Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?

My boyfriend asked me if I want a Kindle for Hanukkah this year. “What?” I responded, almost offended. “Why?”

I felt horrible immediately, because he was just trying to be attentive. You see, I’ve been reading a lot lately, and he thought this would support those efforts.

I then lovingly told him how I once swore I would NEVER own a Kindle. When I read a book, I want to hold it in my hand, feel the cover, flip through the pages.

There’s just something extra relaxing about taking a break from technology when you read. And in this day and age, there’s almost a romantic aspect to the printed word (which I miss, more and more). If I became a Kindle-owner, I’d become a traitor to my kind: traditional writers everywhere.

But then my boyfriend said something to me:

“I think Kindles have revitalized our society’s interest in reading novels. Without Kindles, I don’t think people would read as much. We wouldn’t be as literate.”

Hmm. Pretty darn good point.

Friend or Foe?

That got me thinking. Americans love their gadgets. I mean seriously, our own president has claimed addiction to his Blackberry. Every time a new iPhone comes out, people storm the stores. We don’t just want computers, we want T.V.s, phones, and newspapers all wrapped into one.

So, is it possible that Kindles have reignited our country’s excitement over literature?

  • We hear a lot of talk about the fall of book publishing.
  • Hardbacks are giving way to e-books.
  • Authors are expected to market themselves more and more.
  • I’ve heard mutters that writers (novelists and authors) may someday become obsolete.

But is that really true?

Is it possible that, because of Kindles, novelists and authors may still have a very solid future? Perhaps, the Kindle is securing our ability to be relevant in this technology-driven world. And taking this one step further, perhaps without gadgets like the Kindle, writers would be struggling more than ever.

Now I’m reconsidering. Maybe I would like to try a Kindle for Hanukkah.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the Kindle helping secure our relevancy as writers, novelists and authors? Or is it helping to kill our profession, our craft, and our demand?

29 responses to “Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?”

  1. […] on my blog, I always ask a question at the end of my posts. For a recent topic, I wrote about, “Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?” Rather than just finishing with my thoughts, I asked my readers, “What do you think? Are […]

  2. […] on my blog, I always ask a question at the end of my posts. For a recent topic, I wrote about, “Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?” Rather than just finishing with my thoughts, I asked my readers, “What do you think? Are […]

  3. I ADORE my Kindle. I call it my Crandle because it is so addictive. I have read more in the year since I got it than in many years past. It has opened up a new world of writers and topics that I probably would never have investigated… and liked! My desire to learn has been, indeed, kindled, by using the Kindle. It can only work to our benefit as writers.

  4. […] on my blog, I always ask a question at the end of my posts. For a recent topic, I wrote about, “Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?” Rather than just finishing with my thoughts, I asked my readers, “What do you think? Are […]

  5. […] on my blog, I always ask a question at the end of my posts. For a recent topic, I wrote about, “Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?” Rather than just finishing with my thoughts, I asked my readers, “What do you think? Are […]

  6. I’m way late to the party (as I was on Twitter and blog hiatus), BUT I wanted to chime in when I saw the notification for this post. I have been a book-sniffer – i.e. paper/ink gal forever and publicly derided those who had e-readers until … um, I won one. I have YET to sit and read an entire book on my Kindle (as I’m reading a few paper-ink books that were first in line), BUT I have read several pages and I believe there may – gasp – be a place in my life for BOTH forms of books. I can see where the Kindle is going to help me add notes to novels I read for craft purposes (rather than use my sticky notes and pull out a pen that I inevitably drop in the bed and mark the sheets up with inadvertently).

    And I love – like others have mentioned – the ability to store so many books without my shelf falling over. I think I will be the type of reader who chooses some books in e-format, and some in print. If I really LOVE a book that I happen to buy on the Kindle, then I will go out and buy a hard copy for my bookshelf as well. I think e-books might have actually helped, though mere weeks ago, I would NEVER have admitted it. Still, I long for the feel of paper/ink, and the smell of a good printed book. That’s something that will NEVER change.

    THe other GOOD thing for authors: royalties on e-books are better than on print books!

  7. Love love love my kindle, and read a loot more varied now. I use it to check out library books, to discover new authors that I’m not sure will make it into the permanent collection, and to reduce the piles of books that has become a source of frustration in my life. I don’t miss the paper book the way I thought I would, and take many more “notes in the margin” than I ever did with paper.
    I’ve always loved reading, but do it even more now. I think I have finished about 18 books since end of September when I got the Kindle as a birthday gift.

  8. Shari, I’ve been debating this issue internally, too (and I’ve got to decide between the Kindle or Nook). I’m tired of having so many books to tote around, and a Kindle/Nook may allieviate that issue. Like, your boyfriend note, I (even as a reader) read MORE because of online access.

    You write: “Because of Kindles, novelists and authors may still have a very solid future.”

    I say: Here’s hoping.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post,

    1. EDIT: Like your boyfriend noted, I (even as a reader already) read MORE because of online access.

  9. I’ve been thinking a lot about getting a Kindle lately. Right now I get most of my books from the library. If I had a Kindle, I’m sure I would buy more of them, so I would be better supporting my favorite authors. But I do love the feel of a “real” book in my hands. Still undecided.

    1. I like the point you bring up, Shary. Kindles may prompt us to purchase books from our favorite authors, thus supporting them in their writing endeavors (versus borrowing hardbacks, which I do quite often, from my friends). I’m torn too, because like you, I love the feel of a “real” book in my hand as well.

