I’ve lost many books…

…but never one that cost $400.  And usually I lost them by loaning them out.  May as well give a book away if you’re going to loan it out.  In any case, Alan Jacobs is not so fortunate.  He lost his Kindle, and he’s not going back for more:

I don’t think I’m going to buy another one. In the previous couple of months I had been using it less and less, for several reasons. First, I was coming more and more to miss the look and feel of different books — I realized that many of my memories of books were linked to their appearance, to cover designs and typefaces, and I began to suspect that I was not remembering as much about the books I read on the Kindle.

I haven’t actually tried out the Kindle yet, but I can say with confidence that I don’t need to.  Part of that is the pricetag, but mostly it’s these other things – the smell of books, the tattered pages, the coffee stained pages.  Falling asleep reading them and waking to the paper in your hands, the light on.  Bookcases.  Bookstores.  I can’t trade all of this for a screen.  Not to mention I already print out anything longer than a page or two.  I can’t read from a screen.  They give me attention deficit disorder.

update.

This seemed like a fitting quotation (from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke):

“If you take a book with you on a journey…an odd thing happens:  The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it.  It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it … yes, books are like flypaper.  Memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”

Put that in your Kindle and smoke it….

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14 thoughts on “I’ve lost many books…

  1. A few years ago, I traveled to India for my best friend’s wedding. For the first week, I was on my own. It ended up being a rather lonely experience, with many train rides and plane trips in very unfamiliar territory. My companion for that week was Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. The memory of the book is inextricably linked with my memories of the north of India, and visa versa with my memories of the place. Somehow, my affection for both is enhanced by the combination.

    Perhaps it’s my inner curmudgeonly librarian coming out, but I don’t think I could ever love a Kindle the way I love books.

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  2. Interesting to hear Mr Kain. I still love the feel of a book in my hands. I had a few ebooks on my palm pilot, but was never really satisfied with the “feel” of it.

    I ended up building my http://neoscholar.com site because I love books, and to save me the effort of going to heaps of booksellers in search of a “dusty” bargain.

    If feels waaaay more natural sitting on the couch with a book I just bought, rather than tilting the screen of a laptop or palm pilot.

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  3. *sigh*

    I won’t bother to go into technical reasons about why the Kindle screen is not like your computer screen, because that seems beside the point. I get that curmudgeonliness is fun, but maybe what you need instead of a book is a camera. They’re generally a superior way to collect memories.

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  4. I get that curmudgeonliness is fun, but maybe what you need instead of a book is a camera. They’re generally a superior way to collect memories.

    Hmmm. Was I being curmudgeonly? I didn’t see that. You think it might be possible that it’s just a matter of taste?

    And believe me, I have a camera. It is a great way to capture memories. But I fail to see how the one replaces the other….

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    • I do believe you that it’s a matter of taste, but the expression of the sentiment was pretty curmudgeonly. “Put that in your Kindle and smoke it” indicates that you believe your preference isn’t simply about personal tastes. Maybe that’s not what you intended, but that’s how it sounds.

      I am not one to say you have to want/like a Kindle. If you think it’s worthwhile to judge a book by its cover, that’s your business. But please let’s not make this another Apple/PC debate.

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  5. I concur ED. My own personal hesitation with the Kindle is A) I’m a library guy. I hardly ever buy novels. I borrow them and return them. B) I don’t want to pay for newspapers I can read for free online. C) I get what you’re saying about memories. I read a thriller series on vacation a couple of years ago. Everytime I think of those books I also think of lying on a bunk in a cabin in New Hampshire, the smell of the lake and my kid’s sunscreen and the sound of my wife softly snoring on the bunk next to me. I can’t imagine ever getting that experience from a Kindle.

    With all of that said, I like the concept for media consumption, but the pricing model has got to change before I take a serious look.

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  6. Actually, there’s some data out there supporting your anecdotal observations about reading speed, comprehension and retention being tied to the tactile experience of reading. Reading speed and retention from the screen have historically scored rather lower in studies than the same measures of readers of the printed page.

    Here’s a helpful survey of previous research findings in this area http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~adillon/Journals/Reading.htm which takes a contrary viewpoint to the research they were reviewing, begging a larger and more focused study that includes current monitor technology ala “E-Ink” which works differently than a standard computer monitor… Interesting reading nonetheless.

    The caveat – of course – is that the differences might well turn out to be generational. The current studies are probably valid through the end of “Generation X”, which was the first generation to grow up with regular injections of electronic text.

    But I don’t want to blog in your comments section. Great blog! Thanks!

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  7. E.D., Without a library our house would enter a fit of depression. We are extremely fortunate to have a quality library system here in Louisville. Not too long ago we talked about moving to an adjacent country. Good schools? Check. Decent tax rate? Check. Good housing prices? Check. Good library system? Ummm…. we decided to stay where we were.

    It seems like the same laws that govern a library being able to purchase a book and then share it for free should apply to Kindle. Or better yet, one person buys the book through Kindle and then can ‘donate’ it to their local library.

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