How Do I Kindle This Relationship?

Dead as a dodo Kindle.

Last year I forced myself to buy a Kindle. I repeat, forced myself. Of all the purchases that I have ever made in my life, I’ve got to admit that this was probably the one that I was least excited about. (I’ve been known to show more enthusiasm when forking out for a new set of brake pads for the car) When the package from Amazon slithered through the letterbox and plopped down on the hall floor my heart actually sank. I knew that inside that brown corrugated casing was an ugly, hard bit of grey plastic that was potentially going to be replacing books as my future reading material.

Now you may wonder why, if I am so stuck up, and horrible about Kindle, that I bothered to buy one in the first place, and you are right to wonder, but the truth is my friends that it was a purchase borne out of necessity, practicality if you like, and Fear. Yes, fear that when I moved to Indonesia the following week, I might not be able to find enough books to read. This is quite a terrifying thought for anyone who loves reading as much as I do and it seemed to me from what I’d read and heard about it that buying a Kindle might solve the problem however resistent to the idea that I was.

The fact was that out of the 30 or so boxes that we shipped out to Jakarta, 20 of them contained books, but it didn’t seem to register with me when I typed in my credit card details and address on the Amazon site. I just wanted the reassurance that I could get hold of books, any books, that I might want to read during my sojourn in Indonesia.

Our apartment is piled high with books.

I unpacked the Kindle and took a good long stare at it. The Kindle unblinkingly stared back at me, which then reminded me that I had to plug the damn thing in to get the battery charged. In the time that it took for the frigid piece of plastic to become fully powered, I could have read half of War and Peace but since I had now parted with my hard earned cash, I tried not to think such unkind thoughts about it and started to play around with it instead.

I downloaded two books which I had wanted Irishman to read for sometime and was horrified then to discover that they were almost as expensive as if I had bought them in a bookshop. Already this machine, plus the purchase of two ‘books’ had cost me as much as, well, a first edition of some highly prized novel perhaps. ‘Oh a fool and his money are soon parted’ I thought, as later that evening I tucked the Kindle under my arm and wearily climbed the stairs to the marital bedchamber. Once in bed, Irishman started reading his book, and I turned on my Kindle.

With only one bedside light for the both of us, and on his side of course, reading in bed meant that I had to curl up very snugly next to him to be able to get enough light to read by. At least with my new machine I thought that there would be some sort of back lighting which would enable me at last to read more easily but no, it seemed that  there was not. In fact it was proving even more difficult to read because at least with the printed page of a book there is some illumination given off from the whiteness of the paper. My disenchantment was obvious as I gave up and slung the wretched thing down on the bedside rug, turned over and went to sleep.

The following day I wrote about my Kindle problem on Facebook and how I was struggling to fall in love with it. I got lots of responses from friends all keen to share their passion for their Kindles with me. Things like ‘I don’t know how I ever lived without mine’ Or ‘I love the fact that I can read The Guardian in bed every morning without even having to put a foot out of the door to go and buy the paper’ ..or words to that effect. You see this is my problem. I actually love paper and print and the smell of books and the fact that they are beautiful to look at. My friend does have a point about not having to go out in the rain to get her paper, but I like my morning chats with Mr Constantinos when I go to buy mine from the corner shop. That’s because print, papers and books are as much about social interaction as anything else, I wouldn’t have those chats and banter if I got it sent straight to my Kindle. I love nothing more than sharing my books with my friends, or giving someone a copy of a book that I have read and loved, you can’t do that with a Kindle either. The thrill of finding a book that you’ve wanted and buying it for pennies off a second hand stall or from a charity shop and then taking it back to the charity shop afterwards for someone else to enjoy. I like the feeling of turning a page, of running my finger slowly along the lines whilst I inhale the print, digest the words. Of sticking a tube ticket or chocolate bar wrapper in between the pages to remind myself of where I left off. I like seeing what books other people are reading especially on public transport. You can spend an entire tube or bus journey guessing what sort of person they might be just by the type of book that they are reading. It’s fun, you should try it! You can’t do that if they are reading a Kindle. It’s hopeless, I’ve tried.

