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The Dangers of Kindle Reading

I love reading. My anxiety has basically reduced the amount of reading I do from a novel a week to something more along the lines of a novel a month or a season. It sucks, but that’s life. I still try to force myself to power through some books. In fact I have a tendency to read really thick books like Patrick Rothfuss’s King Slayer books, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time novels, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, or Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight series. For about two years I had a thirty to forty minute commute both to and from work each day and I filled that time listening to several novels from Audible. This was an enjoyable way to fill that otherwise dead time, but Audible books don’t work for me in any other circumstance. So to make reading more portable and accessible I use the Kindle App on my first generation Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Now I can carry an entire library with me at any time and theoretically be able to read whenever the whim strikes me. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some issues (that’s what we computer people call problems) inherent in the system.

First and foremost, if you switch to a digital format you have to either split your library into paper and non-paper, or you have to repurchase all of your books all over again. For me that wasn’t such a difficult challenge as most of my older books are gone anyway either loaned and never returned, stored in less than perfect conditions and ruined, or traded/sold at used book stores where it isn’t in their best interests to go one for one with you. So in reality, buying digital to me means always having access to my library – assuming Amazon continues to stay in business of course.

Second, my ability to read now depends greatly on how charged my tablet is. This problem can be mitigated by having several devices each hooked up to the same Kindle account, BUT I usually read on my tablet and if it dies, so does my ability to read. Note that this isn’t all bad since at times my tablet dying has caused me to actually go to sleep instead of staying awake while trying to find out just what the FLIP happened to Arya.

Finally we have the whole reason why I started to write this post. With dead tree version of a book, you hold something in your hands while you read that gives you a status of where you are in the book. With the exception of some books such as The Wheel of Time books or Song of Ice and Fire books which have extensive notes and appendices in the back of the book, paper books tell you how close you are to the end of the book. If you are reading a page and the back cover is only three pages away, you’re almost done. This does not translate to the Kindle App. Sure the Kindle App will show you how many out of fifty thousand divisions you are to the end of the book if you look, but you have to look. There is no physical difference in how you hold your reading device on page one than page five hundred one and as a result suddenly the story can just … stop. That’s exactly what happened to me with Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, a not thin book that I read a little at a time as my anxiety allowed. I guess I read more per sitting than I suspected because when I thought the book should have really started to take off, and it seemed like it was about to, it ended.

What the f*uck?

Thank you Kindle. Thank you ever so much for basically giving me what was in literary terms a premature ejaculation. Everything in the story was building up, and when I expected things to get really good I find out that not only have you finished, but there’s no cuddling afterwards. All of this would have been fine if that were what I was expecting, but NO you had to go and make it seem like things were going to keep developing into something more. That just made me pissed. NOW I have to figure out how to finish by myself. I’m thinking some fan fiction might do me wonders. I guess I COULD go get the second book of the series, but I know that’s exactly what YOU want so I’m not going to. I’m going to make you wait like the lying whore you are.

I’m not exactly sure what just happened there, but I leave it as a good representation of just how dangerous reading on an electronic device can be.

© 2012, Joe Little. All rights reserved.