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Books Suck: Why I Love My Kindle More Than Dead Trees

Harry Guinness 22-12-2014

I love to read. I’m never happier than when I’m nose deep in a good novel.


I could say that I love books but that would be wrong. I love stories, the written word, a well woven tale or a carefully crafted thesis. But books? I can’t bloody stand books.

The best Christmas gift I ever got was a Kindle Keyboard Nerd Nostalgia: MakeUseOf Remembers Geeky Gifts From The Past While looking forwards is ultimately positive, occasionally looking back can also be a good thing. Nostalgic nerdgasms now! Read More — it changed my life. I went from reading 30 or 40 books a year to more than 60. The reason: reading an eBook is a million times better than reading a printed book.

The Settled Debate

As someone who’s dropped a Wheel of Time novel on my face, I can tell you the debate on reading experience is well over. Modern e-readers hold thousands of novels, weigh next to nothing, have built in lights, high resolution screens and don’t give you a concussion when they hit your nose. Books hold a single novel (or occasionally a couple of shorter ones), weigh way more, have to be angled towards a light, rely on manual screen refresh and can give you a black eye for weeks.


A few years ago there was an argument to be had — older Kindles had lower resolution screens that were more dark-grey and light-grey than black and white — but the rapid march of technology has overcome these short-fallings. There is only one defence left to physical book lovers.

The last refuge of the luddite: emotion.

And We’ve Heard It All Before

There are well meaning, intelligent people out there who genuinely believe that vinyl is the best way to listen to music — they even have websites dedicated to tracking down records WaxFM: Find Your Favorite Music Records On Vinyl Read More . Instead, while they’re online they should ignore Taylor Swift Why Taylor Swift Is Wrong About Spotify In the past week Taylor Swift has pulled her music from Spotify, inspired countless song-pun laden headlines and reignited the debate about streaming music services. Read More and sign up for a Spotify account. They can built a complete music collection Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify is no longer content to just compete with radio, now they're competing with the idea of even owning music. Read More and listen to it at a far higher quality.

They won’t do that though, because vinyl feels better.

The same arguments happened when tapes, and then CDs, and then iTunes and now, finally, Spotify, have come along. No improvements in technology will ever convince a vinyl aficionado that they’re wrong. We’re seeing the exact same thing with ebooks.

Judging Books By Their Insides

You don’t pick up a Terry Pratchett novel because it’s a well bound book — most paperbacks are really poorly bound anyway. You pick one up because you know it’s going to contain a great story, hilarious characters and a cutting satire of pop culture. No one goes, “I love Terry Pratchett, all his books use such high quality paper — and the font choices? Oh my…”

You love Terry Pratchett because of how his words make you feel. When you’re being drawn into Ankh-Morpork you don’t want to be distracted by whatever you’re reading the story on — whether it’s a paperback, e-reader or smartphone. You want it to just fade into the background unnoticed. Books for years have been great at this. E-readers are now even better. (Smartphones though, suck at it).


You can sit for hours with a Kindle and never think about it for a second — all your focus is where it should be: in the story, on the streets of Ankh-Morpork or wherever else you like to be drawn.

On The Emotional Nature Of Kindles

So where does the love of physical books come from? In all my conversations on the subject, two things come up time and time again. People love that a book is theirs — the battered tea-stained pages remind them of where they were at in their life when they read it — and they love the smell.

The first point I get. Physical objects trigger emotional memories. But you know what else is a physical object? My Kindle.

If I pick my Kindle up and sit quietly for a moment memories come flooding back to me. Echoes of emotions once felt are tied inextricably with what I was reading at the time. I instantly remember what I was reading to distract myself in the weeks following a breakup and the escape it brought me. I know what books I’ve picked up to celebrate a pay cheque, or were bought when I really couldn’t afford them but desperately wanted something to read. Faint tendrils of my excitement (and guilt-tinged excitement) cling tight to my Kindle. Every time I pick it up I touch them.

While a paperback might be able to trigger three or four memories, my Kindle holds hundreds.

As for the people who love the smell of paper books? They’re just strange!

The Last Chapter

I’m not some tech-loving writer who can’t stand books because they’re old. I’m a tech-loving writer who can’t stand books because they’re awful. Ten years ago, I loved books because the alternative was scrolls. Now that there are e-readers, it’s time to move on, accept the advances of modernity and realise just because something is old, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Trust me, pick up a Kindle Paperwhite Kindle Paperwhite Review & Giveaway The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon's current flagship reader, and one that we've been wanting to review and give away for quite some time. If you already own a Kindle or a different eReader, you may... Read More — you’ll love it.

And seriously, what’s the deal with the smell?

Explore more about: Amazon Kindle, Ebooks, Reading.

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  1. Andy
    April 4, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    Probably off writing an article about Kindle Dwindle as we speak...

  2. Johnny
    January 7, 2019 at 6:50 am

    The arguments in this article are terrible. Who allowed this dude to write this?

  3. Michelle
    January 2, 2018 at 11:03 am

    You are condescending and ignorant. Brand new albums are still being released ON VINYL, believe it or not. Have you ever even heard a vinyl??? And I mean one that isn't 50 years old and scratchy? And yes, some people do care about fonts and pretty covers and the like.

    A person with the battered tea-stained paged book will likely still own that book in 50 years, but your beloved kindle will be in a landfill somewhere. None of the books on your kindle can be passed on to grandchildren who'll get to hold and read the very same book grandma read all these years ago.

    • nunyabiz
      July 27, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      Yeah, I thought it was a very nasty argument, too. Gee, I wonder who's arguing with him about books? Probably a lot of people, considering how he makes it sound like a personal attack against book lovers. You can't just leave it at, "Oh, I prefer the Kindle"? You have to go, "People who like the smell of books are strange!" That's a great argument.

    • Claudia Philippe
      August 9, 2019 at 10:58 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree. There are ageless stories, stories that tell of other times, feelings at once unrelatable and then relatable ... but my heart broke when I discovered that my valued paperback books were disintegrating so fast that I didn't even have time to re-read them, let alone keep them for those I wanted to share them with, either now or in the future.