Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kindle vs Book: A Controversy

I just finished reading an article in the online LA times entitled:  Kindle vs Books:  The Dead Trees Society

Some of the comments were unbelievable.
Here's the article.

Several weeks into December last year, my parents suggested I might like a Kindle for Christmas.

I was sitting in my room at school, and my eyes darted to the bookshelf on my left. From the silence on the line they could tell I wasn't enthusiastic; I muttered something about not needing another gadget, mostly because I couldn't find a way to shape my reluctance into words. The conversation was tactfully forgotten, and Christmas morning, as my grandmother happily unwrapped a Kindle, I found a Jonathan Franzen novel and a new pair of Ugg boots under the tree.

I've never used a Kindle. I've seen them in an over-the-shoulder sort of way — the sleek tablet design, the portraits of Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf that materialize on the screen like the work of a divinely inspired Etch A Sketch. Part of the reason I'm wary of picking one up is that I don't want to experience the inevitable lure, the wavering that might begin as I imagine myself pulling a Kindle out of my significantly lighter bag on the airplane, or in a coffee shop. Like the dieter who drives the long route home to avoid passing the Dairy Queen, I just don't want to be tempted.

And then there is my childhood habit of making books into companions. It isn't just about reading "A Wrinkle in Time" — it's about my copy of the novel, with its cover appropriately wrinkled from hours of bathtub steam. I delight in the number of cracks on a spine, the sheer volume of pages represented by the books on my shelves.

"It's like this," I explained to a friend one day after he told me the story of a beloved copy of T.C. Boyle lost by a careless borrower. "Video-chatting is nice enough — I hear your voice, see your face on the screen. But the screen isn't you. There's a reason our friendship isn't conducted through a laptop."

Books as I grew up with them — books with jackets and covers and paper and spines — have stories that reach beyond what's written inside, and those stories are mine. There's the paperback copy of "Fahrenheit 451," signed by Ray Bradbury when he came to my hometown bookstore (and which I consequently never returned to the library). There's the green advance galley of "The United States of Arugula," given to me in the first week of a magazine internship by a friendly boss and read entirely on the subway so fellow riders could observe my insider status (never mind that it had been in stores for five years). Then there's the bright blue, barely opened guide to Edinburgh, a gift from my father that sits on my shelf and stabs me with guilt for my last-minute decision not to study abroad.

These books have lives that have changed mine. If it weren't for the signature in that stolen copy of "Fahrenheit 451," I wouldn't have felt a personal responsibility for books and their authors, a conviction that led me to New York to study at the only university with a great books curriculum. If it weren't for the gift of that galley of "The United States of Arugula," I wouldn't have developed the friendship with my boss, a food editor, and that was what made me realize that exploring the place of food in our lives was what I really wanted to do. And if it weren't for the reproach represented by that "Directions" guide to Edinburgh, I probably wouldn't have abandoned the promise of a publishing job in the city after graduation to take my new passion for food to a farm in California and start the adventure I never had in Scotland.

In eliminating a book's physical existence, something crucial is lost forever. Trapped in a Kindle, the story remains but the book can no longer be scribbled in, hoarded, burned, given or received. We may be able to read it, but we can't share it with others in the same way, and its ability to connect us to people, places and ideas is that much less powerful.

I know the Kindle will eventually carry the day — an electronic reader means no more embarrassing coffee stains, no more library holds and renewals, no more frantic flipping through pages for a lost quote or going to three bookstores in one afternoon to track down an evasive title. Who am I to advocate the doom of millions of trees when the swipe of a finger can deliver all 838 pages of Middlemarch into my waiting hands?

But once we all power up our Kindles something will be gone, a kind of language. Books communicate with us as readers — but as important, we communicate with each other through books themselves. When that connection is lost, the experience of reading — and our lives — will be forever altered.

Sara Barbour, a recent Columbia University graduate, is an apprentice farmer in Santa Cruz. She blogs at

Jordan173 at 6:54 AM June 19, 2011
"Kindle books can't be shared"? Ummm... hello. I guess you haven't noticed the "Download 3000 e-books formated for kindle or ipad" torrents that make it easy and quick, not to mention free to share ebooks (yes I know it's illegal, I'm just pointing out some facts here).
Also, If you're clever, you can deregister you kindle, then register it to your friends' or account and then sync all their legitimately purchased books to your device. You then reregister it to your own account and POW! You get to keep all their SHARED books on your device! 
Good luck lugging around all your heavy old books and killing trees just so you can bend up some paper.

