It’s not you, it’s me

[I don’t have a photo of my Kindle, so here’s some photography paraphernalia]

I think it might be time to break up with my Kindle. We’ve been together for 18 months, and I think it would be fair to say I’ve given it a good go. But when I found myself buying a paperback version of a book I have on my Kindle for the FIFTH time, I knew it wasn’t working out.

Here’s the thing: I love books. I love the feel of them, the smell of them and the wonderments they contain. I knew when I invested in a Kindle that I’d still buy the occasional paper book, but there was definitely a part of me that wondered if i could really go fully digital. I love being able to immediately download samples of books I think I might want to read. There is nothing more satisfying than downloading an entire book within ten minutes of reading a glowing review on someone’s blog. It’s the best sort of instant gratification.

But with my love of books comes the desire to underline and dog-ear and flick back and forth from front to back, whenever the whim takes me. I like to race ahead and skip the uninteresting parts. I like to fill the pages with post-it notes, reminding me of the passages I need to read again. In short, I like to fully interact with my books. And on a Kindle I find I can’t do this. I’ve been patiently underlining the parts i want to read again, and trying to fathom the bookmarking system. But it’s just. not. the. same. And so, in a fit of frustration, i end up going back online to order the paper book.

Going forward I’m going to use my Kindle to download samples of the books I want to buy — that continues to be really useful — but when buying the whole book it’s now paper all the way for me. It’s still nice to have both options, and I’ll still download the occasional novel to read on a plane, but as 99% of my life is lived on terra firma, I think it’s safe to say our relationship is downgrading from long-term to booty call.

Do you have a Kindle? Do you love it? What am I doing wrong?


The blog book tour continues!

Monday 4th — Poppytalk

Tuesday 5th — Ali Edwards, Chookooloonks, Rachel Cole, Tara Mohr

Wednesday 6th — Shutter Sisters, Scoutie Girl, Roots of She, Kelly Rae Roberts

Thursday 7th — Intuitive Bridge, Lisa Sonora Beam

Friday 8th — Kind Over Matter

Friday 15th — Boho Girl, Sfgirlbybay, Brene Brown

45 responses
  1. Claire Penn

    As someone who never seemed to find the time to read it’s been great for me. It’s small enough to have with me in my handbag and I find I’m reading a lot more. Horses for courses though! You can’t beat a real book….

  2. sas

    I read in two places mainly – on the tube and in bed (sometimes on the sofa in the sunshine but when the hell was the last time London saw sun? Exactly). Anyway. One of the greatest joys of tube travel is checking out what everyone else is reading (and admittedly, sometimes judging folks on their choices. Fifty Shades readers, you know who you are). Sometimes the cover of a fellow underground commuter will prompt me to make a note of a book that i want to read.

    I am also a big fan of marginalia. this is impossible with a new fangled device.

    I am also not good with electronic notes, or appointments or birthdays. I like to doodle around in a diary or a notebook.

    Love technology, but love books more.


  3. Marie Landry

    I’m with you on the whole loving books things. The smell of them, the feel of the pages, the weight in your hand, the ability to flip through them – all of it. Books are magic. I’ve been tempted to buy a Kindle, and I might eventually, but there’s just nothing like holding a real book. I have a Kindle App on my computer, and even though I HATE reading books on the computer, it’s a necessary evil at times since I’m a book blogger and some books are only available in digital format (NetGalley, indie books, even my own book is only available as an ebook). And because I do love ‘real’ books so much, I know that even if I do get an ereader, I’ll still read/collect/covet paper books.

  4. Shandi

    You’re not doing anything wrong; it’s a matter of preference. I too prefer the feel and smell of a new book, and hearing the rustle of the pages.

    But having the Kindle means having access to a wider variety of books and magazines, especially since I’m in a small country. It’s also makes reading e-books and digital workbooks easier.

    Every once in a while, I make exceptions and buy hard copies of books that I want to savour the old fashioned way.

