When I first saw the direction that reading was heading, I hated it. A machine that acts as a library for you? Something you read off of without being able to see and feel a tangible book; why, that’s the experience!
Reading is a engagement of all senses: you take in others’ stories through sight, imagine the scenery and the actions through your mind’s eye; you feel the weight of their impact with your hands, pick apart an author’s brain by flipping through their creation; you smell the book’s use—had it been well used in its lifetime or is it a brand new edition?—and perhaps, if you think hard enough, you smell the dew off the grassy field in the countryside setting; you hear each flip of the page, sure that if you listen hard enough, you’ll hear the book whispering to you; and, as you turn the final page, on your lips, you taste success and completion—if reading a difficult novel—and the emotional remnants that stains your teeth—if reading a book for pleasure.
How could they dare change this experience?
And then, my materialism got the better of me.
I purchased a Kindle…
… and entered a whole new world of reading.
For those curious, I bought a Kindle Touch (with promotions) after days of contemplation. My reason for Kindle over any other e-reader: I knew that Amazon would have excellent support—which I ended up needing after my first one malfunctioned after two days—and that the classics were free. My reasons for choosing a Kindle Touch above a Kindle or a Kindle Keyboard? Having gone through a Nook before (which was not as life-changing as my current e-reader), I realized that having to navigate to a certain sentence or word in order to highlight a passage was very annoying. With the touch, I could just use my finger to jump to a certain part in order to highlight or look up a definition.
It was in one of my many English classes that I realized the importance a Kindle can be to an English student. Like a physical book, you can turn to a certain page by keying in the page number—after looking up which edition it was based off of first—and it will bring you to that page. However, it takes the experience even further in two ways: the X-Ray capability (only available in certain editions) and the My Clippings.
With the X-Ray capability, the Kindle gives you an outline of the book based on certain characters, events, or places of the novel. It gives you how often a certain character or place is mentioned. You can search passages by character (useful when you’re analyzing a character’s motivation) as well.
- My Clippings: Your highlighted and noted passages do not go to waste with this option. Although you can always search the entire novel for a specific phrase or character, you can browse the highlighted or noted passages with this—as long as you remembered to do so while reading.
Thanks to Amazon’s continuous improvements, another feature of the Kindle includes the ability to share your notes by making a certain book’s notes and highlights public. Other readers can then follow your public notes to be able to view what you do while reading.
I’m currently reading Moby Dick with an English major friend of mine who also owns a Kindle and, after discovering this feature, we are now going to use it frequently! It would help facilitate discussion (for us English nerds) as well as see how the other is reacting to certain events of the book. I’m hoping that Amazon will continue to improve so that users can share with specific people rather than having it up on a public forum—but if you’re not famous, who would really care to follow you?
Therefore, the Kindle has not only made reading more friendly—before this, reading was becoming something quite outdated—and now, by creating a desire to own yet another piece of technology and by opening up access to all types of books, Amazon has renewed it.
The only thing I have against the reading revolution is that libraries and bookstores who cannot keep up start closing down. For example, Borders has met its decline by not providing a successful e-reader like Barnes & Noble has done. Even so, I’m concerned for Barnes & Noble’s ability to compete with Amazon’s prices and renown. I’m predicting that in the future, existing bookstores will only be Mom-and-Pop type bookstores as well as antique bookstores.
My library has managed to keep up so far, to my pride. They now feature the ability to lend e-readers (for what reason, I know not) and have kept up a healthy collection of e-books for members to download onto their devices. Well done. I suspect, however, it’s because I live in quite a well-off city that the public library has been able to do so. I’ve heard of many of my friends’ libraries in other cities that have been closing down, sadly.
Though the Kindle has taught me many things about reading, it has also reminded me to be open—something that I thought I had already perfected by being born and embracing new forms of technology every day. Although there was no need for me to “keep up” in the way that the older generations do because I’ve been growing up with technology, there was a need for me to overcome mental stigmas. Just because I like the old way (not necessarily old because I still enjoy the feel of the physical book) of reading, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try out the old way. In some ways, trying something new reveals that there are actually ways to heighten experiences in ways you never imagined.