The written word …. how do you prefer yours?

A recent spate of book reviews, a discussion on Twitter and a quick check on my current collection has prompted me to write a post about the written word.

Travel books, guidebooks and outdoor specialist books form a sizeable but not the biggest chunk of my current collection. I have a fairly wide range of hobbies and interests reflected in the large number of books I own. At last count I have approximately 1000 books collected over 35 years within these 4 walls. There just isnt room in the house for them all to be on display so half reside in the loft (makes mental note to check how evenly they are stored up there).

Now I am, by my own admission above, a true lover of the written word…on paper…erm in books… But, the great Kindle cometh and it bedazzles all with its cunningly small package, wi-fi ability and lithiumness (ok so I made the last word up). I see that Kindle, reading pads, tablets and other hand-held electronic gadgetry seem to be catching the imagination of Joe (and Joanne) Bloggs. So what is it about such things that persuades people to give up wood pulp as a medium for reading the latest novel?

Joking aside, are we in so deep into a technological world that things arent real, progressive or exciting unless they have an “App” or are digital in nature? I understand that science pushes back the boundaries of what is small, or clever or possible but does it have to and does it hit the mark with the written word?

For me the answer is no and it really is down to a personal choice. Ever since I can remember, the ability to touch, feel, thumb through and read a real book is one of life’s indescribable pleasures. I always feel that a collection of books is a reflection of the nature of the person and I love seeing what other people read and collect. They are there, like wallpaper or pictures or objets d’art. A full bookcase is like an interactive mural, every piece, ever book tells a part of the story. Stories within stories, a 3 dimensional map of your literary journey. 

Now to be fair I “get” the electronic versions, I really do. They are clever and light and can store so many books within the single unit. But, they are just not for me….but maybe they work for you?

So, the written word….how do you prefer yours?


About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
This entry was posted in General chit chat. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The written word …. how do you prefer yours?

  1. hillplodder says:

    I guess it depends on whether you look on a book as the physical item or as a package of ideas. Personally, I like both real book and Kindle. But for different things – Kindle for everyday reading, especially on a long trip. Basically anything you read in a linear fashion. Real book for other things – guide books, picture books and anything you dip in and out of. Both have their place as far as I’m concerned. But having said that my dream house would have a proper old fashioned library with leather wing chairs and wood panelling, although I’d sit in it to read my Kindle too!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Here I am extolling the virtues of the written word on paper and writing via a laptop into the ether…oh the irony! 🙂
      Perhaps liking both and recognising this is a good balance
      An old fashioned reading room is a grand idea although books in the living room cant be beaten

  2. Could not agree more. I like the idea of Kindle and might even get one for utilitarian purposes (long trip where weight does matter) but feeling a book in your hands is part of the pleasure of reading one…

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Agreed Yuri….again I understand the sentiment. Horses for courses and for a long trip, a Kindle is perhaps a good idea. Just still cant beat a real book. I can still remember 20 years ago, sailing in the Aegean in the brilliant sunshine reading an old faded copy of The Odyssey. Magical.

  3. llendorin says:

    I love my kindle. For backpacking, it’s great – lighter and easier to carry than a book (though admittedly, you do have to be that little bit more protective of it), and the ability to download a book on a whim is just brilliant.

    However… it’s not a replacement for books. More a supplement.

    I’ll use the Kindle for the majority of my novels, autobiographical books, etc… field guides and reference books will always be in paper format, though. There are some things a Kindle can’t do – you can’t flick through it really quickly to find the specific thing you’re looking for… which is why the reference material remains in paper form for me.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Another goodpoint re the treating Kindle as a supplement to, but not necessarily a replacement to, the book. And you are right re the flicking through pages. But is more than finding something quickly, there is a texture to thumbing through paper. Another little pleasure

  4. I too love books, but we’ve both just got a Kindle each for a very specific reason. We have a small motorhome where space is at a premium and when going on a long trip it’s impossible to pack much in the way of reading material. The Kindle was the obvious way to be able to take an unlimited number of novels away with you and take up very little space. Reference books are different though I think – they need to be handled and appreciated!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Thats a specific requirement for which the kindle is well suited I must admit. I reckon about half of my books are reference based and 95% of those are history references so there is a lot of thumbing going on! 🙂
      Some of my best holidays have been sitting on a beach reading a book…..pure bliss

  5. Santa brought both Louise and I Kindles for Christmas.

    I think Hillplodder sums it up for me…oh and I like the idea of the wood panelled library with the leather wing chairs but I’d have to add a crackling log fire and a wee side table with a crystal decanter (and matching glass) filled with some horribly expensive single malt.

