Monday, January 30, 2012

A cure for your Kindle Guilt

I love my e-reader, but man, do I ever feel sick about it.

Sometimes, after reading Quill & Quire, Publishers Weekly and The New York Times, I contract a serious case of what I have come to call "Kindle Guilt." The symptoms of Kindle Guilt (or KG) are quite serious and include a guilty conscience; a fear of reading at certain cafes in judgey, hipster neighbourhoods; sweaty palms that make gripping a Kindle nearly impossible; sore thumbs and, for some reason, a constant craving for a particular brand of generic Swedish Berries.

The latest source of this affliction comes to me from the very famous author Jonathan Franzen. On the topic of e-readers, Mr. Franzen is rather open about his dislike for the technology and was recently quoted as saying the following: “I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.... Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I'm handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that's reassuring."

Many people are poo-pooing e-readers these days. But in defence of the technology (and in defence, therefore, of me) let me present you with this fact: My mom's boyfriend, who used to read a couple books a year, now -- thanks entirely to his love for his e-reader -- reads a couple books a month.

So, while people like Franzen are afraid of what e-reading technology will mean for the future of printed books, people like my mom's boyfriend are falling in love with books because of the technology.

Ah. I feel better already.


  1. I'm with Franzen on the importance of books as physical objects, but have also come to love my e-book reader & the range of reading options it provides. Am less keen on e-books for kids as I think they interfere with literacy (my own observation).
    Evadne Macedo

  2. Good point about kids books, Evadne. Plus, how good are most e-readers at handling pictures, anyways? Pretty crap. (Unless you have a fancy one.)