Right, this is a bit of rant, just so you are pre-warned! Anyone who reads my tweets may have seen this coming...
I am getting a bit naffed off with people slagging off those of us who prefer to read e-books. Lately I have seen various articles where people, who often don't seem to have ever tried one, feel it's perfectly reasonable to be rude about fans of the kindle, nook and their kind. The most recent one I've seen is one in which Penelope Lively (who I used to rate but am now rapidly going off of) has declared we are "bloodless nerds" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/jul/11/penelope-lively-kindle?CMP=twt_gu) There was another one last week that also got my goat but typically I now can't find it to share.
I would just like to point out my preference for e-book over tree book does not make me a philistine (or indeed bloodless, or soulless) While I wouldn't deny anyone their opinion belittling a group of people because of their personal preferences seems pretty juvenile to me. By all means state your preference and reasons but less of the name calling please!
I have no problem with books, or with people that like the smell and feel of them, but personally I have too many of them, and I'm more about the content and the writing than the delivery system. Do I not like the tactile experience a book provides? Yes, absolutely, and I was concerned at first that I would miss turning the page, but I find the leather and felt cover on my beloved e-reader a far nicer experience than a mass market paperback, and have no problem with pushing a button instead. And why the apparent assumption that you can only read one or the other? I suspect lots of e-book lovers probably still have shelves of books, or will continue to buy the books they really like in a physical format. It doesn't have to be us vs them.
Maybe I am just missing the articles that declare people who still prefer a physical book are Luddites. If anyone wants to provide me with links that pursue that argument, to give me a sense of balance, I'd be delighted. In the meantime I'm thinking that there are a lot of people out there who are afraid of change and feel threatened by it.T hat or it's just an extension of the sort of snobbery that persists in relation to, horror of horrors, the rise of the self-publisher or indie author.
As to why I have, and prefer, a kindle (I haven't tried any other major players but I'm sure some of the arguments are equally applicable)...
1) Storage! I have several book cases, most shelves have two rows of books jammed on, with more books laid on top. I DO love books and have a hard time getting rid of them. By being more selective about what I get in hard copy I can control my storage problem better.
2) Related to 1) is space - but in my handbag, or hand luggage. One the days I work I spend a lot of my time commuting, and there's very little worse than finishing one book and sitting twiddling your thumbs for ages because you don't have another with you. When we're off camping or flying somewhere it's a real boon being able to take more than enough books to keep even me going.
3) Choice. Yes, I will freely admit there is some absolute dross available for the kindle but I've also picked up some stinkers that have won major awards in physical copy. At least I have a huge range to pick from and the great Sample feature to help filter out anything too awful. Another admission, yes there have been books I'd like to read that aren't available, and other that have been "price fixed" by the publishers at a level I'm not prepared to pay, but I have the choice to go to a bookshop, or a library, or wait until it is available or the price is more palatable.
4) An enhanced experience. There are plenty of added features, but the only one I use regularly is the facility to look up a word in the dictionary. So simple, and I'm expanding my vocab no end. In the past I would have understood an unusual word in context but would never go to the effort of getting a dictionary out. Now it's so quick I'd be a fool not to.
5) An unexpected bonus - it's easier to read lying down than a book, at least if you, like me,hate your books less than pristine and refuse to risk a spine break. And when your days are as busy as mine a lot of reading gets done in bed!
6) Instant gratification. You have one of those moments where you're watching something or talking to a friend and a book is mentioned that you think you'd really like. Downloading takes a matter of seconds and there it is. No having to head into town or wait for the postman. Just so convenient.
7) I may not be a philistine but I am a bit of a cheapskate, so buying books from supermarkets to get a good deal was starting to limit my reading. (As above I'm a bit precious about my books being pristine so charity shops aren't much of an option for me) While Tesco, Asda and co are great for umpteen and one thrillers they're not so hot for anything more literary.While I don't think it's fair to authors to expect them to accept the 99c/72p price model I think it's a useful tool to introduce readers to new authors or new genres, and I've certainly widen the scope of my reading no end.
Now in the interests of balance, the one thing I really do prefer about a physical book is the cover art. Some of them truly deserve to be called art, and a small reproduction in black and white just isn't the same. I think that's about it though. I'm selfish and don't particularly care that I can't lend a copy in the same way. Maybe if books were still leather bound and gilt edged I might be a bit more sentimental about them.
My conclusion? Let the debate rage, but please no name calling children!