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Kindle vs. books

Clare Hyde asks whether a Kindle is really better than a conventional book.

“Books are no more threatened by the Kindle than stairs by elevators” Stephen Fry

It comes as no surprise that with the increased use of technology, the book, like many other objects, has been transformed into a screen. Newspaper stories have been reduced to Twitter’s trending topics, aging photographs have been immortalized in iPhones, and now books are following suit.
Of course, with this change has come a variety of criticisms from readers: you can’t flip through a book and turn pages in the same way with a Kindle, and it doesn’t seem as cosy snuggling up in bed with a screen. Reading is no longer a sensory as well as visual experience. With a Kindle you don’t get the tactile element of books, and you don’t get the turned page corners, dusty aromas and bent spines that make your long-loved book different from the millions of other books published.
But there are some people that benefit from the Amazon Kindle:

  • New and self-published authors
    Despite the disapproval from avid readers, the Kindle actually benefits less well known and self-published authors. With its browsing facilities, the Kindle no longer disadvantages authors who do not have the marketing advantages of agents and publishers available to them.
  • Talented but overlooked authors
    In standard publishing contracts, authors generally receive royalties of around 10%. Standard eBook contracts, however, have a royalty rate of between 25-50%. This means that young talented authors won’t be forced to stop writing and promoting their work due to a simple lack of funds. eBooks may have resulted in book stores closing down, but is it worth it if it gives more writers the opportunity to write?
  • Young readers
    The Kindle invites a wider range of readers. Teenagers and young people seem more willing to read a book when it is presented to them on a screen. For those people that only pick up a book once a year, the Kindle gives them the opportunity to browse millions of books to find something that might actually inspire and interest them enough to make the trek to their local bookshop.

The concerns that we are losing the traditional book are understandable, but isn’t it more important that people are reading, not how they’re reading?

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