I don’t like Kindle (or Apple’s iBooks).

I like books.  I love books, in fact.  The real ones with pages that you hold and read and put on shelves.  They’re reassuring, they’re easy to reference and they’re a constant reminder of the wisdom and entertainment that’s within your grasp on a daily basis.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t treat them with any kind of reverence.  Recently a fellow author and I swapped books (I gave Cathrine Jansson-Boyd Consumer.ology, she gave me Consumer Psychology).  When I warned her that I was a committed book defacer – I will write notes all over a book – she was quick to recommend Post-it notes as an alternative: sorry Cathrine, I’ve written all over your book too (if it’s any consolation, the more I write the better the book). 

I know that you can make notes on Kindle and iBook books.  But it breaks the flow.  It means typing and clicking and dabbing.  For now that just doesn’t come naturally to me (or else the interface on an iPhone – how I access eBooks – needs improving). 

But that still wouldn’t solve the fact that there are no books around the place if everything is ‘e’.


On Wednesday night I found myself in WHSmith’s at Kings Cross station, with an interminable wait for what I knew would be a painfully slow train.  I was all set to buy Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the SAS and the Secret War in Iraq when my deep-seated resentment of psychologically influencing pricing strategies cut in: no, I didn’t want to buy a second book half price (I would have had to carry a bag then, and I was travelling light), I just wanted one book at a sensible price.

For the first time I thought ‘Kindle’. I’d downloaded the app for my iPhone when I’d downloaded a free trial of a book.  I clicked on the App and then wandered round the station concourse like a clumsy prospector, looking for a 3G signal.

Thanks to all my payment details being linked to the account the title was no sooner located than it was purchased (and at a fraction of the price WHSmith wanted).  Within moments the book was downloaded and I was reading all about the Secret War in Iraq.

None of that opportunistic use of Kindle matters.  It’s irrelevant.

But what happened today isn’t.

I was reading a twitter post by @kimwanten and she recommended a book.  It sounded very interesting.  So I went to Amazon to read more about it.  It turned out to be a new title.

Although I had gone to the “real book” page at Amazon, I now found myself drawn towards the Kindle link.  I occupy a somewhat bizarre world between my conscious and unconscious mind: I spend so much time studying the way the unconscious mind works that I occasionally catch my own out and am able to observe it in action.

I suspect it was thinking “fast” and “easy” – I know it likes that.  I don’t think it was thinking “cheap” anymore, although I can’t be certain “cheaper” wasn’t in the mix as a confirmed eBook heuristic (rule of thumb).  I say that because, typing this a matter of minutes later, I have absolutely no clue what I paid for the book: I know the proper book was £9.00, but the Kindle could have been £1000.00 for all I know (I hope it wasn’t!).

I also know that I immediately downloaded the book to my iPhone, even though I will not begin to read it for some time.  So having it quickly was almost certainly part of the appeal, although irrationally so, given that I don’t intend to look at it yet!

So, I suspect, that I will now be buying a lot more eBooks.  Ironically, having briefly looked at both Amazon and Apple’s e-readers, iBooks seems much better.  But I’ve now bought twice from Amazon because it’s so easy to do so and because Amazon is where my unconscious mind takes me for books.  I may need to work on that.

Kindle eBooks – seems I’m destined to love/hate it.

Philip Graves


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