On e-book readers (Amazon Kindle)

Reading on a mobile phone

People who know me well would know that I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to digital media for personal consumption (I know, I am a digital marketer, right!). For a long time, I refused to use digital streaming services (I use them now, but still prefer my CDs for serious music listening). I still read physical newspapers (though spend more time on digital news sites). And for the very longest time, I refused to use a digital book reader, preferring the tactile pleasures of flipping through the pages of a physical book.

Until, that is, a few months back, when I succumbed and started using the Amazon Kindle App on my phone. From a slow start, I now find myself very comfortable using it, and I have started using it regularly. What do I like about it?

  1. Convenience – I like that, once I find a book, I can start reading it almost immediately. No having to search for the book at various book stores, or ordering it online and waiting for it to be delivered.
  2. Any-time consumption – Since it’s not another device and part of my phone (which I carry around almost everywhere), I can pick up from where I left off my reading anytime, anywhere.
  3. Ability to magnify – I am no longer very young, and I appreciate the fact that I can magnify the text and read in pleasure without having to strain my (weakening) eyes or use a magnifying glass.
  4. Minimalistic – I rarely read a book more than once. When I was living abroad, I was a regular member of public library systems where I could borrow books for reading. India does not really have such a system. And where libraries do exist, they typically would have very few books that would interest me. So reading e-books is a great boon for me these days, as I can avoid having to buy books (saving money, paper and lowering carbon footprint).

Having said that, I do miss the following:

  1. The sensory pleasures of reading a book – There still exists a great pleasure in opening a book and getting that unmistakable book smell as well as feeling the quality of the pages and flipping through them that e-book readers (still) cannot deliver.
  2. The joys of wandering through book shops – I used to love walking through book (and music) shops, looking at the titles, browsing a few, and then maybe picking one up to buy and read. I hardly do that any more, except at airports, and I miss the experience. In fact, I wonder if my kids would ever go to a book shop, forget a music shop!

So it looks like e-book readers are here to stay with me. I do wish, though, that they could come up with a much better system for ‘discovering’ or ‘browsing’ through titles. The current system of scrolling through pages and pages of downright useless titles in the hope of finding that one interesting book is getting quite painful. Does anyone have any suggestions on this?

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