Once we arrived in Jakarta the Kindle sat gathering dust on the coffee table for 2 long months before I reluctantly decided to give it a second chance and take it with me on a month long trip that we were making to the Uk and the States. At the very least I reckoned that it might come in handy on one of the many long haul flights that we would be making. Not so. For the first two weeks away, the Kindle never left the suitcase. Instead I made straight for the nearest bookshop, Waterstones in Piccadilly and ravaged the shelves of anything that took my fancy. By the time we left London for the States, my suitcases were groaning from the weight of books that I had bought and been given for Christmas.

Irishman hates to see anything go to waste and so unbeknownst to me, he had put the Kindle in my hand bag for our flight over the pond. Whilst rooting around in it’s contents mid-flight for some nicorette, I found Kindle lurking in the depths of my bag. Since it was there and since I was a bit ‘movied out’ with the in-flight entertainment, I thought that I might read instead. I switched it on and yes, the battery had run out. The battery was a dead as a dodo so I could not read. If, on the other hand I had had a book in my bag I could have read to my hearts content but yet again, this Kindle was doing nothing whatsoever to ingratiate itself towards me.

By the time we had flown several times round the States, then back to the Uk and finally the last leg home to Jakarta, the Kindle had not so much as seen the light of day and remained untouched and unloved in the bowels of my bag. During the course of our travels, my handbag and it’s contents had had to endure being pushed and shoved through countless security scanners and airport x-ray machines so that by the time we eventually got back to Indonesia and I emptied it’s contents out onto the floor to find our house keys, not only were the ancient emergency tampons with their split wrappers and greying fuzzy ends totally irradiated, but I was intrigued, and just a little excited to see that the Kindle had taken on a new look of it’s own. The cover, if that’s what it’s called, had become sort of scrambled. Text and images had woven themselves into each other making a rather interesting collage effect. Later I did a bit of research on the internet and discovered that I was not the only person whose Kindle had this happen to it – it seems that those airport scanners are the culprits.

This morning I’ve been thinking about our imminent trip back to the Uk for Irishmans Doctoral presentation in two weeks time and so I have started to gather together bits and pieces that we will need. Rummaging around in a cupboard I found Kindle still scrambled. Lord only knows what came over me, but I decided to charge it up and see if after 5 months it was feeling any better. It’s been charging now for over 2 hours and some of the scrambling has disappeared only to be replaced by a different sort of scrambling. To say that I am ambiguous as to whether it will ever work again is an understatement.

Do you have a Kindle? And if so, do you love it? And just in case Kindle does start to work again (which at this moment is looking highly unlikely) can anyone offer me any relationship counselling on how to learn to live happily with it.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’ve read Heidegger (that’s Irishmans) but I am reading Moby Dick.

26 thoughts on “How Do I Kindle This Relationship?

  1. Oh my goodness, I LOVE my kindle, I take it everywhere now. It is perfect for flights. Currently I have approx 1,200 books on my kindle, you most certainly cannot carry that around on a holiday. (and approx 4,000 or 5,000 thousand waiting on my computer, I know, I know, more optimistic than realistic) It fits in my bag, if you are stuck in traffic, kindle, if someone else is stuck in traffic to meet you, kindle, early for an appointment, kindle.

    Yes, I loved paper and books, but kindle is much cheaper and more practical. Books are hard to come by in Jakarta, but on the internet one can find everything one wants, if you just know where and how to look! I am know back into the habit of reading every evening in bed.

    Firstly, buy a kindle cover with inbuilt light. (reduces battery time to about one week, but hey, that’s a long time for a battery, my phone gets recharged nightly). That screen is perfect for hours of reading during blazing sun or the dead of night, a backlight screen begins to hurt your eyes…. this is more like a book)

    Secondly, browse the gutenburg project, learn how to use torrents and forget about every using Amazon. Download the books onto your computer and then just transfer them over via the cable. The extension you need for kindle is .mobi

    Try it again, and happy reading.

    *send me an email and I will be more than happy to send you dozens or hundreds of books to get you started properly*


    1. Thanks so much Liam, I shall email you and I really appreciate your kindness and help.

      As I was writing this post I did wonder if I am the only person in the world that feels this way – I have heard enough, and read enough about them to know that people in general adore them for all the reasons that you yourself have written above.

