Kindle and the Book End

Don’t worry, I won’t add another chapter to the cliché that e-readers are paving the way to the end of books (and to reading altogether).

I think myself as pragmatic (although, being French, I can’t help being critical and suspicious of novelty). After 6 months of use, I can say that I’ve adopted the Kindle with enthusiasm, especially as it suits my present needs. I have little time to go to bookshops, so the direct purchase and instant download from Amazon is just great. While feeding the baby, I only need one finger to “turn” the pages with the Kindle propped up against a cushion. I appreciate reading in larger characters and in the dark without disturbing the precious sleep of everybody else (yes, some twists and turns keep even the most sleep-deprived mother up late at night).

I have been annoyed at first by the note “8 minutes left in the chapter” at the bottom of each page. Call me competitive, or overly sensitive, but I did wonder how it was calculated and it put me under pressure to read faster. Whenever I had to leave the page to, say, change a diaper, it felt like the clock hidden in the Kindle was ticking and the little Kindle fairy was tut-tutting: why, late again?

Uh, need I say that I hate being late?

I was so relieved when I managed to turn that pesky option off.

The thing I still can’t get used to is the abrupt end of the books. Of course, as I reach 98% of completion, I know it’s over soon, but what happens to the exhilaration of turning the last pages, either by slowing down (to enjoy it a moment longer) or by accelerating your reading pace (to find out the truth behind it all)? In virtual life, things are very anticlimactic.

In a real book, the weight on your right hand becomes lighter and lighter, and then you can shut the cover down and your right hand remains empty, in a metaphor of grief (sometimes the sadness of leaving beloved characters is nothing short of real!)

Here nothing tells me in advance that I’m reading the final page. I continue tapping, and suddenly Amazon asks me to rate the book! How brutal! How rude and inconsiderate! And if I persist and want to go back to the last page to stay a little longer, I get directed to the home page as if insistently asked to get on with my life and please choose another book now.

Looks like the Kindle fairy has bad manners. Sigh.

But I probably won’t hold a grudge for long.

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4 thoughts on “Kindle and the Book End

  1. Oh I really do sympathise about that last page problem. The only thing that annoys me more (and this is true of pear versions as well) is when the publishers have included the first chapter of the author’s next book and instead of having another thirty or so pages to read as you thought the book is suddenly over.

  2. I have an older Kindle, so it doesn’t have all the “features” you describe. I have not ceased to like real books printed on paper, but there are times and places where the Kindle is very useful. Also, as a cheapskate who reads a lot of classics, I am pleased by how much free stuff there is to download.

  3. I know exactly how you feel about the abrupt ending to ebooks! I know the end is coming but you never can tell exactly when that will be and I am generally always surprised. Still, they are convenient things as you have found out.

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