When I first got my kindle – once I had sussed out how to use the wretched thing – I became an advocate and spread the word and truly it is excellent on the train or on holiday. In fact I spotted a guy on the train who had what must be the king of Kindles on its own plinth angled for maximum reading facility. Now I realise that there is a class structure, as in so much else, with Kindles.But my enthusiasm has been muted, don’t get me wrong I still love it but I realise now that it has its limitations: it is plastic and nobody has ever turned its pages before myself. It has no odour – though I suppose I could squirt it with Givenchy or some such but that would not be unique and I reckon I am just an old fashioned gal who is steeped in sentiment and I actually get a buzz out of thinking about the characters who have handled my library book before or, in the case of a new book that wonderful scent of paper, print and I know not what, just newness. Also the fact that I can riffle the pages to check on a character. I know that on my Kindle I can turn back one page at a time but it’s all a bit arduous and not the same.
I still like my kindle and I will use it on my travels and it is invaluable to take on holiday – I have been stuck in many foreign towns with nothing to read and now this won’t happen. Also the wonder of buying a book at 2am I find quite enchanting . But I do prefer the paper book for its scent and touch and even those covers dreamed up mostly by publicity people and sometimes with little to do with the content.
Old books smell of old times and I envisage candles, oil lamps and gas mantles shining on these same pages bringing pleasure to generations beyond my own. Even turned down corners are acceptable in the case of truly ancient books and the odd tea stain fascinates me – when, how where? The smell of second hand book shops is very special and the people who run them are special too. I have been to book fairs and watched them dickering over prices but in a civilised way that enters few spheres of marketing.
So, I will enjoy my kindle in its soullessness when I need to but I remain a book person who drools over old books and buries her face in new ones and I love the feel of a book in my hand above most things. I am fervent about words in all their forms so the Kindle is a newish way of spreading the word about books and it is an admirable gadget but it only interfered with my adoration of books quite briefly. There is plenty of room for both, and no, I don’t see the death of conventional books – not yet anyway,