      I am never one to give up easily, hence trying to resuscitate it earlier but it’s still not working so I fear it really has had it. Thank God that I didn’t have 100’s of 1000’s of books downloaded onto it, just the 2 that I bought last year. I’ll check out the site that you mentioned, sounds interesting.

      Thanks again, Lottie


      1. here’s the link
        Project Gutenberg has 36000 free ebooks for Kindle, Android, iPad, iPhone.

        All of these books are free because the copyright on them has expired, some people also find books that are still in copyright, but that’s up to them.


  2. yeah I’m not sure about it either. I actually went to a lot of trouble to get mine, because they don’t send them to China (you’re supposed to be able to bypass the firewall with it but I can’t get that to work), But I still prefer books. I thought it would be handy for travelling but I never bother to use it. They break a lot I think (i know someone who’s got through 3 already) and even mine has a lower-than-normal battery life already.
    I read somewhere that they’re blaming the kindle for the growth of erotic fiction, because people download the stuff to read on the kindle and don’t feel embarassed reading it on the train. So that’s the genre for all us aspiring writers to aim for now, apparently.


    1. Funnily enough I read that about the erotic aspect too. People are so coy! I used to work in a bookshop and we had quite a racy ‘Arts’ section, I used to love to watch the men coming in and try to hide round the back of the shop whilst they thumbed through the pages pretending that they were looking at something else. Always made me smile.

      I’m not going to give up on the kindle idea because I can see that they are immensely practical, tho’ I do fear that with all the bad karma that I’ve sent it over the past few months, my kindle has now given up on me – yet another reason to not to love it!


    1. Damn Lottie now I’m going to have to buy one! Though I love holding a book in my hands, and I keep my hard back ones forever! I’m following you on twitter!


      1. Natalie, the truth is that Liam (the first comment left) has now got me wishing that the damn thing hadn’t died. They do sound pretty incredible….on the other hand…..oooh I don’t know! I’ll have one last stab at a love affair with a kindle, who knows I may really start to enjoy using it next time. At least I’ll know to keep the wretched thing fully charged and to get a light for it.
        I’ll go and tweet you right now!! x


  3. Well….husband now loves his Kindle (after resisting two years ago). I read both “real” books (love them) and on my iPad (which is backlit). Best thing about these e-readers, for my old battered eyes, is being able to enlarge the font. A blessing.


    1. Martha, I think that this was the thing that I found most difficult about the Kindle (please note use of past tense- it has really died now) the fact that I found it very difficult to read. I will have another go because I hate to be a luddite and I can see that there are lots of plus’s if I try hard enough to find them!
      I think you are right, a combo of real books and Kindle – that should satisfy all my needs!


  4. To hell with the kindle. I love my iPad 2 which has multiple functions and has the kindle app where I can read all the books my little heart can stand—on a well-lit screen! 🙂


  5. Thanks for writing that Lottie, I think I’m the only person who doesn’t own a Kindle. I totally agree – “I actually love paper and print and the smell of books and the fact that they are beautiful to look at” … and I love bookshops! I don’t think these gadgets will ever replace books.


  6. I have been discussing on and off about getting either a Kindle, iPad, Galaxy Note, or any other gizmo to give me access to the many e-books I have. I hate not having anything to read anywhere.

    Like yourself, I have not found a good source of English books that close to where I live, when I am in Jakarta. I have found a second-hand book store with a very limited collection. though in the market close to home.

    i think I would rather prefer books, for longer reads. I love the smell of freshly pressed pages, flipping them and scanning them when a bookmark goes missing. I could highlight passages, write on the books, accidentally bookmarking pages with coffee and food stains and nostalgia.

    I tend to lose some of my good books, as they go around shared and often never return. I don’t usually mind, as long as they’re read. I, like you, visually eavesdrop on a person’s personality and private conversations with his book on the train or bus here. It tells me something about the person reading it. Sometimes, we strike a conversation over it.

