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To Kindle or Not To Kindle

On the face of it, a Kindle seems like an awesome idea. Millions of books on one little device that last for hours and remembers where you were when you pick it up every time. Obviously a piece of loo roll in a normal book also achieves the same effect and provides some emergency usefulness but on the whole it’s safe to say, a kindle makes sense.

So why do I not own one or intend on buying one at the moment? There is a fairly common argument around Kindles or other electronic book readers. They have the capacity to hold an entire library, books are cheap, immediate and plentiful and this sharing or free “borrowing” facility is pretty sweet, not to mention the new unlimited monthly subscription Amazon offer, but it is very hard to replicate the feeling of an actual piece of wood in your hands, that is not a euphemism, books started as trees…

To Kindle Or Not To Kindle

Herein lies another benefit of the electronic reader – it is eco-friendly. Having one reader to replace a thousand books, that’s a lot of saved trees.

This argument always leads me to the great book, 1984, where the absence of books means the powers that be, in this case Big Brother, not the show, can re-write history as they see fit. This scares me, if everything goes digital, who’s to say one day Ron Weasley isn’t turned into the baddy in an attempt to sideline gingers.

In general I really like Penguin books as they are a great size to take with you almost anywhere.

Row of Penguin Books
credit : Penguin Books Instagram

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and some hostel dorm rooms are like prison cells!

I always had a book when travelling, they provide a good bit of escapism when you need it and a distraction from the distractions. You spend a lot of time on transport and need something to pass the time. Along with music, see my previous post, literature is a good companion.

When you have a kindle, it’s another electronic device. Another thing to periodically charge but also another thing to worry about. Contemplating the tech that we plan on taking with us the next time we go away is enough to make us consider not bothering. Phones, cameras, DJ equipment, iPad, more cameras, headphones, torches etc, a kindle is just another thing to consider. Also some good conversations have come from reading the same book as someone else. Obviously you can just say “hey, what are you reading on your kindle” but this is more invasive than “hey, I just finished that, are you enjoying it?” The flip side to this is that if you are a 25 year old male reading 50 Shades of Grey then you can get away with it on a kindle.

There seems to be a common list of books that backpackers read, it has probably changed now but in 2010 they were “Shantaram”, “Eat Pray Love”, “Into the Wild”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, “On the Road” and a few others. I read Shantaram and had lots of conversations about it given many people had travelled India also. I also found the James Bond books pretty good as they were small and fun. I feel that replacing a book with a kindle would change the experience for me but I respect that the in terms of backpack real estate, a kindle is much better than any book.

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I guess it comes down personal preference, do you read that many books that you would demolish several while travelling? Are you one of those people that likes to read several books at once? Or do you like to have a tactile bunch of pages with you, to use when you need it and move on whenever?

Have you switched from book to Kindle or Kindle back to books?

What do you think?