The Book and the Kindle: One Better than the Other?

Paper, printed and bound together. The book is (imho) one of the greater tried-and-true inventions of mankind’s history. It doesn’t get old.

But the Kindle is handy, too. And, in essence, it does exactly what a book does.

A book does so much more than pass along information. In a strict sense, a book immortalizes the author within its pages.

A book takes you out of your room and onto a pirate ship, dueling to the death to save a beloved.

A book allows a peek into the inner-workings of another time lost to our society.

A book will tell you how and why Socrates died in 399 BC so that in learning it will make you think and influence you to do in a way that events over two millenia ago would never impress upon you otherwise.

A Book tells us THE WORDS OF CHRIST HIMSELF. GOD’S WORDS. Think about that!

Books are beautiful things.

Books make a home feel cozy and lived-in.

Books piled on a bedside table don’t look out of place.

Sometimes the right book can make the best present for just about anyone.

Whether or not you can read text a picture book can incite imagination and understanding at any age, even for my 5 month old daughter.

Books are for any age in any state of life at any time of day anywhere in the world a person can be.

Books are for teaching children their basics about life and natural law, and for acquiring knowledge and passion for something in old age, and for every time in between.

I greatly love books and being around them. I love book stores and book shelves and the excitement that comes from starting one. I appreciate that fulfilling teensy tinge of sadness feeling when something uber-amazing is over.

We can have very deep connections with books. Some books we “own” ourselves, and we become very attached to their characters and worlds. I love that The Hobbit was written by Bilbo Baggins. When I read it, I read it as though I am in Rivendell and Bilbo is sharing the tale to me himself–I have since first reading it in grade school.

The Kindle (and equivalents) is an excellent tool, just as a book is a tool. It serves the same function.

A Kindle is much more efficient in that it can hold entire libraries of data plus the daily news.

A Kindle can sometimes make reading easier — say, on a train at night.

A Kindle can’t be ripped apart by a toddler.

A Kindle can save money because a data download costs far less.

A Kindle can get a book to you the moment it is released, so you don’t have to get in your car and drive to the store and pay $25 for something you’ve been anticipating for months.

In fact, the Kindle kind of defeats the purpose of brick and mortar book stores.

In some ways that is good. It’s progressing the evolution of technology.

But, in all honesty, when I watch Star Trek it makes me a sad to see books replaced with tablets as the norm.

Something doesn’t seem immortalizing about plastic and glass with data loaded onto it the way printed word on pages bounded together seems timeless. Or maybe I’m just old fashioned.

An iPod (iPhone) replaces my Breviary with a slick, easy-to-use handheld. It works well at home or out and about. For this reason, I downloaded the Kindle to my iPod.* Within 5 minutes I had three books and was lying in bed in the dark reading without disturbing anyone. It was nice. It was also easy to pick up where I left off this morning when I had a few minutes before everyone else woke up.

It seems the custom is to be a purist “anti-ebook” person or to be an “in-between” person who doesn’t have a problem with either but who prefers one or the other’s convenience when the situation suits itself. I haven’t yet met anyone who says “do away with paper books.” (Well, except a few people who believe buying books at Barnes & Noble will deplete all the rainforests in South America, but I haven’t actually met them, though I’m sure they exist.)

It is convenient to keep books on a small device. It’s convenient to read in the dark or in the car without disturbing anyone. It is simple to keep my iPod beside the bed rather than books.

But a Kindle doesn’t replace the musty smell of a room full of books or the sound of turning a page.

A Kindle doesn’t come close to the sentiment I have for a book I’ve read over and over again until the spine needs taped together and pages are falling out. The pages can’t fall out of a Kindle. Yes, that’s convenient. But in that I think a book has a soul in the way a Kindle does not.

Words printed on a page are an abstract–an idea that has no meaning unless you can read and interpret. The Kindle serves the same function. Let’s take To Kill a Mockingbird: the physical book to me is the story. When I see the book it is the same to me as the pages in it, just as when I see a person I love I see their body but know that person, that is, their soul.

A Kindle can only be what it is. That is why a Kindle is just a tool to me.

*Yes, there is Apple’s iBooks but the books I wanted weren’t available so I downloaded the Kindle. I found I like the Kindle interface better, anyway.


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