Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Product review: Kindle vs Book

Kindle vs Book

Having just read another book on my Kindle I found several itching points that I have discussed with my co-authors here at A Secret Reading Garden and thought i would like to share with your lovely selves.

To give you some background, shortly after moving house and struggling with lugging all my books into boxes, downstairs, upstairs and back out of boxes (only to find not a single shelf in my new room!) its easy to say i was open to persuasion for an easier alternative. Zuzana showed me her Kindle which amazed me! All those books on one tidy, neat, light-weight device. It was easy to read, the screen and text were appealing and in the style of an actual novel. It was a winner in my opinion! So won-over by the Kindle i set out the very next day to Tesco's to purchase one. And at £111 at the time, it was a dear impulse buy!
So with Kindle in hand and a smile on my face i couldn't wait to get set-up and started. 

At that time i also decided (another impulse) to enroll on my Masters degree, so for commitment issues, my kindle was shortly resigned to the book-shelf  and started to collect dust.
To date, i have read several novels on my Kindle including Water for Elephants, Life of Pi, and even started Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution! But once again, resumed its ornamental status.

I decided i would start reading '13 Reasons Why' on my Kindle (see Book Review). I have neglected my e-Reader for some time so decided to refresh, replenish and re-invest into my electronic book collection once and for all. In the review, you will have seen that for reasons told, i am not happy with the Kindle version of this book as the format did not reflect that in the hard-copy.  It didn't do it the justice that was given in paper form.

So! Let the fight begin!

Round 1
Anticipation round

The excitement of purchasing a new book and either taking it home with you or having it land through your doorstep is one that i enjoy. There is an anticipation and an excitement in giving your time to looking, choosing and committing yourself to purchasing a book in a store. With the kindle, its a quick title or author search, one-click buy and within seconds, the e-book is ready at your fingertips to read! This is a tough round, especially if you are short of time or have a 'regular' job and hate Saturday shopping centers.
It is a tough and close round, but after careful consideration, there really is something magical and more exciting when you have a physical object in your hands.
Round one therefore goes to Book!

Round 2
Visual Round

There are many aspects of a book that Amazon Kindle have tried to replicate. I admit that they have done some of these very well. The text and format of the screen is quite like that of a book. The screen doesn't glare, nor is it hard to read in very light or dark places. However, the Kindle is monochrome. Big fail! The second most important aspect of any book, second only to the content itself, is the artwork. The presentation of the book. The artwork itself is (sometimes) a beautiful aspect of any book. The colours and textures used for the front cover and within a book are simply not translated through the kindle well at all (if at all). Front pages look dated, Also, the e-books i have read, skip the viewing of the front cover and set you up on the contents page. Why?
To me, the front cover is a very important feature of all books. It works to attract you. It sets a precedent and expectation of the book. It tells us how we feel about the book before we have even read past the title!
It is easy to say that Round 2 goes easily to Book!

Round 3

Sensory Round

Despite Kindle trying to replicate as many aspects of a book as possible, there are several aspects that cannot be replicated on a digital device. These are characteristics that all book lovers i think will agree is what keeps us going back time and time again. They are certainly aspects that make me love books. 
The smell of a book.
The cracking of the spine.
The texture of the pages when caught in the right light.
Round 3 goes once again to Book!

Round 4
Progression Round
'How far have i read?', 'How much further to go?' 
Progress checking is definitely something i like to do with a book. I judge the pages left and pages read to see how far on i am and have left to go. I also flip pages to see how much left of the chapter i have and whether i should get some sleep or carry on just a little bit further! 
You turn a page at the click of a button. Yes, this is easy and allows for seamless regular reading, but no more seamless than turning a page. In fact, as a book lover, there's something quite satisfying in turning that page. The sound of it turning and the texture of the pages. The excitement of the next sentence concealed from you until you turn that leaf over! 
Despite kindle having a % (of the book) displayed on the bottom of the screen, i don't find much use or excitement in it. I usually judge my book progress in fractions, two fifths, half way, three quarters, ALMOST done! Although its quite easy to translate a percentage into a fraction, it simply is not the same as holding the book on your page and looking at how far you've come, and how far you have still to go. 
Further to this you have to flip pages singularly and wait for the kindle to re-calibrate its screen each and every page. This does not make for quick and easy page-flipping either forwards or backwards. It's boring and time-consuming and half-the-time i end up loosing my page or putting the book down without even bothering seeing how much of until the end of the chapter. 
Round 4 once again goes to Book!

