Jan Stafford Kellis

Paper vs. Screen

I love paper. Books, calendars, cards, maps, files, cardstock, vellum, grid paper, plain paper, colored paper. I love its smoothness and openness, its readiness to transform into something different, according to my imagination. Its ability to fold and hold a new shape. Its scent. I have a whole closet dedicated to paper and rubber stamps, waiting for my next creative urge to overtake me and compel me to dig out ribbons, glitter, glue and ink and paper, wonderful paper.

My husband knows I love paper, and he knows I love to read. Books, that is. I’m not much of a news follower (too depressing) and I only subscribe to a select number of magazines (fewer than 3!), which I peruse noncommitally each month. He also knows I love gadgets of the elctronic persuasion, so he bought me a Kindle. I’ve been salivating over the Kindle for months now–since it first came out–but was reluctant to put my money on something that would actually decrease my contact with paper books. It doesn’t smell like a book; it doesn’t rest in one hand like a book (no binding); and you can only loan titles for a specific amount of time to friends’ Kindles.

However, the Kindle has several redeeming characteristics I am obliged to illuminate:
1. The screen does resemble ink on a page (they aren’t exaggerating–it’s amazing how real it looks)
2. The Kindle retains your place–no bookmark needed. It will retain your place in all of the books or periodicals you open and begin reading.
3. The classics are free–ever wish you’d read Charles Dickens? Leo Tolstoy? Jane Austen? They’re all here, and they’re all free. Everything published before 1923 is free.
4. The reader controls the font size. That’s right–no more squinting at tiny font or wearing yourself out flipping pages with large print!
5. It keeps your books organized in categories, named by you, so you can easily find them again. Or you can leave them listed willy-nilly on the screen, in the order in which they were purchased, if that is your style.
6. It’s easier to read in low light. A light is necessary–it can’t be read under the covers or anything–but it’s slightly brighter than a real page.
7. The Kindle book store never closes and boasts most titles at the ready for downloading at a moment’s notice or a reader’s whim.
8. I almost forgot about the free samples–just like a book store, you can browse a selection for free by downloading a free sample of the first few pages of a book before deciding whether or not to purchase the whole thing.

So, if you’ve been considering a Kindle, take the risk! Don’t be afraid. It makes a great traveling companion.