The Kindle dilemma

My friends and I had a discussion over Facebook earlier today. One of them just got a Kindle and found herself missing the feel of a holding an actual book while reading. And so we, along with another bookworm friend got into a discussion.

I love to read and, obviously, I love books. But not just the material in itself, but the actual physical thing. I love the weight of a book in my hands (not so much when I’m lugging it through an airport), the thrill you get when your bookmark’s nearer to the back of the book than the to front, the feel of really, really good book paper on your fingers. And the smell. Oh, the smell of new books. I’m a little ashamed to admit that one of my favorite things to do with a book is to riffle through the pages with the book right in front of my nose and just breathe in that lovely paper smell. And I’d like to think I’m not the only one who does that (or am I? Did I just make a slightly creepy admission?).

There’s also something about shelves and shelves of books that makes me feel at home. I don’t know what it is, maybe it was the hours I spent in our school library sitting on the cold linoleum tiles, taking my sweet, sweet time in choosing which Sweet Valley books to borrow, but I immediately feel a sense of calm and comfort when I walk into a bookstore. I get the same feeling when I look at my very modest collection of books, one I am slowly but surely adding to, in the hopes that someday I could call it even a mini library.

But my conscience is nagging me. Books mean paper. And paper means trees. If you think about the carbon footprint of getting that book into your hands (printing, binding, shipping, packing, etc.) then you’re really left with one option: the Kindle (although technically, there’s the Nook, too). Not only is it the infinitely greener alternative, it’s also the more convenient. No need to risk shoulder pain from carrying a hardbound book in your handbag, no need to put up shelves in your bedroom, no more hassle when moving homes.  All you need is that tiny, thin gadget and you’re set for half a lifetime of reading.

This just won't feel the same

All good sense and logic tells me that I should get the Kindle already. It’s probably just a matter of time anyway, before printed books become a thing of the past. But stubborn as I am, I don’t want to accept that. Because that means that my dream of a library, full of books that feel heavy in my hands, smooth under my fingers, is an even more distant reality than it already is.  It’s not like I can fill my shelves with hundreds of Kindles. I don’t think that would look this good.

Kindle photo from

8 thoughts on “The Kindle dilemma

  1. Buy an iPad. Hahaha. But seriously. Get one. I like e-books. I get to DL all the books I want to read without having to wait. And they’re cheap. And you can still buy all the books that you like. I just like the mobility of electronic stuff.

  2. get a kindle! one of my best purchases ever. just got back from vacation with friends, and one of them brought 3 books. like heavy books. then she saw my kindle 🙂

  3. I feel for you. I had the same dilemma not too long ago. I was deciding whether to buy a Kindle, a tablet (iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab) or sticking to actual, lovable books. Plus, yes, there was the question of paper and killing trees, etc, etc.

    I live in HK and you have pay through your nose to get a decent sized flat. Back home, I regularly raided Booksale and National. Here, I have to really exercise self control because if I kept buying books, one day, it will cause my death (trapped underneath a very heavy bookshelf) and possibly bankruptcy. 😛

    Buying a tablet didn’t really appeal to me and neither did the Kindle. I was just as unwilling to let go of the happiness of buying, having and reading an actual book. The tactile sensation and all the other “creepy” things you mentioned about books also applies to me. 🙂

    In the end, I made a compromise na lang – I bought myself a Samsung Galaxy WiFi 5.0″ player and downloaded the Kindle application to that and on my laptop. That’s how I read my books. Once in a while, if I really really really like a book, I buy it but I don’t buy books monthly like I used to do. Nakaka-miss talaga. 😦

    Sorry for such a long comment. This really hit close to home.

  4. Jenny: Haha! The iPad is too heavy, not to mention expensive.

    Burrito: The thing is I really don’t mind traveling with a book in my bag, even a heavy one.

    SungEmpress: Yey! Glad to know that I am not the only one with “creepy” book habits. Hehe… I guess your compromise sounds like a good way to go. Come to think of it, I have books that I bought that I don’t really love, that I don’t think I’ll read repeatedly. Those would’ve been better read as e-books. If I only buy books that I really, really love and will reread over and over, then at least the paper and the trees won’t really be a “waste”… And no apologies needed for the long comment. I really appreciate that you even took the time to write all that down. Thanks! 🙂

  5. I used to like buying books in Manila because I could share them with other folks in the house. But now I buy all books on my Kindle (except cookbooks) even if they’re more the same price or slightly more expensive than the print versions because:

    – the size is perfect for my daily commute
    – when I travel, it’s easier to carry one Kindle than 3-4 books (or 6-8 books for longer trips)
    – I get books instantly
    – I move every couple of years or so for work, less books just means less stuff to move around the world

    Personally, I think reading on the iPad is for lightweight readers only. It’s too heavy to use like a regular book (you can’t lie in bed and hold it up like a regular book or Kindle), and the backlit screen doesn’t lend itself to long stretches of reading.

    • Wow, some e-books can be more expensive than the print version? I was always under the impression that they would be cheaper or, at the most, the same price as the printed versions.

      Good point about the iPad, since I get tired from even just playing on it for about 15 minutes. It doesn’t seem like a realistic option for reading in long stretches.

      Thanks for your comment! It was really helpful. 🙂

  6. Pingback: The Kindle Dilemma, part 2 « Don't ask me to smile…

  7. Pingback: Finally: my Kindle « Don't ask me to smile…

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