Round 5
Practicality Round
I have often found myself on the sofa, or in bed reading and trying to be comfortable and able to read at the same time. I have had numerous dead-arms,aching arms, pressure point-aches and times where my book has fallen and hit me square in the face! I do admit that it can be quite awkward to lay in bed and have to adjust yourself every time you turn the page or when you get an ache. However, the the Kindle is practical, light weight and you don't have to hold the pages open or at an angle that catches the light. The screen of the Kindle is flat and easy to read at all angles and in most light settings.
The Kindle makes a great come-back at Book with the fact that it is so practical. Books can be heavy and bulky. They take up space and weigh your bag down. Especially if you have a few books on the go at once! They sometimes jab you in your side with the corners. The kindle is slim and light and can fit thousands of book on it at any one time. I have a leather case to protect my device and even then it is still uber-practical!
On this aspect, the Kindle wins every time.  
Round 5 finally goes to Kindle!

Round 6
Formatting Round
Books are heavy. Especially an academic book! Especially 7 different academic books that you need for 1 assignment, but you have 4 assignments! I therefore took the initiative to download documents, texts and publications of interest and use during my studies as an attempt to address this issue. 
Unfortunately, although saving me several twisted and strained muscles,  this did not work as i had hoped and expected. I converted my texts using e-Reader conversion software. But when i came to viewing the documents, they were badly adjusted. Pages did not fit the screen properly, texts were either huge or tiny, i could not scan a book, flick through the pages until i could see relevant material. Even though there is a chapter contents page on most e-books, this was useless as i'm sue most academics will understand.  
The final round goes once again to Book! 

So at the end of the Rounds the clear winner of this head-to-head battle is The Book!!!

One thing i do think the Kindle is lacking in its competition with the book-market is the accessibility to a book after purchase. If i buy a book, i want all-round access to it. After all why should i have to buy the book twice, once in hard-back, another on my e-Reader. I think a great idea, though complicated to create, would be to receive a unique code with your book purchase that enables you to download the electronic version to your e-Reader if desired. Also, if purchased on your e-Reader, then you could receive a discount on future purchase of the physical book. After all, we all have our favorites collection that we all love to keep and revisit again.

I do love good books, to me there will not be a device that can make books a thing of the past. I understand now why my Kindle has been gathering dust on my shelf. Unfortunately, despite its practicality, the Kindle just doesn't scrub-up to the real thing!

Trinity College Old Library in Dublin, Ireland.

But we live in a world now where our purchases are ever more technological, all-in-one, ninjas of the information world. I have an iPad which does a heck of a lot of things! I have found myself in no need of an actual camera. One that you buy just to take pictures! I have one on my iPhone, iPod and iPad (I'm starting to think this is an apple take-over!!!). As with most people, i have not had an alarm clock for many years!

Maybe in 100 years, there will be nothing in a living room apart from a glass plate table-top that is interactive, plays TV, displays and reads the news and turns the controls of your microwave which you put your porridge in just a moment ago. It may also come with glass plate tablets for individual use! No fire, no books no bookshelves, no ornaments. Nothing but a sofa, an interactive table and an abstract painting on the mono-chrome wall.

I would love to hear what you guys think about anything iv said and what your views are on e-Readers. I have the Kindle but i'm aware of the extensive market and varieties out there. I'm sure there are many pros and cons to each of them! But can any of them out-match a book?

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