About a year ago, I would have answered yes to the question I have proposed above, grabbed the aforementioned Kindle and thrown it back at Amazon in complete disgust. Fast-forward to present day and in fact, I would answer no, but interestingly enough would lovingly embrace the Kindle offered to me. I do believe that as a result of electronic books the popularity of the printed book is declining; but not altogether, and for some reasons I actually believe it is a good sacrifice to make.
“NO!” I hear you scream, and run over to prevent me from ever working on my English Literature degree ever again. As a devotee to my subject, you’d expect me to be a total book geek, right? Of course I am, however, there is something I find brilliant about the Kindle. If you have to study classical literature like I do, you can easily download works such as The Iliad and The Odyssey for absolutely nothing. Of course the Kindle will cost you a lump sum to begin with, but it most certainly costs far less than my entire bibliography for my degree. I am also going to study 19th-century novels next year, and most of them, including Austen, Dickens and the Bronte sisters, are totally free.
Also, if you choose to live off-campus and have to commute a hideous journey to university every morning and afternoon, your Kindle will solve all of your travelling troubles and will not only make your bag a lot lighter, but allow you to read in the dark if it is one of the versions that comes with a light.
Another thing which I believe is fantastic about the Kindle is the way that it has suddenly made reading more popular, and brought it into modern-day society. Being an English Literature student I have always wanted more people to read, and seeing an increasingly large amount of people reading on the bus, train, or in the park makes me really happy. And hearing people talking about books at work. I think it is so important to read just to open people’s minds – and if the Kindle helps achieve that, why on earth would I hold it back?
Although the Kindle has a variety of exciting abilities and can make transportation a little easier, there’s certain things a printed book can do that electronics can’t. The smell of a book when you open it is divine, and you can make a copy truly yours by scribbling notes all over it (this is especially important for a student). Something else which students would struggle with would be finding particular quotations or their favourite sections – particularly if you’re a visual thinker and remember roughly how far through the book it is, rather than a percentage on a screen. That’s slightly too mathematical for me.
There’s still a part of me which finds everything about a physical book so charming. Without printed books, you wouldn’t be able to lend a novel you particularly loved to a friend, or buy a meaningful present instead of a voucher. You wouldn’t be able to walk into a library and browse until your eyes became permanently crossed, and you definitely wouldn’t be able to “borrow” a book for free. You couldn’t sneak into your boyfriend’s bedroom, take a peek at his bookcase and learn about his childhood books. I don’t even think reading to children would be the same. The colours wouldn’t be as bright and pop-up pictures would be a thing of the past.
And that is why I don’t think electronic books will destroy printed books entirely. They have too much sentimentality for people, and living in our increasingly technology-based world can become slightly tiring at times. There’s something refreshingly traditional about sitting in front of the fire with a cup of tea and a good novel. Sorry, Amazon – your Kindle will just never replace that gem of simplicity.