Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How I learnt to love ebooks

Against everything I stand for, an incredible thing happened last week: I got a Kindle.

If you know anything about me one thing you'll know for sure is that I'm passionate about books - the way they look, the way they feel, and the way they smell; you can't beat the smell of a good book. Let's not beat around the bush - I'm basically a book pervert. I love them as objects; I love that every shelf in my house is heaving under the weight of gorgeous books.

But I also get the ebook thing. For a long time right up until I left my old company I was constantly banging on about digitising our old books and releasing them as ebooks. I released my own book as a digital version first, a good few months before the print one burst into life (while we're on the subject, here's some shameless whoring: whichever version shivers yer timbers YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BUY IT!). Anyway, I totally got that people wanted the convenience of having a small device that could hold loads of books rather than actually have loads of books. I just didn't necessarily want one myself.

I was basically the beardy dude who still buys vinyl while all the kids are downloading mp3s.

And it wasn't helped by the fact that early Kindles were pretty clunky looking things that looked like they'd fallen off the wall of a bad 1970s sci-fi film. They lacked the simple elegance of, say, my beloved iPad. I've dabbled in ebooks before, of course. I've read two on my iPad.

The danger here, though, is that I'm really easily distracted. With the iPad it's too easy for me to stop reading and start checking my email. And twitter. And Facebook. And, ooo, I'll just have a quick go on Angry Birds.

It took me weeks to read my first ebook, which is shocking because it was Winnie the Pooh and let's face it, that thing's hardly War and Peace in length.

So reading on my iPad was a BAD IDEA and Kindles were ugly. Hooray for real books!

But then all of a sudden kindles became quite nice looking things (dare I say a little bit sexy) and I kind of went 'ooo,' with a little high-pitched upturn at the end. The real turning point came when they announced the Kindle Paperwhite back in October - a touchscreen ereader with a lovely backlight so you can read it in the dark and I came to the realisation that I really quite liked the idea of being snuggled down in bed reading in the dark.

Another factor was that every now and then I like to read a really shitty Star Trek novel. I'm not a massive fan of Star Trek novels these days - I think they're pretty badly written stories by numbers - but who doesn't enjoy a crappy easy to read book once in a while? I reasoned that if I got a kindle I could hide my Trekkie shame away on a digital bookshelf rather than display it for all to see on my already straining real one.

And so I ordered a Kindle Paperwhite 3G.

It turned up last week and against all my ingrained expectations I love it, quite possibly a little too much. It's so refreshingly honest in the fact that it is only an ereader and does not try to be an all singing all dancing device like an iPad. It's light, a brilliant, compact size (I can hold it in one hand while holding a cup of tea in the other), and it's even got a bit of a grain on the screen to make it feel more like paper.

My first purchase was a shitty Star Trek novel, which is living up to expectations by being a bit shitty, but a remarkable thing is happening: the kindle genuinely seems to have reawakened my passion for reading. I'm pretty sure if I was reading the physical copy of the Trek book I would currently be stalled somewhere around page 50; with the Kindles I'm just excited about reading and am over halfway through at the time of writing. And I'm already thinking about what I want to read on it next.

Remarkably, I've also come to the realisation that it's not just shitty Star Trek novels I want to read on it, either. I can genuinely see myself buying a significant proportion of my books on it. Definitely not graphic novels or beautifully designed and packaged books that just demand to be bought as a physical item, but definitely most of the average paperbacks I would otherwise buy.

What's even more exciting is that a lot of old, out of print books are available on Kindle too. Yes, I can finally finish reading William Shatner's Tekwar series. You don't know how exciting I find that prospect.

Basically, I'm sold.

Now, we just need Glade to produce an old book smell plugin air freshener and the future will well and truly have arrived.

1 comment:

Tara said...

I'm so glad I know a fellow book pervert. I love the smell of books too. Books, magazines, catalogs, manuals... My friend and I will smell the catalogs that come in at work. She'll smell one and say, "Here, try this one. Fan the pages to bring out the aroma."

Congrats on your Kindle! I hope they do come out with an old book scent for eBooks.