The Death of Print?

I love my Kindle Fire. Or at least, I used to. I’m not sure anymore.

It’s not that I hate print books. I used to love books so much that any trip that begins in a bookstore must culminate in a purchase, leading to a mini-library of sorts and the eventual realisation that I’m not going to have any more space to accommodate more books. It wasn’t as though I could make space by pulping some of the older books for objectionable content, so I decided, quite reluctantly, to embrace the e-book leap.

Enter the Kindle Fire.

Despite what the detractors say, I found it a cinch to get used to. The benefits were endless:

  • Amazon deliberately prices their books cheaply, and I dedicate a good portion of my money to buying books every month.
  • Lest you think I don’t finish them, I do. The estimated reading speed they give you makes a daunting tome manageable. 12 minutes left in chapter? I could do that.
  • Highlighting the words automatically brings up the dictionary entry for it. This was a life-saver when I ploughed through a collection of pulp fiction from the 1930s recently.
  • Literally hundreds of books that I can carry with me on a vacation!

I thought my Kindle Fire and I would grow old together; I really did… until a trip to Kinokuniya changed it all.

I had been contemplating the purchase of a new release, Jordan Ellenberg’s How Not to be Wrong. It’s a nonfiction book of mathematical thinking in everyday life and I liked what I saw on Amazon’s free preview, but I still wasn’t sure, so I made a trip to Books Kinokuniya over the weekend.

There were two versions of the book when I reached the shelf, both hardcover. One was published by Penguin and the other was by Allen Lane (also part of The Penguin Group). At S$45, it was significantly pricier than the e-book and I thought the case was closed until I picked one of them up – the one by Penguin.

While slimmer than its Allen Lane cousin, it had a certain heft to it. The cover was a beautiful turquoise and I fell in love with the feeling of the book in my hand, imagining how easy it would be to spread the book open and not risk damaging the slim volume. The coated paper sealed it for me – I spent 10 minutes flipping those pages. Not reading it, flipping and turning those pages, again and again. It took everything I had to resist buying the book there and then.

My Kindle lies beside my laptop right now, siphoning precious battery juice. Maybe, just maybe if I rearrange the books on my shelf, I can make space for just one more volume.