Thursday, February 12, 2015


I know some of my friends do own and use kindles.   I have problems holding heavy books and have often wondered if I should buy a kindle.  However, in the magazine of a recent Weekend Australian newspaper there was this article which gave me much food for thought:

"The day my screen lost its gleam by Natasha Robinson

It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment I fell out of love.  Something just died and I cannot quite say when or why.  all I know is I haven't touched my Kindle in weeks.  Like a spouse keeping up appearances when a marriage has long crumbled, I keep buying books that sit in my electronic library, unread.  Or I stop halfway through a novel that I desperately want to finish, because I cannot face pushing that sliding button, or seeing that black and white image of Emily Dickinson flicker into view when the screen saver activates one more godforsaken time.  The e-book is dead to me.

I have reverted to a world of nostalgia and fantasy.  My daydreams take me to Ski Lanka's tea country, to Nuwara Eliya where about 15 years ago I rad the bulk of Anna Karenina in betwen games of chess.  It was the fattest book I had ever read.  I held it in my hands and i felt I'd climbed a literary mountain.

I cannot remember achieving that kind of immersion in an e-book  Certainly, right now when I look at my Kindle it leaves me feeling cold.  I crave absorption in something that doesn't have a screen or emit light.

Apparently I'm not alone in this.  While Christmas shopping, my local independent bookshop was bustling.  And the evidence of our ongoing love affair with the physical book is not just anecdotal.  The organisation that handles group buying and marketing for independent bookshops of Australia, Leading Edge Books, says sales data indicates the digital share of the book market has peaked and stabilised as readers who have sampled the e-reader begin to migrate back to the physical book.

Five years ago, my former colleague Corrie Perkin departed journalism after a distinguished 30-year career to open a bookshop, right at the peak of the market upheavals that saw publishing giants such as Collins go into administration.  "Everybody said we were crazy, " Corrie says.  "But I had an innate belief that as our daily lives became more and more linked to the iPad and the iPhone, that in our leisure time we may want to spend less time on those devices.  For a meaningful engagement with a book  ...  a tactile, tangible, physical item is the thing that people keep coming back to."  The gamble paid off.  Corrie's bookstore, My Bookshop, is about to open its second premises in Melbourne.

There is another aspect too.  As we speak, Corrie is looking at  her own bookshelves, where she has a collection of books left behind by her father, the acclaimed newspaper editor Graham Perkin, who died when Corrie was 14 years old.  "He was a big reader, she says.  "I have stacks of his books; they connect him to me."

My mother, too, kept some of our childhood books.  John Brown and the Midnight Cat was a favourite of me and my sister.  Now I read that story to my children.  The pages are tattered, more than a few held together with sticky tape  But it's a physical marker of a tradition, of a head resting in the nook of a mother's arm after bath time, a time of absorption that is all too rare in the electronic world.  Long may it live."

Those of you who regularly read e-books may not agree with this article and I would love to read your comments about it.   Even though my hands hurt when holding a book, I still don't know that I would get the same feeling of connection to the story from an e-book.  It certainly made me have second thoughts anyway.


  1. Oh there is nothing so soothing so comforting of holding a book in my hands. The smell of the paper the feel of the cover and the sound of the pages turning. Oh yes I am a great lover of books and do not own an ereader. I try to visit little bookshops where ever I go gathering for my lair of books to savour and devour later. Great post Mimsie. Hug B

  2. It's lovely to hold a real book, but, like you my hands are not happy after a while. It took me some time to get used to the Kindle. It went funny on me once and I thought I'd lost it but eventually the issue resolved itself. I have well over a thousand books on it now and I use it every day. I just have the basic bells and whistles. Do you have a friend who would loan you one for a few days so you can get a feel for it?

  3. Hari OM
    My father, who has Parkinson's, loves his Nook (same, but not tied to the Big Warrior), and you can get a cover which forms a stand so you don't even have to hold the machine itself.

    My brother is hardly ever seen without his Nook - an avid read doesn't even beGIN to describe him - so the cost effectiveness for purchasing books for him is also a big factor - then there is the storage; if he had to store all that he has as paper format he'd need to buy a house with twice as many rooms!

    I never got round to it despite being a keen 'bookie'. I do still have two full bookshelves, but they are mainly medical/spiritual/philosophical sort of texts. I 'let go' of majority of my fiction library when shifting back to UK from OZ. Then I downloaded the Kindle for PC application from Big Warrior and have been enjoying reading from my 'tablet' which is pretty much the same, albeit slightly bigger and thus more booklike in weight, as an e-reader. I don't mind it -but just do not read enough these days for it to make much difference either way....

    None of that helps you! I think Delores' suggestion is a good one - I do know that Edinburgh Library offered rent of e-readers for a while, to encourage folk to use library more... yes you can hire library items on e-readers!!!

    The other thing that occurs, for low-tech, is to get a book stand so that you don't have to hold your books and magazines. They are to be found among kitchenalia usually - cookbooks are their aim but no reason you can't adapt! YAM xx

  4. I'll never go back to paper. I love my tablet.

  5. I still like my kindle, it's much lighter than a real book and I have carpal tunnel syndrome so can't hold a book up for long, everything I read is laid flat on the table. The kindle is better when on the bus and it has the added advantage of holding many, many books, so if I finish one and I'm still travelling, I can easily start another. and I can enlarge the font size if the print is too small.
    Having said all that, I do still love real books and have several stacked on the table right now waiting their turn to be read. When I'm at home, I'll finish a kindle book, then switch to a real book.
    I've also discovered that if I've enjoyed a series of books on my kindle, I then want to own them as real books, so I buy them.
    Eventually my kindle will die, electronic devices always do, hopefully not before I've read all the books on it, and then I'll still have the real books to re-read that I enjoyed as e-books.