Thursday, 27 April 2017


There’s an article in the Guardian this morning about how sales of ebooks are slowing, while sales of proper ‘physical’ books are booming. The author of the article says her Kindle now languishes in a drawer. It’s gratifying that books - paper books - are continuing to sell, though I’m really happy with my Kindle too.

Compared to modern, all-singing, all-dancing tablets it’s clunky, slow and bereft of ‘features’. But it does one thing, and does it well. I’m not tempted to surf the web rather than read; I’m not distracted by pop-up adverts. The text on the ‘paperwhite’ screen - which is matt rather than glossy - is easy to read in direct sunlight, and, unlike with a book, I can choose the font, the font size and the brightness of the screen.

The Kindle suits my travelling life. It's small and light. I can read in the van at night, without turning a light on. I can hold the Kindle in one hand, and tap on the screen to turn the page. I have about 80 books on the Kindle at present; they represent the books I read and re-read while I’m writing a book about belief. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christopher Hitchens are well-represented. Most books I’ve had to pay for, though some works, now out of copyright (by Bertrand Russell, Mark Twain, Frazer’s The Golden Bough, etc) I have downloaded for free. Also free for the asking are the Bible, Koran and Hadith. I wanted to cut down the number of books I had in the van - it was turning into a mobile library - and the Kindle certainly helps with that.

The Kindle’s simplicity becomes a virtue when I have to recharge it. If I plug it in for half an hour, I can carry on reading for at least a fortnight. That’s a real bonus when I have other, more important things to recharge, such as the laptop and camera batteries.

There are many things I can’t do with an ebook. I can’t sell it, or lend it to a friend or give it to a charity shop. I miss the tactile experience of turning real pages. But, for me, the sheer convenience of the Kindle is what matters; it represents £100 well spent…

The tiered tower of the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Burgh St Peter, Norfolk...

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