I have been reading books on a Kindle Fire for a couple of years now, but because the Kindle Fire is more of a tablet than an e-reader, it is difficult to compare it with a real book. But, recently I purchased a Kindle Paperwhite, and the reading experience on it is much better than on the Kindle Fire, though I am not sure whether it is better, or worse, than reading a paperback.
Thickness and Feel of a Paperback
I don’t know about you but the thickness of a book has always had a special significance for me. During my school days, when most books I read were borrowed from the school library, I used to decide which book to borrow based on its thickness. If you think that is a weird way to choose books, let me tell you that we were allowed to borrow only one book a week, so I used to pick a thick book to make it last as long as possible. And yes, if you were wondering, I also used to borrow books in the name of those of my friends who weren’t book lovers.
With time that has changed. Now I try to choose books that are not too thick, so that I can finish more of them. Growing up, the amount of time available for reading has reduced dramatically and I want to make the best use of it , and read as many books and authors as I can.
Another thing about reading a paperback is that as the pages are read and turned, the pages on the read side begin to become thicker than the unread pages, and the reader can get a sense of position of where he, or she, is in the book. This may be a personal thing, but I really enjoy as the pages on the read side, slowly and steadily, become thicker, until the final page is turned and the book is finished.
On a kindle you miss all the above things. You miss the feel of a real book in your hands. Initially that is really uncomfortable, but slowly you get used to it. One of the major downsides in this regard, according to me, is that you never know how far into the book you are. Although there are some numbers on the bottom left corner that tell you how much into the book you are, in terms of location, page number, or percentage, it’s just not the same thing.
Holding a Paperback Vs Holding a Kindle
All book lovers will agree that the e-reader can never replace the feel of a real book. But, it’s not just that. In the few weeks that I have been using the Kindle, I have not been comfortable with holding it. It seems like an effort to hold it. This may again be a personal thing, and maybe, as I use the Kindle more, it starts to feel better. But till then, I would say that holding a book in my hand feels much better than holding a Kindle.
There is, however, an advantage of holding a Kindle. You can read on a Kindle even when you have only one free hand, as you don’t need the second hand to turn the page. You can also keep the Kindle on any surface, like a table, and read, which is not be possible with a actual book, as you would need to hold it in your hand to keep the book from closing.
Meanings of Words
Now, this is one aspect where the Kindle is definitely better than a paperback. If there is any word that we don’t know the meaning of, and I am sure all of us encounter such words on our reading journeys, we can simply hold our finger over the word and the Kindle will give us its meaning. With a paperback, we have to make the effort to check a dictionary, and if you are anything like me, you would rather ascribe a meaning to the word based on context, rather than take a break from reading and consult a dictionary.
Carrying them around
Here, again, the Kindle has a distinct advantage. The Kindle Paper white I have weighs around 200 gms and is capable of holding thousands of books. For the truly mobile reader, this is a great gift. This is an advantage to those of us too who start reading two or more books at the same time. While it is difficult to carry all the books we are reading with us all the time, we can easily do that with an e-reader.
Buying a Kindle has an initial cost, which depends upon the model of Kindle you purchase, but, I feel, over a period of time the cost can be recovered. Firstly, there are some great classics that are available for free on Kindle, and some books by new authors are also available for free. Secondly, e-books, in general are cheaper than paperbacks, though, I have observed, that the difference in cost is not a lot now. Still, in the long run, you may be able to recover the cost of your Kindle if you read enough books on it.
Based on the above differences, I feel that though e-books may never completely replace the paperback, no avid reader can afford to ignore them. What do you think?