Is It A Real Book If It’s On Kindle?

Screenshot of my iPad's Kindle app

Screenshot of my iPad’s Kindle app

The other day some friends and I were having a discussion about our church bulletin.  Each week we publish a bulletin that contains the order of service for the day, and the study guide for the week.  We were in agreement that members weren’t really completing the study guide, and were throwing around ideas about how we might encourage more participation.  One friend suggested that we purchase 3-ring binders, place decorative covers on them and print the study guides on 3-hole-punched paper, so that members could take them home keep them in their binders.  This suggestion was met with looks of horror and exclamations of shock.

“No one will use them!”

“You’re going to waste the church’s money”

“Absolutely not – who uses pen and paper anymore?”

“3-ring binders?  Are you crazy?”

For the most part, everyone thought that there was no way church members were going to keep study guides, even if given the opportunity to place them in a nicely decorated binder – and that this was highly unlikely to increase the percentage of people who completed the study guides.

The friend who made the suggestion sighed and agreed, then explained that she knew she was weird, and most likely part of a decreasing minority, but she missed pen and paper.  She loved having the opportunity to hold a book and turn the pages to read the story.  In short, she said: “I hate e-books!”

While I understand what my friend was saying, I have to admit – I am definitely a huge fan of e-books.  A few years ago, my husband bought me a Kindle – it was probably the third-generation Kindle – not yet one of the iPad-competing Fires or other devices.  I loved it!!  I loved the ability to have as many books as I wanted with me on this little device that could fit in my computer bag (which I generally always have with me).  My husband’s family is from Trinidad and we generally go to visit at least once a year.  Prior to the trip, I’d be sure to pay a visit to the library and check out the ten or so books I felt I might want to read over the vacation.  Now – I was able to reclaim space in my suitcase.  In addition – I didn’t have to decide beforehand what books I wanted to carry.  If I loaded a couple onto my Kindle, but then decided I wanted something else, it was an easy enough matter of connecting to the WiFi and purchasing and downloading it.  Millions of books at my fingertips.

Amazon’s decision to create a Kindle app was a genius move, in my opinion.  I started off with the Kindle app on my phone – now, I could carry only one device – my phone, instead of taking two (the phone and Kindle).  And then when I received an iPad, that became my preferred reading device.  Not only could I take as many books with me as I wanted, but I had access to all sorts of other reading material via the internet.  No need to plug up the laptop – I could surf the web as much as I wanted on this compact little device.

But back to books – Amazon made another genius move by allowing you to sync between all of your Kindle devices and apps.  So it didn’t matter whether you opened the book on your iPhone or iPad, you were immediately at the last place you’d read – an Internet bookmark.  The ability to highlight and take notes is fantastic.  I was not a highlighter of my “real” books, if they weren’t textbooks; I felt I needed to keep them new and untarnished.  Now – I highlight at will!  And again – thanks to the power of the Internet – my highlights and notes are with me wherever I go.  And of course because our Kindles and iPads and other tablets are really computers – we have access to the power of search.  How difficult was it to remember where in a “real” book you’d found a quote or highlight you really liked?  Now, even if you’re unsure about the book that you made the highlight, if you can narrow it down to a few possibilities, the changes of finding the quote are really very good!

The one thing that having books on my iPad has reduced in my life is library trips.  I used to visit libraries all the time – going so far as to drive to ones in other communities to track down the book that I wanted (can we say that e-books help us go green by reducing our commutes to and from libraries?).  Now – my library is amazon.com.  But…I do take my boys to the library.  We rarely buy e-books for them.  Although I wouldn’t give up my Kindle app for anything in the world, my plan is to generate a love of reading in my boys the way I fell in love – turning a book page by page.  Oxymoron?  Maybe.  😉

Happy reading!

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