  5. kristen

    this has been my big debate!

    when i was desperate for new glasses and couldn’t see the type on my book, i downloaded the kindle app to my laptop and it doesn’t do much for me. i like to skim, especially a long, summer-type novel. but…i’m always thinking about traveling and carrying my stuff and then books, which become bulky, especially if i have more than one.

    i think i’m going to save for an ipad – i can read there when i travel and stick with my paper books.

  6. Jessica

    Like you, I LOVE books, and even though I own a Kindle I’ve never read a single book on it. I just can’t get over how much I love walking into the bookstore, picking out a book that I think looks good, and diving into the mystery that lies ahead. I’ve also been carrying on a very sorted affair with paper since my childhood, and I couldn’t imaging living my life without ever turning page – or crying into one with recognition or dog-earring favorite passages. There is nothing like a real live book. Nothing.


  7. Sandie Cottee

    The thought of a kindle flickers occasionally as I can see it useful when I need to travel light – but I have resisted because like you, I LOVE the feel of paper pages, being able to flick through, scan the pages, and nothing can replace that experience. So far I have resisted highlighting my pages – part of me used to see books as precious and not to be marked – but I do dog ear corners and may even grit my teeth and get out the high lighter next time I see something I want to revisit or remember.

  8. Briana Morrison

    I’ve got a Kindle and I haven’t touched it since before Morocco. I think I agree with your tactic, it’s great for travel and for the occasional novel, but most books I find myself yearning for these days are books I want to fully interact with. I need pages I can feel. I need to be able to unplug completely from the digital world and escape into something tactile.

  9. kathryn

    altho my daughter has encouraged me to buy a kindle again and again, like you i LOVE the feel of a book, highlighting and ear marking it. but mostly picking up a book i haven’t read in years and finding an old picture of my daughters as babies hidden deep in the pages!!

  10. Nicole

    this is a long standing debate I’ve been having myself. not just kindle v. book, but also album v. mp3, film v. digital…the list goes on. I think a good marriage can be found with both sides. I’m not ready to dump completely….yet.

  11. Arabella

    You aren’t doing a THING wrong. I too love real books, however I almost exclusively read on my kindle now…BUT I know exactly why. I (like everyone else in my family) have a level of true dyslexia involving visual distortions while reading.

    I’m not as bad as my sister who needs special glasses, but it makes it HARD to read. With “real” books, I see curves where the lines should be straight, words move and shake around the edges of my vision and I find myself having to re-read lines of text over and over. Can you imagine? Sucks.

    The kindle removes ALL of that – for me. The amount of text in my peripheral vision is much less (smaller screen) the grey text on parchment background is MUCH better and…well…stuff just doesn’t move. Result? I’m FLYING through books.

    If it wasn’t for these reasons? I would have stayed with real books. It sometimes makes me a little sad. But on the other hand I’m able to read so much more, so I’m not that sad after all!

    Anyway…everyone should be able to read whatever they want in whatever format works for them for whatever reason. No excuses or apologies required. It’s all about the enjoyment of the written word however you find it, and however you want to experience it….right? Isn’t that what’s important? :)

  12. Nan

    I do not have a Kindle–but I have an ipad and guess it is very much the same. I make a crazy amount of sticky notes in my books—so much they are sticking out and warping the book open. I also love everything about real books. However, I am loving the bookmark, highlight and note system in the ipad books because it makes it so easy to color code and write whole pages of thoughts. I was on vacation when I bought my ipand and read 5 books within the first few days I had it. I love that I can read at night in bed without disturbing anyone. I love everything about the ipad. Right now I am reading 3 non-fiction books and one novel simultaneously; half hard copy, half on the ipad. All that said, I must say when your “this i know” arrived I was thrilled with the size and feel in my hands and made everyone look and listen all about the publisher, skirt.

  13. Pip

    I was recently given a Kindle 2nd Gen by a friend, and for as much as I have sworn over the years that I would never, ever have one, I find that there are things about it I love. The biggest pro for me is downloading pdfs and mp3 interviews from my computer to it, so I can read/listen and not have to sit at my computer; I can actually sit outside!! And there were books already on it, so having it in my purse means that there is always something to read, and if I don’t like it, I can delete it and move on to another.

