Why I Sold Out and Got a Kindle
Those of you who know me will know that I absolutely adore books. Right now I have hundreds huddled against each other on my shelves and curled up on my floor for lack of space. If I'm engrossed in a book or a magazine, you're probably not going to get a peep out of me till I'm done - if I even acknowledge your existence. (I'm really rude to people when I'm reading, because I blank out everything that isn't a rectangle with writing on it. Sorry!) I love their shape, their feel, their smell, their covers. And when ebook readers first took off a couple of years ago, I wasn't too impressed with them. Why do I need a grey rectangle that hurts my eyes, won't even let me own the books I read, doesn't really let me highlight stuff and is basically just a useless, overpriced brick if the battery goes flat? (This is one advantage of real books: they don't have batteries, so they can survive for thousands of years, at least in part, if correctly preserved.) Hell, I even unofficially pledged to read the printed word.
And now, a couple of years later, I'm going back on my pledge like the turncoat I am. As you can see, integrity is one of my best qualities.
But every turncoat has their reasons for leaving the side of the good and the true, and mine aren't simply for the pleasure of doing it. Evil for its own sake is pretty exhausting, you know.
Firstly, ebook technology is actually fairly decent now; e-ink means that I don't get assaulted by bright light every time I try to read in the dark while still being able to actually, you know, see my page owing to a lovely low backlight on my Kindle. I left mine on for six weeks once and its battery was still 50% full before I recharged it. I finally worked out how to put highlights in my ebooks. And mine has roughly enough space for 1,000 books - about the size of my collection.
Secondly, I don't really buy ebooks unless they're freebies; I already have a book-shaped brick to store them on, so why pay more for the license to read a digital copy? Instead, I use the wonderful Project Gutenberg to download public-domain texts that I already have, or desperately want to read. For anything else, this is the internet. You can probably figure out what I'm talking about. If you haven't, spend more time online.
But neither of these things really explain why I would set aside my long-standing revulsion for ebook readers. If I don't have to shift my thousand-book collection, I've got no reason to get one over just buying more books.
And here is the crucial thing: I'm going to university in a couple of months' time, or at least I hope to should I actually pass my exams. I will need to take several things with me there - more than I can fit even in my biggest suitcase. And I know that because I love books so much, I'll probably end up trying to cram my entire collection into the car and leave absolutely no space for anything else. This is where an electronic brick becomes quite important and reasonable: it can store my entire collection and leave me room to pack more vaguely sensible things, such as clothes and cutlery.
No, it'll never be as good as holding a real book in my hands. But until I can shift every last book that I own, it will suffice.