To Kindle or Not to Kindle

To Kindle or not to Kindle . . . ? That is the question.

Whether we like it or not, technology is pushing us forward. There was a time when people invented things out of need. Fire. Burial. Clothing (unfortunately). Now it seems corporations cram new technologies down our throats every other week. Being a Luddite/naturist, I’ve resisted unnecessary changes to the way we live our lives, especially when it comes to the timeless tradition of reading. Since the dawn of papyrus, which was first hammered into shape by the ancient Egyptians in the 3rd millennium B.C., and later by the Phoenicians of Biblos (hence the Greek word biblos, which means bible or book), people have been transmitting information via ink. Sure, TV and Internet have come along, where one might choose to read the CNN app or my blog, but those things pose no threat to the written (literally) word. Now, as soon as you walk into any Barnes & Nobles, you are visually assaulted by their e-book kiosks (their brand is called the Nook). You might think B&N doesn’t want you reading paper anymore, as if they’re embarrassed by the countless tree corpses stacked in their stores. Of course, what company can resist the lure of selling something that costs $0 to mass produce? The potential savings on printing made possible by the electronic book has driven book sellers to push and push and push this new way of reading, despite near universal disdain for it. People like the “feel” of paper, the heft of pages left behind and pages left to go, the pride felt when you set down a weighty tome knowing you’ve mentally devoured the whole of it. You simply don’t get that feeling of accomplishment with an e-book. Until recently, e-books were also quite a strain on the eyes. Just look at this blog right now. Really look closely at the text. Feel the strain? Even as a writer, I have my concerns about e-books. Junk novels are popping up all over the place, which makes it harder for seriously tortured writers like myself to get noticed. After all, if it costs next to nothing to publish, everyone will start doing it. Without the vetting provided by agents, editors or publishers, quality work is bound to get lost amid the dreck and people on the fence about reading will likely pick up their X-Box controllers instead. Yes—e-books are a thing of the devil, a product of pure greed made by big corps. to cash in big. Plus, you know, tradition.

Then I came upon the Kindle Paperwhite, and virtually no more eye strain, since the Paperwhite produces an image near identical to real paper. You really have to read it to believe it. Also, if I have to be honest with myself and my naturist principles, I cannot continue to condone the murder of trees for the sake of publishing. E-books will certainly save a lot of forest. There are also pragmatic concerns even I can’t ignore. For instance, my shelf is quite literally full. I have no place left in my room to put books, unless I start stacking them on the floor or egads! start getting rid of my action figures. With the Kindle, I can store my entire collection in my hand, and if anything happens to the device, Amazon logs my every purchase for future (and free) downloading. Best of all is the dictionary feature. Most adults don’t bother learning new words (unless you’re a writer); picking up the Oxford English Dictionary each and every time you come across an obscure reference is just too time consuming, not to mention heavy. I am currently reading the second part of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, and I am quite befuddled by some of the more archaic terminology the author uses. Before the Kindle, I would have likely glossed over words like palfreywain or gorget—now I can press my finger to the page and viola! instant definition.

Does this mean we can do away with all our paper books? Not necessarily. A world without paper is a poorer world indeed. And I am a big proponent of touching. If I ever run for president, my platform will be, Vote for Alimonos, For a more touchy, feely society. Plus, should we ever come upon a global apocalypse, where all electricity is wiped out and we’ll be forced to live as naked primitives (secretly crossing fingers), it will be nice knowing our literary heritage and history is safely preserved on paper.

In summation, the e-book is not the end of society as we know it. Despite its birth from greed, it has its inadvertent plus side. Give it a chance and it just might surprise you. The world is changing, after all, and just like the Sumerians, who likely argued in favor of clay tablets, You can write cuneiform much faster with sticks than with a quill! we must learn to adapt to new ways of sharing our stories.

Here’s a few pros and cons to using an e-reader:

Pros:
– Stores all your books in one place
– Much lighter to hold than most books
– You don’t have to hold it open / you can hold it with one hand
– You don’t have to worry about ripping a page or spilling a little bit of water on it
– Read while eating by propping it up on a table
– Less weight for travel
– Feel better about the environment
– Instant dictionary option

Cons:
– Intangible pages
– Eye strain (a bit, even with the Paperwhite)
– Less sense of accomplishment
– Nothing to display on your bookshelf
– Covers look awful (will likely get better)
– Hard to share books with others
– No page numbers (really?)
– You don’t want to get a lot of water on it
– Battery life / need to recharge it
– May break completely
– Useless without electricity
– Not as good for killing roaches

        

12 thoughts on “To Kindle or Not to Kindle

  1. Thanks, Aris. And sorry about the delay in posting your comment. I have to moderate comments now because of the crazy people who come on my blog to argue about Mass Effect 3 (if you can believe it). It's been months and they won't leave me alone!

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  2. What do you mean by junk novel ? Can you give any example ?