  6. Robin says:

    I’ve read two and a half books on Kindle now. In general I like it, but it’s no good for pictures and diagrams and there’s no sense of where you are in the book. It’s also not conducive to flipping back and forwards. Consulting a glossary is also a pain. Overall it’s not as satisfying as a physical book. However, ironically it’s probably better for a long book as long books are awkward to handle and it’s great for tarvel/backpacking. One last thing to bear in mind is that technically you don’t own the books on kindle, they are licenced to you and when you pop your mortal coil, they cannot be inherited. The same is true for MP3s purchased through iTunes.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      In my opinion there is nothing more satisfying than placing and removing your bookmark in a really good book (or at a push, turn the corner of the page down). A real book is a physically satisfying article for sure 🙂
      I have to be honest though and say that I never ever thought of iTunes or iBooks in quite the way you have described! 😀

  7. alan.sloman says:

    What I do know is that when you move house, never ever pack your books in big boxes if you value your back…

    Unpacked books in your new home suddenly make the place “yours”. You don’t get that with a Kindley thing.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      yes, been there before Alan! Thats why I have checked the loft to make sure boxes are evenly spaced about up there! Books are heavy but tangible 🙂

      And couldnt agree more. Books, to a degree, share/show some of your personality and so add that immediate personal stamp to a place

      • There is a rack on my (overburdened) bookshelf with books I bought over 20 years ago, some date even back to my school days (philosophy, latin and the likes…not that I still read them eh…). One my most precious books is a cheap edition of the first novel I read from my favourite writer, in Italian translation. I’d be mightily upset if I lost it because it has so many memories associated to it (a perfect time capsule of my teenage years…).

        • backpackbrewer says:


          I have shares in wood pulp and chipboard companies for all the books and book shelves I buy! Sometimes the older singular books are the most evocative in terms of love of the written word. I have a 30 year old copy of Lord of The Rings which really is showing its age but somehow still manages to still intact despite constant reading

  8. While I love the feel & smell of a ‘real’ book, I’ve switched to using a Kindle about a year ago because it had quite a few specific advantages I could not ignore.
    English books are not always that easy to come by where I live in Belgium, it might just be me but when I set out to buy a book I want it pretty much straight away and if I have to order it online I usually had to wait at least a few days (5-10 days usually) for it to be delivered. With the Kindle I can just buy a book and read it straight away, assuming it is available as an e-book (not always the case unfortunately).
    I love to read at night and when I found out that Kindles have an optional cover with an integrated light I was pretty much sold on it. I don’t have to wear a headlight in my tent or turn on my bedside lamp while I’m reading anymore which I find very convenient. 🙂
    But the main reason for me was space, I’ve moved into a small apartment last year and instead of having to find a place for all my books and worry about all the space future books might use…I can just keep them onto my e-reader or my computer. My Kindle stores about a 1000 books and it’s very easy to keep an organized library on your computer and upload books to your e-reader of choice. Being able to take as many books with you wherever you go is pretty cool!

    That said, I still got all the books I ever bought as I don’t want to sell them, for now they’re being kept in boxes in the basement, but I plan on creating some space for them in the near future.

    Another thing I like about the Kindle (and e-readers in general) is the ‘ease of access’ features. You can make the text smaller or larger to what you prefer and you can also let it read the text out loud, the text-to-speech feature is far from perfect but in some situations it might be very welcome.

    Anyway, while I don’t think e-readers will completely replace books and they’re not perfect, so far I’ve been very happy with my Kindle.

    ps. with ‘books’ I mean novels. Obviously greyscale e-ink isn’t great for reading magazines or any sort of book with ‘pictures’ in them.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      The smell of a book is a very very evocative sensation indeed, the older the better. I understand the impatience with getting a book straight away 🙂 If I am in a book shop and see a book I want I normally buy it straight away even though I know I can probably get it cheaper online.

      I hadnt thought about the tent and lighting aspect of the kindle so thats not a bad little extra reason to take it camping.

      Re the storage space, yes the Kindle wins hands down! But I love the feel of a house filled with visible books (when possible). I only have half my books on show and the rest in the attic. Still perhaps there is room for real books and a Kindle in the house and out and about….

  9. Now here’s a thing – if I’m buying a book I have to smell it first. If it doesn’t smell right (and some don’t!), I don’t buy it…

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