Why I’ll Never Love My Kindle

Yesterday, as I was leaving school and bracing myself for a walk through the Tauntaun-killing cold we’re enduring here in Indiana, a fellow student stepped into the elevator holding a fairly thick paperback novel.

I like to think all book lovers have a book radar (patent pending). If someone walks into a room holding one or I pass by another person reading, I try to figure out what they have their nose stuck in as inconspicuously as possible.  Since we were in an elevator, I didn’t have to be sneaky about it.

“So what book are you reading?”

The guy enthusiastically flipped the book over for me to see its cover, which proclaimed in bright-red font, that it was “L.A. Confidential” by James Ellroy. I had no idea, though I should safely assume by now, that the 1997 movie starring Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe was based on a book.

As we walked out of the building, our conversation breezed through our favorite parts of the movie, which we had both just watched recently.

Mine was the filing room brawl between Crowe and Guy Pearce. His was the three-pronged interrogation scene. We both loved the climactic shootout between good and bad cops.

He informed me “L.A. Confidential” was actually part of a series of true-crime novels. In hindsight, I’m baffled that the other books in the series weren’t made into movies when the adaptation of the 1990 book was nominated for Best Picture in 1998 (and lost to the less deserving “Titanic”).

But just as soon as our chat had commenced, we parted ways.

This is one of the primary reasons – one I only realized recently – that I’ll never fully convert to reading my books in the electronic format.

Conversation starters.

Whenever I get the chance (when it’s not below 20-degrees every day) I carry around the book I’m consuming, wherever I’m going. You never know who is going to start a conversation with you because they notice you hefting a book in your hands.

Which is more enthralling? Discussing the books that haphazardly occupy the bookshelf at the foot of your bed or sliding a small electronic square across a table?

When was the last time your eye’s attention was drawn to someone walking down the sidewalk clutching an e-reader to their chest?

Before I give the wrong impression, I own a Kindle.

I got it from Amazon for $9. How could I pass that up? Remember, I said I would never “fully” convert to e-readers.

But I can live with myself reading a single free e-book every once in awhile thanks to the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Infomercial over.

There’s also the sense of accomplishment.

It will never feel as good to power off my Kindle and say “I can’t believe I read that entire 20 MB file” as it will to snap a book closed and proclaim to no one in particular, “Yeah, I just finished reading Bob Woodward’s 444 page book about the U.S. Supreme Court from 1969 – 1975. It wasn’t as engaging as ‘The Final Days’ but I learned a lot.”

Most importantly, I couldn’t live without the smell.

My absolute favorite smell to breath in is that of an old, weathered book.

You know the smell. It’s the best part about walking into a used book store or your campus library.

It’s the whiff of thousands of books that have passed through countless hands. Tomes that have been enjoyed, loathed, analyzed, devoured and passed down by people I’ll never meet. It’s the smell of a book that sat on a shelf for a decade waiting for you to stumble upon it.

The book someone will notice you engrossed in one table over at the cafe you visit once or twice a month.

The book that starts the conversation.


When has a simple conversation over a book led you to unexpected places? Share in the comments!

About Daniel McFadin

NASCAR writer for NBCSports.com. Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
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10 Responses to Why I’ll Never Love My Kindle

  1. Mario says:

    Not that I disagree with your article, but I own Kindle too (since recently) and while it will never be able to replace the feel of a real paperback, it is more practical to be able to carry a whole library in one small device. I just can’t have so many books on my shelf, you know. That’s why Kindle sells well and it does offer decent reading experience.

    Anyway, thanks for the ‘romantic’ ode to real books, it was heartening to see that people still prefer the old way. I am too, but where I live, it’s really cheaper to get an e- book than to buy it as paperback edition.

    Good luck with your further reads,


    • Thanks Mario! I completely understand that it’s a more convenient way for people to have access to books. That’s why I didn’t want to write an article saying “e-readers are evil” or “e-readers are the end of books as we know it,” because it wouldn’t be true.


  2. This is such a refreshing view on the value of paper books. I never really thought of how e-readers take a conversation starter away(maybe because Danes don’t talk to strangers if they can avoid it), but it makes a lot of sense.
    I don’t notice a person reading a digital book, but it always cheer me up if I see someone read a paper book I love 🙂


  3. thewriteedge says:

    My parents bought me a Kindle last year for my birthday after many years of protesting on my part for the very reasons you mention: I love my books. Holding them, smelling them, and sharing them. I do like the Kindle; it offers a great deal of convenience as Mario says, and I’ve found it to be an asset to my writing/editing/book reviewing career. But there’s something about a print book (especially a hardback one) that can’t be duplicated.

    I’m a little shy when it comes to striking up a conversation with others when I see them reading or carrying a book but I think I’ll try to make more of an effort to reach out to them. I’d love to share with them that I’m a bibliophile too. :> Thanks for the nudge!


    • I understand being shy and consider myself a “recovering introvert.” The hardest part is saying “Hi.” I think one of the reasons I like carrying books around is that it gives my hands something to do when I’m nervous talking to someone new.


      • thewriteedge says:

        “Recovering introvert” — I love it! I think I’ll have to steal that and use it.

        One thing I’ve found that helps when I’m talking to someone new is to keep asking them questions about themselves. Since we both have a journalism background, I think you’d be able to relate to the fact that it’s often easier asking questions than answering them. And eventually I find myself feeling more comfortable talking about myself a little bit.


      • That does come in handy, and I do find it easier to ask than answer. But it’s surprising how often no one asks questions in return.


  4. thewriteedge says:

    True, often people won’t ask questions in return. But then I make a conscientious effort to remember something they said in answer to one of my questions and then offer them my personal experience with it. Then I keep asking questions. Eventually, I find, most people feel like they’ve been “pestered” enough by me and start asking a few. Then I ask a few, then them, then me…and all of a sudden we’re having a conversation!


  5. Pingback: Miscellaneous | Annotary

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