    The hard task of accounting what to leave behind in Singapore is a hard choice for a hoarder of books. The books serve as a reminder of the inspiration behind the purchase, the significant events around then.

    It reminds me of Marshall McLuhan, the social theorist, who once famously said, the medium is the message.


    1. I love that Marshall McLuhan quote – I agree. At the end of the day I just don’t think that you can beat books. Having said that, I’m not going to give up on the Kindle, I’m sure that it has it’s place somewhere in the scheme of things, it’s just finding it that’s all! Thanks for your comment, I enjoyed reading about your take on books and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone! Sorry for my late response to all your comments, my internet has been down and playing up for days so difficult so frustrating when I want to respond.


  7. I love books. I love the smell, the feel and everything about them. I was always vehemently against the idea of a digital reader as I thought it was not only cold but truly about the least cool thing in the world.

    That being said I am also a technology whore evidenced by the fact that I bought a 1st generation iPod and have bought about 15 of them since that moment. So what did I do roughly 2 years ago? i went out and bought an iPad the day it came out and since then I have gone through 2 of them.

    What was my epiphany to switch over? I came to realize two crucial issues. The first being that walking around a book store no longer gave me the joy I had experienced the previous 30+ years of my life. I could no longer walk in any bookstore and find a great new author. The only way I could find a great new author was to ping around online (most of the time in Amazon) and plunge myself deeper into the rabbit hole. When I then went to a book store to find a new author I had found…they were never there. The second is that I love to buy books even on a whim. I never truly regret buying a book like I have with music or movies. Even if it is a bad book I still get something out of it. With a digital reader I can blow $50.00 and walk away with 5-7 books and that alone makes it somewhat more special.

    I might have lost the will to fight this blasphemous gadget but in the end I am able to read more, whenever and wherever I am and that alone makes this deal with the devil satisfying.


    1. Great comment BM, thankyou. I love how you describe yourself plunging deeper into the rabbit hole…..
      Well, my Kindle is now well and truly dead. It’s short, unloved life, bought to an end ironically by equipment designed to find lethal weapons and bombs. I’ve been away in London for just over 2 weeks and only bought one book, Hunter S Thompson ‘The Gonzo Papers Anthology’ which should keep me going for a bit. After that I am going to have to bite the bullet and start using the ipad to read on. Having read all of the positive things that have been said on this post, including yours, I now feel rather more inspired to stop being so prissy and just get on with it – I have a sneaky feeling that I will end up being as smitten as the rest of you. I’m not in the least adverse to technology hence my passion for my iphone and my mac, so I now think I’m ready for the challenge – onwards and upwards, to eBooks and beyond….God help me!


  8. Lottie, I’ve been browsing around your blog thinking that this one will be dead in the water when you rename it bu maybe all this will stay. I surely hope so for there are all the past posts that I want to read.

    Now as to the Kindle. Lots of books are free or cheap. I know this from people that have told me. My hair dresser has hers at work and is using it evry spare minute that is available. My daughter uses one and likes it very much. She has had the same one for several years. Lisa is a huge reader of mysteries and reads at least a tome in a matter of days. Doesn’t collect books though. She utilizes the nearby library. She told me that she has read every mystery that was in the library and now must buy some books for the Kindle.


    1. Have no fear, Yvonne. All of these posts shall remain when we move, all I am going to do is change the title of the blog to something more Spanish!
      I wish that I could get into e-readers. as you know now, my kindle is long since passed away and periodically I do read the odd book on Pete’s ipad but I still really love books and everything about them. It’s purely tactile and has nothing to do with practicality, because even I can see that kindles and ipads and e-readers are the way forward. I think the thing that I love most about books aside from their smell, how they look and feel etc is the fact that you can share them or give them away to friends after you’ve finished reading them. There is something so nice about lending a friend a book that you have enjoyed – it feels good. You can’t do that with downloaded books which is sad. I get most of my books when I’m in London from charity bookshops – they always have a great selection and you don’t have to pay much for them. Likewise, I’ve I’m having a sort out and want to get rid of some paperbacks, I’ll always take some boxes of them down to my nearest charity store. Thanks for your comment, I’m so thrilled that you are enjoying reading my past posts! xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s