In intended to post a response to this comment, but in order to do that, I had to register and sign in, which meant at least one thousand more spams would show up on my e-mail doorstep.  Or, I could sign in through facebook, IF, I agreed to allow the application to e-mail me (including all of their affiliates)  access my facebook, post things on my facebook wall that I don't know about and I don't know what else.  Forget it.  You shouldn't have to pay with your privacy simply to comment or respond to articles online.  So I have included the article (with copywrite info) and two interesting comments from the site.

Here is my response to the above comment:

Just a cotton picking minute.
Making a book is killing trees?  What about the plastic in your kindle?  How how much oil did we siphon out of the ground to make hundreds of thousands of those?  How much radiation is it emitting?  Some day you'll find out that it causes cancer from whatever strange electronics are within it.  But it'll be too late for you.  You'll be dead already.  But your Kindle will LIVE ON!  As all plastic does.  Killing out sea-life and wild-life,  How many aeons will it take for that to biodegrade? Because you know people will simply throw the malfunctioning one into the garbage.  It won't be recycled.  Don't vilify a natural resource and commend another which has far more damaging consequences.  At least you can recycle paper or burn a book.  Plastic and electronics will be the death of the planet.  Argue what you will about the use of a kindle or how you prefer it to a book, but do not include the Tree Killer point because you lose hands down in the Preserve the Planet war between paper and plastic.

And no, it's not the same to transfer an electronic file to someone as it is to hand them a real book that you love and enjoyed so that they can enjoy it.
I'm with the author of the article.  No.  I don't want a kindle and never will.  A book feels better in my hand.  It smells good.  It looks nice on my shelf.  I can take a book anywhere
Books Rock and they don't harm the environment. I can plant a new tree!

This other commenter has a point in favor of Kindle.  Apparently, where she is, real books are difficult to come by.  So it's helped her tremendously.  

Sheridan at 8:05 AM June 18, 2011 I agree with all these feelings about the paper books, both hardbound and paperback.  No one has yet spoken about one of the Kindle's great advantages....downloading a book in 60 seconds.  This is probably because they have ready access to the paper.  I have lived in Argentina for 3 years now.  It took about a year to work through the books I brought with me and I began to seek out new sources.  It turns out the economic choice for me was to order a selection of books - up to 30 at a time, have them boxed and sent to me.  That would take about 2 1/2 months.  I did that for the last year and a half and then bought a Kindle.  You have no idea the joy that comes with instant trips to Buenos long waiting periods. I am a tax attorney who has prepared tax returns by hand for many years and then by computer.  Believe me, I don't miss the time and energy required to complete a return by hand as compared to the capacity to run a change in a return in less than a second.
The Kindle may not be perfect, but I can keep notes and can download to my Mac as well.  The experience has to get better and we will learn to compensate to keep the traits of books we appreciate. We live in the information age...we can search through books in an instant, we can buy them in 60 seconds.  Adapt yourself to the present.

My response?

Aside from the last few lines, which are a bit condescending, I understand her viewpoint.  If I could not access a paper book, I would be thrilled to have a kindle.    She's including typing, however as opposed to writing by hand, which is irrelevant.  Sara Barbour isn't talking about handwritten books in her article.  Save that debate for a different topic.

I'm curious what my readers think of this subject.  Please post a comment with your thoughts or questions.  You can also visit my website: for more information about me and links to my other blogs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shadow Prey

Another whammy from John Sanford. I'm off and running on his Davenport series.  It's a wild ride for anyone who likes thrillers.  I've just finished Shadow Prey, which was every bit as tantalizing as the previous books.  This one was full of gruesome details I'll never get out of my mind.  And yet, somehow, I want another one!  

I'm into Eyes of Prey and can't read it fast enough.  

Once I pick up a good book, I check to see if it's a series.  If it is, I go back to the first one and read them in order.  I'm delighted with Sanford!  Having finished off all Michael Connelly and all John Connelly, I was desperate for a new story.

I'm a murder mystery and thriller enthusiast, but that is not all I read.  I'm also a kid who is never growing up.  I've read the entire Fablehaven Series by Brandon Muhr.  Excellent!  Also, Harry Potter, Twilight and the Lightening Thief.  I highly recommend those if you have teens.

I'm in search of my next series.  
I hope you like these reviews and get some good reading out of them!