A Misunderstood Genius? The Status of Kindles in the Literary World

The Kindle: “striking a chord wit the modern reader”

I’ll be honest: until I actually got one I lived with the assumption that Kindles were the spawn of the devil: unnatural, unneeded and encroaching on the perfectly good dominion of the printed word. In fact, my first response when first I heard about the Kindle all the way back in 2011 was one of outrage: how dare they try and digitise the press? How ridiculous! I, for one, would never be converted.

Needless to say, all that changed once I got a Kindle for myself. It’s official: I’m a convert.

But why? Why has the Kindle- and all the other digital devices on sale (the Hulu and the Apple Library App to name a few) stormed the market with such success, and converted so many previously snobbish hard-core literary enthusiasts? It’s at this point that I have to say that the Kindle is fantastically user-friendly. Yes, you need an Amazon account, but once that’s set up and the Kindle’s been patched through to your Wi-Fi, you’re basically good to go. If you’re one of those people who, like me, get through books at a prodigious rate (especially after exams, where there’s nothing to do during the daytime), the Kindle is a godsend simply because any book you fancy can be relayed through to your device at the touch of a button. Even if you don’t really want to buy it, there’s a lending app that works as a library, allowing you to ‘borrow’ books rather than buying them outright. There’s not a lot to it, which is probably why it’s also been so successful with my less tech-savvy parents. There’s also the fact that you don’t have to tramp down to the library or your nearest bookstore and drag your purchases back home afterwards. You can even surf the Internet, which is sometimes exactly what you need when you’ve finished your latest novel and aren’t quite sure what to do next.

Surfing the Internet is what brings me to my second point: the Kindle’s main selling point, which is its fantastic convenience. My brother recently went on holiday with us in the pre-Kindle era, and the airport staff dragged him aside during the baggage scan. They thought they’d detected something rather dense in his bag, so imagine our surprise when they pulled out a grand total of fourteen books and five comics from the depths of his luggage. Fourteen! Even the staff were surprised. Needless to say, we bought him a Kindle afterwards, and now he takes that instead. That, and two books. That’s its great advantage: when you’re on holiday, you don’t have to worry about packing things to do or a hundred different things to read: just download two or three books onto your device and then read at leisure later on. The fact that the Kindle can connect to the Internet just makes it easier to update your reading list whilst on holiday- or, if your phone’s not working, even to check Facebook. Plus, saving packing space in your luggage allows you to bring more clothes, so from a girl’s perspective, it’s a win-win situation.

It also has to be said that the publishing market is changing. The world is becoming more and more digitised; we are always on our smartphones or on the Internet. Books- paper- are becoming obsolete, and hardly any of us actually buy newspapers now, preferring instead to read them online. With the Kindle, when a new text is released by your favourite author, there’s no rush, and you can have it in your device within minutes of it being published. Everything’s just so much more efficient on the Internet and this is no exception: books are cheaper when you buy them on Kindle and they’re easier to obtain- sometimes bookstores simply don’t stock the texts you want to read. All that frustration is gone when you use a Kindle: you can have a two-day reading marathon without having to leave your bed if you really want to, without even having to reach for the next tome. Less time preparing and more time reading.

All of these points combine to form one inescapable truth: the Kindle is extremely popular. With more and more people joining the Amazon online community, it’s impossible to deny that they’ve touched a nerve in the general public, and for several reasons. The Kindle is compact, easy to transport and delivers a variety of different texts- all the books you could wish to read- at the touch of a button. It’s a bookstore, but without the hassle of finding the books in the first place. In an increasingly digitised era, the Kindle’s digitalisation and its capability to access the Internet from just about anywhere with Wi-Fi will strike a chord with the modern reader, not to mention its holiday-friendliness. Like it or not, the Kindle is here to stay.

Well, it’s certainly converted this reader.

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