Mundabor and Kindle
Invited by Defende nos in proelio to mention my three favourite Kindle books, I though it unavoidable to expand a bit on the matter and write, semel in anno, a post not directly related to Catholicism – though in the end it is, a lot -.
Firstly, let me say Kindle is a fantastic invention. It truly is. Kindle will change your life, because it changes the way you can access and enjoy books.
Have you seen those vaguely pathetic people with the huge (and I mean: huge) book on the train? Those in the airport with a sad face saying “I have just finished my favourite novel and have nothing else to read/had to carry extra weight to avoid it”? How many times have you been in front of the alternative whether to ruin your finances buying a well-printed book, and ruining your sight buying the paperback? And don’t you enjoy reading now this and now that, and change your reading as your mood carries you?
If you notice all these little things, the Kindle is made for you, because it is made for those who love reading more than they love the idea of showing bookshelves to their friends (I’ll come to that, too). It is made for those who love books too much to see the reading experience ruined by a paperback.
Say, I like reading this book for a while, but not for an afternoon. I can buy it for free (if I want to spend something and have a more elegant format and possibly better general quality, I can buy this for a pittance) and read it for as long as I want; after which, I might switch to, say, this (free!) or this (free!) or this (a pittance).
Whatever you read, Kindle will allow you to read it with a quality only the best printed books could give you. This, my friend, and no other is the best among the many advantages of switching to the new age of book-loving (yes: book-loving!): hHours or uninterrupted reading pleasure without straining your eyes. You wouldn’t (come on: in fact, you don’t!) spend a patrimony to buy – provided you find them – the best hardcover editions of your classics, just to massacre them on the train, in your pocket, in your office bag, in the rain, in the mess of life. What you would and in fact did buy were… the paperbacks! Bad printing quality, worse reading quality, a challenge to your health, and as near a disposable book experience as you can get. Plus, you can’t switch. Plus, it weights, and takes place. Plus, it’s generally ugly, or it soon becomes it.
Kindle is different. The very same extremely high reading quality is with you everywhere, and you have hundreds of books at your disposal at all times, in a light and elegant format, even with your leather pouch. You can have (as I do) books you’ve always loved in your kindle, just to read some lines from them whenever the fancy takes you (and I do!) . Prosa, poetry, and religion always with you. You wouldn’t carry a bible always with you for the case you have a fancy to read some lines out of it, would you now? I have it in several languages. Kindle is a book lover’s dream come through. Nay, Kindle surpasses everything a book lover could have dreamt of!
Then there are those among us who know – or love, or would like to improve – foreign languages. In past times, before Amazon, we went to specialised bookstores and spent there sums which made us cry. Amazon improved this a lot, but it still was a hassle, and not entirely cheap.
In the new kindle world, you can buy this for £2.68! Which is rather expensive, because in Germany it costs EUR 0.99! Unreal! And you know what? You really read it! You don’t have to decide “today I will read Kafka” before you leave home. You can read Kafka for 20 minutes, and switch to this in a second (the last one, I just bought! £0.77. Yes, seventy-seven pence, for stunning reading quality!).
Would you get out in the morning thinking “today on the train I will read Shakespeare’s sonnets”? How many do? Now you can, and it doesn’t even cost.When you long for something different, you can always switch to this.
I could go on until tomorrow, but you get my drift.
And what about the beautiful book, you will say? My answer is that no innovation ever did so much for beautiful books like Kindle. Freed from the necessity of spending money for crappy paperbacks and clogging your bookshelves with them, you can now dedicate your financial and shelves resources for what is really beautiful: for elegant illustrated books, leather-bound ones, miniature ones, and all those objects which always made – as opposed to a paperback – the tactile and visual pleasure of a book. To lament the demise of the paperback because of the kindle is to me the same than to lament the disappearance of junk food because everyone starts to eat in a fine way. The paperback never was “the book”. The paperback never was anything comparable to the pleasure of a book. You bought the paperback for the content, and the content is what you have now in the kindle, with vastly better quality and incomparably better reading pleasure, at a tiny fraction of the cost, with vastly increased flexibility.
Well then, what are my suggestions? Let me say first I will exclude religious books (too easy and predictable), and in my three choices there’ll be no Italian or German books. But I will at the same time be showing you how Kindle changes the way you read.
My suggestions are, therefore, as follows:
1. The complete Sherlock Holmes.
Pick an edition you like among the many available. I mean the complete editions. This is the age of Kindle and there’s no scope in buying these things in installments. I read all Sherlock Holmes in Italian, many years ago. Paperback. Then I bought a big hardcover here in England, of good printing quality, which I couldn’t bring with me on the train because the pain would have been too much. Then I bought the Kindle, and am now re-reading all Sherlock Holmes at my pace and in my time, without the hassle, and when I feel like it. Kindle is simply amazing.
2. The complete Anthony Trollope
I have bought this. All Trollope for less than a big coin. I had read the complete “Barsetshire” cycle on paperback (you order on Amazon; wait a couple of days; then have a bad reading experience and aching eyes). I am now reading the “Palliser” cycle, all delivered to me instantly and wirelessly, in excellent quality. A dream.
Please don’t read Dickens in 2012. It’s so banal.
3. The Lord of the Rings
Not sure there are good Kindle editions of this, but this is only a matter of time. I know it may sound trite, but greatness doesn’t become less great just because some superficial hollywood flick was made of it. Tolkien could last one a lifetime, and one would be able to discover ever new depths in him after forty years. A wonderful Catholic, too. Here too, to have a ponderous work like this in your kindle is a thing of beauty. Don’t look like the chap near you with the huge brick.
Be smart, and buy a Kindle.
P.s. there will be no invitation to other bloggers. I am too reserved for these things. But I thank for the invitation to talk about Kindle, as I am really a fan.