Purveyor of fine fantasy adventures

To e-read, or not to e-read?

I have been a strident advocate of real books, but Amazon’s relentless Christmas advertising campaign got to me, and convinced me that I needed a Kindle – even though I didn’t actually want one. Add that to my Christmas loot burning a hole in my pocket, and the result was inevitable.

I have to say, it’s impressed me. Beautifully engineered, it is light, readable, vastly more portable than the chunky hardbacks in my library, great for train/plane/long stay in hospital. But it will not replace the paper book in my heart.

Why? An e-reader doesn’t smell right or feel right and has no substance.  Reading an ebook is just like reading a technical pdf (and I had quite enough of them in my last job, thank you very much). It’s utilitarian. It has no soul. And I can’t take it into the bath.

Picking up the Kindle is nothing like walking into my library and seeing the rows of old friends on the shelves, each one of which instantly evokes a fragment of the story, or the holiday where I first read it, or the birthday for which it was a present. An e-reader to me is a tool, and as unromantic as a screwdriver.

We all need screwdrivers sometimes, but we don’t keep them on display like the best china. We bring them out when we need them, then put them away again. And so it will be with my Kindle, I think.

I’ve just finished reading my first ebook, and if the author wasn’t a friend I would feel no compunction whatsoever about deleting it from the device. Yet every paper book I’ve ever bought remains on the shelves in the library – even the ones I didn’t really enjoy that much – and anyone who tries to get me to part with any of them is liable to get hurt.

Oh, come on. Which of these two would you rather pick up?



  1. Bob

    My Kindle has been joining me in the bath for over two years Ellie, and it’s fine. In a whole lifetime of reading in the bath I think I’ve dropped a book in just the once. Given the number of baths I’ve had, it’s a risk I’m prepared to take.

    The pragmatist in me loves my Kindle and since I spend over two hours a day on a bus getting to and from the office, I wouldn’t be without it.

    The romantic in me still loves the feel and smell of a book.

    What many people in the whole ebook debate seem to forget though, is that the most important thing is what’s in the book: a great story, beautifully written is what it’s really all about.

    BTW: Don’t try to read any kind of reference book on a Kindle, it just doesn’t work. Sequential text only.

  2. fred limberg


    Here’s a trick for you to use with your new shiny. Convert something you want to read, which can include passages of your work you’re trying to get a feel for, things friends send you, whatever…..Make it a PDF file…jink it up to 22 in size and make the font ARIAL…

    it will read on your kindie almost perfectly

    no MOBI needed…

    you’re welcome!


  3. Sam Adamson

    No contest! It’s the papery one on the right for me. If my iPod hadn’t come with an e-book reader I doubt very much whether I’d have ever bothered with one. That said, I also have a bit of an issue with Kindle. The Kindle for PC program allows me to add free e-books in Kindle format to it, but the iPod app will only sync those Kindle books I’ve bought from Amazon, both of them.

  4. Gary Cowell

    This. I’ve got all the technology going, and the Kindle 3 is a very impressive bit of kit. My problems with it are manifest though.

    It doesn’t feel, smell or handle like a book. The refresh annoys me, my reading speed if I’m reading easy SciFi can be such that eBook readers spend a lot of time refreshing and that flash still gets on my nerves. That’s one collection of issues.

    The next collection of issues is, I haven’t found anything on Kindle store I want to read. The last three books I’ve looked for haven’t been on there. Some others have been on Kindle store but the eBook price has been higher than the hardback, which isn’t so good.

    Thirdly, I have grave misgivings over Amazon’s Book Burning policy. Witness the issue with Amazon deleting paid-for copies of 1984 from peoples Kindles. An issue which they promised they wouldn’t repeat… And then they did.

    It’s great hardware. But for me, it’s not a book. If I could get technical journals on it, things like Focus, New Scientist, then I might use one for that stuff.

    A book it is not.

    Sorry for the long post!

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