  10. I know what you mean. I personally have a hard time reading for a long period of time with a computer screen. And one of the reasons I love reading books is because I’m on the computer constantly. However, I do agree that they are quite useful and it does open an entire world of publishing to writers and readers.

    1. I’m just like you Leah. I’m on the computer ALL DAY for my job, which is one of the reasons I look forward to curling up in bed with a print book and relaxing ’till I fall asleep. It’s like an escape from the computer.

  11. I thought I’d never want an ereader until I tried my husband’s Kindle was hooked immediately. I also notice that my friends with Kindles are CONSTANTLY asking me for book recommendations. This wasn’t the case a few years ago. I think people love the feature of sampling a chapter and the ability to carry so many books at once. It’s pretty freaking cool. I just ordered the touch since it’s not working so well for my husband and I to share one device. I considered the Fire but I want the device to be as book-like as possible. If I can switch to Twitter or a movie with just a click then I’ll never stick to my book-a-week regimen.

    1. Really? And I think you bring up a good point, Nina, about how your friends ask you for book recommendations, but that didn’t happen a few years ago. I think, in a way, that may represent a trend in our society’s renewed interest in reading and literature, BECAUSE of e-readers like the Kindle.

  12. I can’t see myself reading books on a tiny iPhone screen, but the Kindle doesn’t feel *radically* different than a book to me, since it’s about the same size. And it’s great for bringing on trips, because you can bring so many books without all the weight of them. 🙂

    And I’m sure it’s increased my book purchases, because I can download them waaaaay too easily. For example, one night I was reading Entertainment Weekly in bed and read a review of a book I knew I’d love. I picked up my Kindle, found the book, and downloaded it in less than two minutes. Without even getting out of bed! I’ve also pre-ordered Kindle books, which is really cool, because the day that the book comes out, it’s just there on your Kindle when you wake up in the morning!

    I think that right now, we’re still in the getting-to-know-you phase with e-readers. A lot of otherwise unpublished writers are using electronic publishing to get their books out there, and there are a few that are good, and a lot that are BAD. But I think that in the next few years, publishing houses will start reworking their models to better work with the whole e-book/self-pub system, and that the best writers will still be able to find their way to the top.

    1. Julie, I’ve heard several people say the same thing as you, regarding Kindles and travel. And I LOVE your Entertainment Weekly story. I never even thought of using a Kindle like that! Wow, talk about convenience (and a serious “win” for the author). I’m just so fascinated by how these simple, book-sized devices have changed our world!

  13. The Misses is a self-professed Lit Geek. She now reads most of her books on her I-Phone, which is the same as a Kindle. Although she pays more attention to her phone than me in bed, I can see the advantages:

    1. It’s way cheaper for the amount of books she reads (2 or 3 a month) than buying the hard copy.
    2. It’s more convenient, you can bring several books with you wherever you go
    3. Less paper is better for the environment

    Last but not least, anyone can become an “author” thanks to online publishing. There may not be a Paul Before Swine book any time soon, but it’s still fun to imagine!

    1. Wow, her iPhone! I like to joke that I still have a “stupid” phone. Y’know, no internet. I definitely think the digital age has opened the doors for many more writers to put their voices out there and be heard. Keep dreaming Paul! I’d like to see a Paul Before Swine book within the next decade. 🙂

  14. […] Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy? by Shari Lopatin […]

  15. I’ve been debating on buying a Kindle for sometime. It’s difficult to find English books on this island, so having a Kindle would be great for me. I am however that old fashioned page turner kinda gal, but technology is taking over and there are limits to the English print book in Sardinia.
    Great post.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I’m thinking it may just be one of those “try it and see” things. If you dive into the unknown, let me know how you like it!

  16. the biggest fight i ever had with my husband (married 25+ years) was when he bought me a kindle… i tore into him about how i love books/i’m a writer/i love my print by-line/how could he not know all that i stand for! and burst into tears… then returned it. 3 yaers later, we bought one for a trip and have only used it once… i STILL go to the library!

    1. It really is just like reading a book…except lighter. U have to go in with an ipen mind and start reading and it is awesome!

    2. Haha! Classic. I’m not much of a library hound, but I LOVE Bookman’s. I’m not sure where you live, but here in Arizona, Bookman’s is a used bookstore, where you can trade books for new ones, or sell back old ones. You can find some real treasures there, and for a heck of a cheap price, too! Even if I try the Kindle, I think I’ll still go back and buy more books at Bookman’s. 🙂

  17. I completely agree that the best way to read is to hold the book in your hands, but I got a Kindle for my birthday last year and have to admit that it’s a brilliant invention. You just think of a book and then 30 seconds later, you can be reading it. I see more and more people on the train and bus using Kindles and other e-readers instead of just playing on their phones or reading a newspaper. People ARE obsessed with technology and e-readers have brought an almost-obsolete past-time into the 21st century.

    1. That sounds like a HUGE advantage. Do you ever get cravings to read certain books? For example, recently, I was craving to read Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” but couldn’t find it anywhere! I hadn’t read that since high school. If I’d had a Kindle, I would have been able to start reading almost instantaneously. Great perspective, thank you!

  18. I think Kindles do the same things books do. Help us learn. It is still reading a book just in a new and easier way. You are still reading a book, whatever kind you like. It just makes it easier to carry around and get new books. Why not? Same experience, easier.

    1. Very, very true. Kindles help us learn, and as my boyfriend said, Kindles may have increased our society’s interest in reading. Which equals a more informed and educated populace. Which is a GOOD thing!

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