    Why is the invention of clothes unfortunate in your opinion ? I know naturist prefer to be naked, but why would the possibility to wear clothe be unfortunate ?

    Why the disdain for video games ? yes there are bad ones among them, but some very good and deep ones aswell.

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  3. Where do you see 'disdain for video games'? I like video games. But please please please, do not make this post about video games! If you're going to comment, stick to the subject please. If you want to discuss video games, there are countless other sites you can visit to do just that.

    As for the clothing comment, there is a term called “tongue in cheek” humor. You must learn that not everything in writing is meant to be taken literally. Sometimes I make jokes, exaggerations or I like to just be silly. Yes, I am a nudist, and yes, I sometimes feel the invention of clothing to have been unfortunate. On the other hand, it probably saved a lot of lives during the last Ice Age . . . but the intent of this post is not nudism.

    I consider a junk novel anything that is written with the barest minimal effort. For instance, if you've written a novel, but never bothered to do any proofreading or editing, even once, it's a junk novel. If it's full of misspellings and typos and grammatical errors that could easily have been fixed, it's a junk novel. These kinds of books could never have been published before the e-book age, which is the point of this post. It makes it more difficult to tell the well written books from the poorly written ones. If you want titles, visit Amazon.com. Look at the e-books selling for $0.99, they're more likely to be junk novels than those selling for $9.99.

    Now before you try to bring up that stupid never ending argument about subjectivity again, grammar and spelling are objective. Something is either spelled correctly or it isn't, so don't bother going there because that discussion is closed.

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  4. “quality work is bound to get lost amid the dreck and people on the fence about reading will likely pick up their X-Box controllers instead”

    English ain't my first language, but this does sounds a bit like disdain for vide games to me.

    Ok, junk novel are novels with poor spelling and grammar.

    I don't see how it will mak it harder for non-junk to be noticed unless critics and ratings aren't allowed for ebooks. Someone is bound to make a website to separate both types.
    Also you mention yourself the price tag as indication.
    And there will still be paper books no ?

    Annoying that you removed the anonymous, hate to sign in various things but whatever.

    I don't see how our argument was stupid even if you disagreed. Too bad you didn't allow the last answer, even if you don'tanswer it, so he reader can decide for himself.

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  5. Yes, meaning that they will do something else besides read books. How does that translate to disdain for video games? If I had said, 'They will do something stupid, like play video games' then you would be correct.

    Study English further.

    There are literally millions of books in existence and very few of them (probably less than 10%) are given professional review or ratings. Even then, reviews are subjective (there's that word again!). Sorry, I don't understand your last two sentences.

    I had to. I was getting too much spam from anonymous readers.

    The argument was stupid because there was nothing to argue. Nobody should argue the definition of opinion and subjective. It would be like arguing whether gravity makes things fall up or down. No educated/sane person on planet Earth will agree with you that you can state as fact whether a book/movie/game is good or bad. This is simply a dearth of understanding on your part. I don't know if it has something to do with your not being a native English speaker, but you need to pick up the Oxford English Dictionary to get a better idea of the basic meaning of words.

    Maybe this will help. I will write some sentences and they will be marked as either O (Opinion) or F (Fact) or LF (Logical Fallacy)

    The Star Wars Prequels were bad movies = O

    The Star Wars Prequels were great movies = O

    The Star Wars Prequels made over a million dollars in revenue = F

    Many critics hated the Star Wars Prequels = F

    Those critics are all idiots = O

    Mass Effect 3 had a terrible ending = O

    Mass Effect 3 could have had a better ending = O

    Mass Effect 3's ending could have satisfied more people = F

    Mass Effect 3 ended = F

    Mass Effect 3 is highly rated on IGN.com = F

    The fact that IGN gave ME3 a good rating proves it was a good game = LF

    I liked the end to Mass Effect 3 = F

    Everyone should like the end to Mass Effect 3 because I do = LF

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  6. And I suppose this isn't meant to be condescending ?

    “Yes, meaning that they will do something else besides read books. How does that translate to disdain for video games? If I had said, 'They will do something stupid, like play video games' then you would be correct.”

    then why didn't you just say they will do something else? Especially when you said earlier you consider games to be inferior story-wise.
    Your sentence doesn't make much sense. Someone who can't get good e-books can still buy a decent book.

    You said most junk novels sell at 0.99 , while better ones sell at 9.99 $ or above. And actual physical books still exist. Your situation isn't worst now. You aren't harder to notice among physical books, even if e-books are full of cheap junk novel.

    Notethough, that some may subjectively not care that much about occasionnal typos and hence disagree with your “junk” novel classification. Especially when this is about the presentation, not the actual story.

    I posted more comment on your other entries denying you asertion about plot holes in the original Star wars trilogy (ie yoda can't throw the death star into a sun because the empire and the engines would counter it) and the lord of the ring (sauron would see the eagles coming that time, and his wyvern-like creatures would intercept them).

