The Kindle Criticism I Reject Out Of Hand

Shortly I’m going to post my review of the Kindle. I had held off because I wanted to have actually read some books to completion on it. I’ve done all the major functions at this point. I’ve read books I’ve purchased from Amazon – both from the web page and directly from the device. I’ve read my own documents, I’ve read review copies I got in AZW format, ones that I’ve had to convert, etc. At this point, I’ve done most of what you can do.

Prior to writing that, I want to head off one criticism that I read or hear at least once in any discussion of the device. In any Kindle conversation that goes any length, in person or online, you are guaranteed to hear the statement “The Kindle doesn’t appeal to me. I just love paper books.” That’s an admirable outlook. Paper books need people to love them. I love books too, I have a house full of them and no intention of getting rid of them. However that’s a statement about you, not about the device and it is completely irrelevant.

I love horses. They are fine, majestic animals. However, I’m going to keep driving my car to work. I love vinyl albums but I’m going to keep my CDs and my MP3 player, and despite the fact that vinyl sounds superior I’ll keep buying MP3s from the Amazon music store. I think a pork butt that is smoked over mesquite for 24 hours is about as good as food gets, but I’m keeping my microwave.

Unless your bibliophilia is driven by pure collector mania, you are reading some of these books. The Kindle is a fine, convenient device for reading. It’s not something that will subsume all reading ever under any circumstance. It has its uses and affordances and strong points and weak points, just like anything.

If your big opening salvo against the Kindle is “I love paper books” don’t be surprised if I ignore you and your input. If your big criticism of eating hamburgers is that you love sushi, you’ll get the same reaction from me. If you can’t understand different things have different usage patterns and that one pattern doesn’t negate the others, we’re unlikely to have a basis for this conversation.

PS – As I am composing this post, I just heard Pat Conroy on TV saying very similar things to those I reject. He doesn’t understand why anyone would want to read on the Kindle. Simmer down Pat, it’s a lower friction way for people to pay you. Be magnanimous enough to let them pay you for your writing. I have no doubt that if you were saying this in 1939, you’d be decrying the uncivilized form factor of the paperback book because you just love your hardcovers.