's when you'll succumb to e-books, the Kindle, the works.

Paper's an old technology. Maybe it's time to do a Fahrenheit 451 on it.

G@K said...

Ok...I did not read the entire blog post because it as too long...and I was hungry. But I agree that a physical book is much better than an e-book reader. The only reason I would want one is because in Australia, books are bloody expensive. Not to mention that carrying more than one book at a time becomes a bit ridiculous. So while in India we can get cheap books off the road, over here you have to pay a premium price just so that you can keep reading. And I also think that it is more ecological if you get an EBR. One more advantage that an e-book or an EBR would offer is the facility to search. Let's not forget that not all the books we read are to be read in the suggested order. Every once in a while when you need to research a topic ctrl+f is a faster option compared to the index. I am not giving any deep insight into this argument, but I wish I had an EBR when I was reading LOTR. Having a heavy book fall on your nose while lying down is very painful! ;)

Sreejit said...

Iam with you on this one. I just cant read an e-book, so kindle is just not the thing for me. I need to feel the book, turn the pages to derive the ultimate pleasure of reading a book.
I especially liked the erotica example :P

Regarding space, one could always signup with libraries, if storing them is a pain.

Janam Tapitright said...

Moo moo moo yes the cow has spoken. good arguments. I can add one. If a guy tries to get physical a girl can always clobber him with a physical book. Always carry a book, if not for reading at least for self protection. Make it a hard bound book with a real hard cover! Mercuryman3a (on Twitter)

niki said...

yah ryt, lets start posting letters..why use email when you can ''touch'' and ''feel'' the postcards..!

Magali said...

I agree with your viewpoint that the two can't really be compared. I too love love love books. They can never be replaced (or can they?)
As much as I love the feel, etc. of books, I see why people could be switching to eBook readers (is that how it's written, or do I have Apple-fever?)
But people are using Kindles for lot of reasons. I mean, think about it. You're going on a long holiday, & want to carry a LOT of books. Books are heavy. And bulky. A kindle, on the other hand, can save you a lot of space, weight. Well that's just how I see it! ;)

vibeZ said...

well, am a guy who believes in the best of both worlds. am a total gadget freak and would love to own a Kindle. so far, am doing all my reading on teh laptop ( as hard as it is) but i love reading real books.

though the ideal situation would be to get hold of that paperback, finances can really limit ur ability to get hold of the books you want. ebooks - no such problem.

but if there is a book which really has to be read as its meant to, then u gotta pick one up from the store. i've got a mish mash collection of books, i've picked from varied sources and places... even stolen.

as soomeone else commented, when the quest is for knowledge, then it doesnt matter how you get it ! whatsay ?