15/02/2014 um 10:18

revisited: the kindle vs paper books

Abgelegt unter: Buchrezensionen

I own my Kindle now for roughly 1,5 years and I think it’s time for this avid paper book lover to evaluate this ride. Frankly, I don’t use it as often as I could, but that has more to do with me forgetting to read than anything else. I don’t read more paper books. Or less, because of it.

It took me a while to come to the conclusion that the media that contains and delivers a story, is totally irrelevant. Be it a paper book, a movie, a video game, a comic strip or a file on the Kindle, if it has a compelling story that grips me, it has fulfilled its purpose. The thing that is important is the story, not the media through which it is told.

What I like about the Kindle (and it’s associated iDevice apps) is the instant gratification. It is quite amazing to have access to the content of a book 2 seconds later. That totally floats my boat. The other thing I like: The price of the books. As I more or less exclusively read books in English, and these bookmarkets have different price politics, British and American ebooks come with a decidedly lower pricetag than their German counterparts.

Then the Kindle comes with useful functions like highlighting and notes and such, which is great if I read reference books. It has adjustable font sizes! And of course, the 47 books on it would take up quite a lot of real estate in my bookshelf.

And yet I prefer paper books. Not for the smell, their touch or other nostalgic nonsense. I prefer them because they are a work of art, put together by a handful of artists. First, the author, then the typesetter and the cover designer, then the printer and the bookbinder. Having encountered quite a lot of badly formatted Kindle books, I came to appreciate the work of somebody who knows how to set a page.

I don’t care if a 200 pages long romance novel comes on digital paper, but I doubt I would want to read those five volumes of Modesty Blaise comic strips I recently bought, on the Kindle. It would work, of course, but I won’t enjoy it that much. And I do read comics on my iPad, so it’s not that.

What I mean is: As a consumer I find it great to have so many options. Both have their merits and their downsides, but I find it stupid that for so many people it has to be “either or” – why not enjoy the heck out of both? Why am I supposed to chose a side? I refuse to do that. I like to collect paper books and I like to read my chick lit on the Kindle. I will buy a book in dead tree form because I loved the ebook version. It is great that self-publishing and ebooks allow for obscure niches to pop up, that it gives authors a chance that would never land a deal in traditional publishing. Who knew that dinosaur smut would find readers? And it’s equally nice to have curators who filter all those many stories and bring out what they believe are the best ones, through the traditional way.

Stories have existed before books, and they will live on in any form of media we put them in. And that’s a very comforting thought.

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