    It will, though, never, EVER replace books-in-hand for me…I would live in a bookstore if I could, and nearly did for the 10 years I worked at a used-book store. Plus, there are some books, like my newly-acquired Fire Starter Sessions that are full of post-its…how can I do that w/ an electronic device? yes, you can bookmark, but it’s just not the same.

  14. Laurie

    I love my Kindle Fire and use it constantly not only to read books but to update my client’s website, search for new recipes to try (without having to print anything) and also play a few games when I have the time.

    I love being able to carry my library with me wherever I go without breaking my back

  15. Yvonne

    I love seeing my books on table tops, bookcases and little stacks around my home.
    I love sharing a good book with a friend.
    I love walking into a room seeing a book opened to the place I stopped reading waiting for me to return.
    I love writing in my books where I bought it, the year and my name.
    I love writing a note in a book I give as a present and I LOVE getting a book as a present with a note written in it.
    I love looking at the covers of books in a bookstore.
    I do have a Kindle app on my phone and it has come in handy but I just can’t get myself to buy a Kindle. Curling up with a Kindle doesn’t do for me what curling up with a book does. But if a Kindle can make it easier for someone to read, I’m all for it. Nice to have the choice.

  16. Bev

    I too love books. I cannot imagine having that love affair with a kindle. I love to touch the pages, underline fav. parts. I can look at books on the shelf and know which one is which by the spines.

  17. Kate Case

    I’m the exact opposite – I’ve bought kindle versions of books that I already own – it’s so much easier to read in bed and take everywhere with me. I do love books but have so many of them that I have storage issues, so being able to buy a book that doesn’t add to the piles of them around the house is great!

  18. Dana Barbieri

    I am with you on this Susannah. My lil sis just gave me her Kindle. Love that you can download a sample and buy a book and have it in an instant but it will never replace a paper book!

  19. Nadine-Adele

    Books are better than the Kindle!
    Some things are better left the “old fashioned” way!

  20. Heather

    For me I love love love “real” books as well.. However there are some I am happy to have on kindle. Fiction books are one of them, samples of books.. overall it really depends on the book. Like art books or visual ones I want the ‘real” thing. There are also by the way ways you can “rent” or borrow kindle books some for free and some paid things. So you can see if the whole book is one you will ref again.

  21. Melissa Jaine

    I sat up in bed last night adoringly flipping through “Instant Love” – what’s that? oh, it’s a book I just bought ;) (arrived the day after “This I Know”!). Just can’t even imagine reading that digitally. That would seem so … cold. Yuck.

  22. robyn devine

    i do have a kindle, but i also don’t think you’re doing anything “wrong”. for me, the portability is king. i don’t dog-ear or bookmark my books unless they’re for school, so i don’t miss being able to do that.

    however, you clearly love your books in a very tactile way … i’d say you’ve found your groove between books and the kindle, and it sounds like it’ll work out perfectly for you!

  23. Aimee LaFave

    Love, love, love my Kindle. But then again, I commute to/from work three hours every day, five days a week. I can have a library with me. It’s lighter than most physical books. It’s all about the commute. I still buy physical books (I bought yours; wouldn’t dream of buying them on Kindle), but plan on always having an ebook.

  24. Aimee LaFave

    P.S. I ride the train to/from work, not drive, so everyone’s safe.

  25. Nicola

    I do love my Kindle. I like being able to have one small gadget with lots of books all in one place. I use it mostly for reading in bed. I still like my books though as well – some I would only buy in physical form. Like yours or any book with lots of photographs.

    I like being able to facebook/tweet quotes from books. Plus I have over 300 PDFs on my Kindle – eBooks, worksheets, documents I’ve PDF’d. That is really useful. So much easier to access than searching through my pen drive and reading on my computer.

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I think books are such tangible objects that it’s hard to shift entirely from owning shelves full of books!

