Friday, August 27, 2010

Kindle conundrum

The funny thing about the Kindle is that I have no idea how long books are.

I've just finished Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Over breakfasts, bedtimes and while waiting for meetings to start, I finished it in just a few weeks. It felt like a pretty long book, or at least it covered a lot of information, from Wife 1: Katherine of Aragon to Wife 6: Katherine Parr, so I'm kind of proud that I finished it. Okay I am a lot proud! (This is one of the first non-business, non-fiction books I've ever read.)

The thing is, I can't be sure how valid my feelings are. The Kindle doesn't show page numbers, only page "locations" - I imagine this is because pagination changes depending on selected text size. So I have no idea how long the book actually is, and as a result, how accomplished I should feel about finishing it.

Book Completion pride
I never realized this until this Kindle problem came about but I think I feel different levels of pride or accomplishment depending on the type and length of book I've read. So to speak...

So I feel like I've completed something quite voluminous... though maybe it falls more squarely under Non-Fiction. But I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment. But it really frustrates me that the Kindle does not give me the satisfaction of knowing that I've read something long and hardy. As a result I wonder if the pride I feel for finishing this book could actually be misplaced.

To get to the bottom of this, I went back to Amazon to find a photo of the actual book, where I was disappointed to find only an image of the book cover. Bah.

Level of pride affirmed.
But upon browsing the Customer Images I found a photo of Weir's Henry VIII set, including (on the far right) The Six Wives.

Am relieved to see that the book looks positively serious, and as I assumed, quite "voluminous". Also the old-school binding makes it look completely bona fide!

Vicious cycle
So I have some ill feelings toward my Kindle since it doesn't allow me to feel as certain a level of accomplishment and satisfaction upon completing a long, real book.

This seems to be a digital shortcoming - when things are made of bits, bytes, ones and zeroes, how do we know what, or how much, we are really holding in our hands?

Then again I also wonder, given ownership of the physical volume, if I ever would have finished the book. Would I have brought it with me to the breakfast table, held it up every night before sleeping, and lugged it around in my bag in case of lull times at work? Probably not. Point, Kindle.

I also tend to get intimidated by said voluminous works. I think I get pressured by books that look long since it seems like it will take awhile to read them. In fact, while I just bought the Kindle edition of Jon Steel's Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning and have barely started into reading it, a fellow planner showed me her real-life edition of the same book - thick and hardy! I now feel a little like I won't be able to finish it. Who knows.

Oh digital world, when will you stop changing the rules of the game on us.

1 comment

kf1000 said...

Bey! That was my problem with the Kindle too but it turns out that amazon also posts book pages in the book profile so you read 656 pages when you finished the book :)

I'm assuming you read all the notes and index OF COURSE.

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