Amazon.com’s Kindle has revolutionized the way people read. Oh sure, there’s the Sony e-reader, or the Barnes and Noble Nook, and even the iPad’s app for that, but none have come close to the sales and marketing power behind Amazon and the Kindle.
But I’m not here to do a marketing spiel – I actually, as you know, care about the act of reading.
Kindles and e-readers in general have a lot of possibilities. There are search functions; one can attach a dictionary to look up words as he reads; the text goes bigger and smaller; the physical reader is lightweight and easy to carry, and books can be downloaded in a nanosecond!
But, I’m not concerned with the physical aspects of reading either; I want to talk about the ways in which humans make meaning out of what they read.
There’s surprisingly little research on it, from what I’ve found. I’ve read a number of things on my kindle. I’ve read a great book on motherhood, called Bad Mommy by Ayelet Wadlman and laughed out loud on the airplane. I read the New Yorker Magazine on it since the Kindle subscription, at $4 per month, is significantly less than the physical subscription – and wastes less paper to boot. I read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Tinkers on it and I read the classic D.H. Lawrence book Sons and Lovers. (Many classics have completed their copyrights and are free on Kindle now…) But I can’t get past one fundamental, problem. The screen somehow impedes my ability to make the movie in my mind.
I am assuming here that the screen is the problem. It could be the device itself and having to press “next” to turn the page instead of just turning it. It could be the fact that I can’t go back to re-read something as easily or that I don’t have a proper book cover, or I have no pages numbers – just a silly percentage representing how much of the book I’ve finished so far.
I feel like my brain has trouble converting the words onto the screen into feelings in my heart. Writing is less evocative for me. Words don’t have their full impact.
One successful novelist I know buys a physical book if she loves a story on her Kindle. She then dives into the book to further her pleasure of the ideas contained therein. I might have to agree.
I’m just spouting ideas out here, and would love the opinions of others. I also need to do some hard research before I make my final word. For now, the convenience of a Kindle – not having to buy and carry actual books – outweighs the drawbacks. I may have to work harder to “see” the characters and feel what they feel, but I can do that in the name of ease.
Please let me know what you think.