    Do you actuaally delete it because of spam or because you don't like it ?

    Nobody educated/sane will agree with methat there are objective qualities to writing ? Are you sur about that ? How about we ask some teachers or professionnals ? Remember that link with Asimov I gave you?
    http://youtu.be/xUz_KkibYAs?t=10m42s

    “To go into the land of fantasy without realising it is insulting to the intelligent writer…”

    You never actually proved writing quality was subjective.

    None of your sentences correspond to what I as arguing. Especially when you mix up tastes/preference and qualities.

    You don't care much about continuity : F (afaik)

    Some stories have better continuity than others. F

    Mass effect 3 (even outside of the ending) has retcons : F

    Hence Mass effect 3 has bad plot continuity, when it contradict earlier lore.

    Consumer who care about consistency won't like Mass effect 3.

    You claim to have studied writing for 30 years. How did you study something that's allegedly subjective ?

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  7. I'm not bashing anyone, despite the way some of your message seem to portrai me as some kind of Troll. It's fin with me if you like something despite its flaws, as long as you're aware of those. I like pieces of art that have objective flaws. But I recognize there are better pieces of art, even if they appeal less to me.

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  8. Think about it, if writing is entirely subjective, and there is no such thing as bad writing, then writing is meaningless itself.

    What's the point of working hard, studying, etc, if it does not result in overall objectively better work ?
    You know the saying, ” by winning without peril, you triumph without any glory” (roughly translated from the original language).
    See, I suppose by studying 30 years, you probably have picked up some skills or something to write better ? But this is again meaningless if it's all subjective. Anyone without any background can come in and write unoriginal stuff and this has the same value as the work of say, Asimov ?

    This is nothing but a recipe for stagnation of writing.

    Now if you don't want to talk at all, just say it. But have th honesty to publish my arguments.

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  9. You make many assumptions all of which are wrong. You still do not seem to understand what subjective means and I am quite tired of explaining it. You are under the erroneous impression that subjectivity makes judgments meaningless. This is not the case. What I am saying to you is that you cannot PROVE an opinion. This isn't me saying this; this is common, global knowledge. Yes, Asimov is considered a better writer by MOST people, and naturally I would prefer it if MOST people think I am a good writer also, because there is no point in striving to improve if nobody will ever read my work. That does mean, however, that my writing can ever become objectively good. The two concepts are entirely separate. Facts can never become opinions, nor opinions facts. Argue all you want, you can't change reality. I don't know how else to explain this so let's drop the subject. I am bored of this discussion.

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  10. You recognize there are better pieces of art FOR YOU. I have visited most of the great museums of the world, including those in Rome and in Paris. Guess what? Nobody was judging any single piece of art as superior to any other. Only the Mona Lisa seemed to gather a crowd due to its popularity, though I personally could not see what the big deal is. I find Michaelangelo's Pieta and Praxitiles' Hermes superior works, but that's just my opinion.

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  11. Because “something else” is boring. And just because I think books are BETTER story wise does not mean I dislike video games. I've made it clear numerous times that I do like video games.

    Yes, people can still buy decent physical books, but for those of us who go the self-publishing route, physical books are too expensive to produce. Also, more publishers are turning to e-books to save money on printing, a fact clearly stated in my post, but you don't seem to be reading my posts in their entirety.
    Some e-books can be junk, many can be brilliant. The problem is the sheer volume of e-books, which makes good e-books harder to find.

    Some people may, in fact, not care about typos, but the purpose of this post is not to analyze story quality; it is to point out that junk novels, with typos, are more common in an e-book. Whether you mind the typos or not is irrelevant. Fact is, the vast majority of people, including myself, prefer books without typos, and therefore e-books, having a greater propensity for typos, have a greater propensity for being deemed of poorer quality.

    I delete complete nonsense. You can make up your own in- story explanations for anything you want, just as I can make up my own explanations for any inconsistency you find in Mass Effect; it doesn't mean you are correct. “Size matters not” is pretty clear to me—if Yoda can overcome the force of gravity, why the hell do engines matter? An engine is something that produces an opposing force, just like gravity does, but is typically far weaker than a black hole, which is all gravity.

    I do care about continuity, but it does not prove a story without it is a poor story.

    It is not allegedly subjective, it *IS* subjective. Jesus Christ get a dictionary already!

    Instead of trying to learn something here, you continue to persist in your ignorance. There is nothing worse than being unwilling to learn and for that I pity you. I quite honestly do not have the time or patience to argue further—it's like arguing with a 5 year old and I put myself low every time I do it. I am sure you can find plenty of other blogs, made by kids your age, with whom you can argue and hopefully someday, if you go to college, you can take a course in logic or philosophy, or at the very least a writing course, so you can learn something about what you think you know. Until you grow up, I will no longer be permitting your comments, sorry.

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