  26. Barbara Harrison

    I just love my Kobo reader. Small enough to fit in the front pocket of my camera bag & great for subway reading. When I finish one book (or just get bored) I can switch to another. Still love he real thing though. I’m extremely tactile and find myself fondly touching the books I loved reading when I am browsing in a non virtual bookstore.

  27. Phoe

    I love my Kindle AND I love books. I love the samples (have found SO many books to read that way) and the free books. But I also still go to the library, often to get books I was planning to read on Kindle. The instant gratification thing is great when you’re really wanting to read a series as well.

  28. Megan Swicegood

    I have a similar love for the feel of a book in my hand. I’m also such an avid reader that if I purchased every book I read then I’d be up to my eyeballs in book debt. I prefer using the library to get books I know I won’t be reading more than once (or maybe twice).

    I use my kindle/iPad for reading books when I travel or if the library doesn’t have the book I want to read. Also, as a book reviewer, often publishers/authors prefer to send ebooks. For me, an eReaders has a very specific purpose – making travel lighter and that’s about it.

    I do like downloading chapters as well – that’s been a huge thing for since getting a Kindle.

  29. Vicki

    I have to agree with you, I love books, the physical aspect of books – smell touch and just seeing them lined up on my shelves. I love all books and am partial to used library books with the mylar covers – you can buy used books through Amazon for cheap and that way I feel like I am recycling and doing my part to stay green :)
    I do have a Nook and its great for travel because you can “carry” a ton of books with you but I still fall back, time and time again, to the real thing.

    PS: You’re not doing anything wrong, there’s magic in books!!

  30. Stephanie

    Oh. My. Goodness. I am the exact same way with my nook. I have copies in digital, and then in print, and I wonder why? I prefer the physicality of the print, the ability to mark it up, go back and flip through to find something that struck me, or the ability to lend it more than once to someone I think would enjoy the book.

    Digital doesn’t give me that.

    So, I’ve transitioned to downloading free material, and then using it as a supplement to print, say when I’m traveling a long way and don’t want to bring four or five print books with me.

    I don’t think you’re doing *anything* wrong. I think there are great uses for digital, and definitely times for print. And part of it is all in the use.

  31. Stacy

    I love my Kindle. I do agree, however, that sometimes paper books have a place. There are some I wouldn’t dream of buying on a Kindle. And there are some where paper would just be silly. That line is different for everyone….

  32. Liberty Montano

    I love my Kindle for what it is – a ebook reader and upgrade/replacement for a defunct Itouch. I love that I can download books from my library from home, how I can ‘carry’ hundreds of books at once, and can also check my email.

    Having said all that, nothing will ever replace paper books. =D

  33. Rebekah

    For me, it depends on the kind of book. Art and photography books, any with images, I have to have the physical copy. (I have a Kindle Touch, not a Kindle Fire.) Also, if it’s a book I know I’ll want to keep long-term, I want the physical book as it’s likely to last longer. (Look at how many physical books are still in good condition and sold in rare/used book shops after decades. Technology has, historically, faded fairly fast.) For novels, in which I don’t often do a lot of marking and highlighting, it’s really good, especially when it comes to those I am reasonably sure I won’t want to read again (like ‘The Hunger Games,’ of which one reading is good for satisfying curiosity, but it’s too disturbing to want to read again). For the Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 edition of ‘Wild’, it was great, because you get to jump to Oprah’s notes when you see underlined text (those are her highlights). (I’m a nerd, and love to see what other people mark in books.) I also love the immediacy of the Kindle.

    But, as you said, there’s still not substitute for me for a physical book. I think it’s because they’re a more complete and unique sensory experience. They have a scent, different typefaces, a texture to the paper and cover, and some have deckle edges and some don’t.

  34. Carol

    My sister offered to buy me a Kindle for my Christmas gift, but I politely declined. I’m a book lover for exactly the same reasons you stated Susannah :-)

  35. Claire

    I love my kindle, I have about a 30 minute journey to work and a kindle is easier to read on the bus, my parents live about 4hours away so great to read on the train. I love that I can buy a new book instead of waiting for a paper back or trying to juggle a hardback.
    Don’t get me wrong I am obsessed by books and my kindle just seems a natural extention of that I still have 3 large bookcases filled with all sorts of book treasures, it just means if I buy a book it’s because it is special.

