Sunday, 8 January 2012

Kindles and page fondling

I got a Kindle for Christmas. Yay me. Not exactly newsworthy on its own, but I noticed something interesting the other day. When I'm reading a book I get a tactile experience that reminded me of the habit forming behaviours that go along with smoking. With the Kindle, my hands are fidgety.

I'm not a luddite in any sense. I love technology and usually can't wait to get my hands on new kit. I've only delayed getting a Kindle this long because of the sheer number of unread books in my house. I thought that having a Kindle would mean I wouldn't read any of them and I promised myself I could have it when I'd read all the unread books. What actually happened was that I kept buying books so the unread books pile is not that much smaller. I decided I would ask for a Kindle for Christmas, continue to read the unread books and only buy new ones for the Kindle.

Over the last few days I've had a bit of a cold so I grabbed a couple of books and headed for a snuggly blanket-laden sofa. I finished Others in hard copy then picked up my Kindle on which I am reading the first book club book of 2012 (it's awful, but more on that at the end of the month) and read that for a bit. Then I started on Finders Keepers in hard copy.

I had noticed with the Kindle that if I'm not careful I press the forward page buttons on the side and lose my place, so I have some difficulty finding a comfortable holding position. It doesn't yet feel quite right in my hands. When I picked up an actual book to read I found myself fondling the pages. There's something about the feel of the paper books are printed on - this particular book was using a soft but thick paper that was especially pleasing to the touch.

Part of the difficulty in overcoming addictions like smoking is the way our bodies get used to certain actions and sensations. So, it is not just the addiction to nicotine, but also the addiction to having something in our hands, to the feeling and motions, to the habit of the actions associated with smoking a cigarette. When you give up smoking, as I did five or six years ago, you have to give your hands something else to do.

It made me wonder if some people who are clinging to the printed book as the ultimate media for delivering fiction dislike e-book readers because they don't feel right in your hands. They feel different, and therefore, a bit strange. A little disconcerting, even. I wonder if the nay-sayers have an addiction to the physicality of books rather than to the content of books.

Maybe I'll just get a cover for my Kindle that is pleasing to the touch and that will solve the problem. Maybe that's why most seem to be in suede.

3 comments:

Martin Willoughby said...

You've made a very good point there about the actions we undertake when doing someting becoming 'addictive', part of the routine.

The reason I haven't bought a Kindle is I can't afford one, though I do have the kindle software on my compuiter and have read a couple of books that way.

Freya Morris said...

Totally agreed but who is to say this addiction is bad for us? There is also something visually/psychologically satisfying when you physically see progress. For me, it one of the same reason why I choose to run outdoors and not on a treadmill.

Also, I often feel overwhelmed with the knowledge that's out there on the internet (desperate to get at it, but overloaded by it). Opening up a Kindle with infinite books available with no tangible idea of how long it will take to read is daunting. I want a finite. I also want to feel and see my progress! I don't want to feel I'm on some Merry-go-round.

With my job and writing, my life is spent looking at a screen. Pulling away to a book helps me to disassociate it with work.

As you can see, there are just too many reasons why I will stick with a book for reading pleasure.

Victoria Snelling said...

Yes, the progress thing is missing with the Kindle. There's something about being able to see how far through a book you are. The Kindle has a progress bar at the button showing in percentage how far through the book I am. It's not quite the same. I do think I'll get used to it though.

Perhaps attachment is a better word than addiction. I was just noticing what I was thinking and feeling while using a Kindle. I'm sure in a couple of years I'll have developed habits related to that as well.