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It’s impossible to keep up with technology. Every month, ever week, practically every day ushers in a new gizmo or gadget that immediately makes last week’s innovation dated and passé. The goal posts are always moving.
But surely there has to a line that’s drawn when technology goes too far – a point when it tries to supercede everything before it that it becomes irrelevant, pointless and unnecessary. Should technology try to go one better just because it can?
The kindle is a perfect example. Books have existed for hundreds of years and done very well, thank you. If you want the latest Stephen King or a back-issue of Bukowski all you have to do is pop to your nearest bookshop and the tome of choice is yours.
Not anymore. Now you can use the miracles of modern technology to read from a book that really isn’t a book. You can recreate the experience of reading a book without actually picking one up. Which, to my mind, begs the question – why bother? Why not stick to the real thing?
It’s not that I’m a technophobe or Luddite; it’s just that technology should have a place, a purpose, a function, but Kindle’s are trying to reinvent the wheel.
It’s A Physical Thing
You just can’t beat the physical sensation of reading a paperback. Holding it, flicking through it, the physical manifestation of the pages and the smell of the ink. And I used the word sensation deliberately – to me it is a sensual experience. The pleasure of the pages in your hand.
For many people books have a long association with memory. A book you read when you were young, when you broke up, when you made up, when you were going through a good time or bad time, when you were on a particular holiday. Whatever the connection, a book can be a very personal, private, emotional thing. It’s not just an object; it’s a window to the past, a physical link to times, places and circumstances.
Despite the proliferation of technological advances, the cumulative effect seems to be that it increasingly detracts for a more intimate, personal experience. Holding a piece of plastic can never compete to holding a book. A piece of plastic is so cold, detached and impersonal; a book is none of those things.
A Book Doesn’t Need a Battery
The latest Jilly Cooper won’t require four AA batteries no matter how many times you read it. So Kindles brag about one month battery life. So what? A physical book will last a lifetime without ever needing a charger.
No matter how much the advertisers boast about how many hundreds or thousands of books a Kindle can hold, there is nothing that can replicate the look, the feel, the comforting warmth a good bookshelf can evoke. A bookshelf is a representation of a personal reading history, a reminder of recollections, of moments, of years.
Not An Authentic Experience
Consider the following, designed by advertisers to tantalize you in to buying one: the screens “look and read just like real paper” and “have no glare”, it replicates the “characteristics of ink to appear clear and sharp”, “15% faster page turns”, and – perhaps most ridiculously of all – “you can read in any position”. It all begs the question: why not get the real thing? Books give you all those things as an authentic experience, not a technological, gimmicky one.
To me, it doesn’t matter how they try and sell it in any commercial, lights, bells, whistles and any amount of techno-hyperbole, there’s nothing more reassuring and comforting than a paperback.
Do you think that Kindles are the future of reading or a passing fad?
Author Byline: Gavin Harvey is a self-confessed fitness fanatic whose serious case of itchy feet has taken him all over the world. Now he prefers a quieter life watching classic movies and reading a good book. He blogs regularly for Litecraft Commercial.