  36. Shosh

    I felt the exact same way as you, except I barely used my Kindle at all for the first 10 months I had it. I love holding a book in my hands, but more than that, the instant click ended up being EXPENSIVE. But then – a friend of mine told me I could take out books FROM THE LIBRARY AND READ THEM ON MY KINDLE – and literally, it has changed my life (and my pocketbook). I also live in a country where English isn’t the language spoken, and the accessibility of English (library) books has made me feel like one of the major things I was missing from “home” – books in English – has gone away. Total lifechanger, though do still prefer the feel of a book in my hands.

  37. Danielle

    What’s a Kindle? ;) Actually, I have heard the name and I am assuming it’s an e-reader of some sort. therefore, my answer is…paper books all the way baby!

  38. natalea

    I say at least you tried! I wouldn’t even get as far as considering a Kindle! I am too in love with books, for the reasons you mentioned, but also the sheer delight of stacks all over my house…it’s what makes my home my favorite place to be! I couldn’t imagine not holding a real book, and turning the page, and stacking it back in the pile! So you’re not getting any Kindle advice from me! I understand why they are great for many reasons, I guess I’m just too much of an old-fashioned book lover to convert. I’d sell everything else in my house first if I ever ran out of space….Happy weekend Suzanne! xo

  39. valeri blossom

    i’ve had two nooks (first gen and nook color) and i go back and forth on whether or not i want a kindle fire or nook tablet, simply for use as a tablet. i waffle because technically my iphone serves that exact function and really, i just want an ipad.

    i also love the idea of the nook simple touch but honestly, i don’t and won’t do a lot of e-reading.

    it’s hard on the eyes and i love books for every single reason you mentioned. i also feel a tinge of distopian warning when i think of how easily the written word, so very sacred, can be changed – history re-written – in an instant. on a whim.

    i love books and while i’ve pared down my physical collection in efforts to de-clutter and keep near only what is essential i find myself wanting the actual, physical books (your new one is next on my wishlist!) more often than not and just because :)

  40. Pat

    I have a Kindle on my iPad and I love it but I have noticed that my reading has changed. For fiction books that I probably will not read again, the best place to read/store is the Kindle. However, I read a great deal of non-fiction (biographies, memoirs, history) and for those times a hard- copy is best. So, over time, my shelves will take on the look of an intellectual and my Kindle will “hide” my guilty pleasures!!

  41. kathy

    Oh, you are reminding me of one of my favorite TED talks, by Chip Kidd, a book-cover designer! His whole talk is truly a celebration of the BOOK. Enjoy!

  42. Kateri

    Susannah, I get it. I tried, too. And I was still buying REAL books all along. I thought it would be great to have such an easily portable library, but I was still lugging around my satchel of books, too. In my world, a real dog-eared coffee stained, broken spined in my hands book cannot be replaced. And yes, I still use my Nook to read samples. It’s fabulous for that.

  43. Iara

    I love books. I do not have a kindle and I know it is nothing to me. I love paper. Two weeks ago a new and very large bookshelf made to fit the only free wall in the living room arrived. It fits all of my books, the kid’s books, the scrapbooks. I love it. I love to look to my books and to pull one out of the bookshelf, read few pages or look for something.

  44. Iara

    BTW what I wanted to write is that your book arrived yesterday! it is finally available at and I am so happy I finally have it. it was so nice to read the post about how you wrote it. it is so nice and well written, the words just flow. I am loving every page of it. thank you for writing it (and I am already on the queue for the next :)

  45. india flint

    i may have book-buying disease…but i find even reading a 10 page pdf on my laptop tedious. books can be taken anywhere, don’t need recharging, can be underlined, dog-eared, stuffed into a pocket.

    and if they turn out to be awful you can always leave em on a railway bench to find another unsuspecting victim

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