Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Why the Kindle is a Really Bad Kisser

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 18•12

Kindle and I had our first date this morning. What a letdown! It was the kind of date where you feel compelled to kiss and tell.

First of all, I love real books, so I knew that Kindle was going to be inferior. I knew I would miss holding my book with a cradled bend in its pages, perfectly spooned in my hands. I knew it would be difficult to give up paper, with its glorious smells and textures. I knew that Kindle would be lacking in intimacy. But I was willing to temporarily sacrifice all that I knew for $4.99. You see, my daughter received a Kindle for Christmas, and ever since then I’ve been tempted with the cheap deals constantly posted on the internet. Free downloads in exchange for reviews on my blog, $1.99 offers, $2.99…all in the click of a button, I can immediately be delivered what I desire. But I was fighting off the temptation, that is, until yesterday’s deal. That’s right, all it took was a carrot waved before my eyes on Tim Challies’ A La Carte of a book I had been meaning to read. I could download it for just $4.99. I took the bait.

So this morning I asked my daughter to show me how to use the thing, and I took it with me to Bible Study. I go straight to church on Tuesday mornings from dropping my kids off at school. I have about an hour and fifteen minutes before class to pray, go over my lesson again, make copies, and gather my thoughts. But sometimes I still have an extra ten minutes or so, and that is where Kindle came in. With all my preconceived notions and snotty biases for real books, I was still shocked by how insipid my date was. He looks all clever in his black tuxedo, but he’s like hiring an escort rather than a real date. You quickly realize this when you have to turn him on. Immediately, the battery power is displayed right next to the time. Time? I don’t want to look at the stinken’ time when I’m reading! Battery power? Now I have to be nervous about whether you’re going to last through my book? He only puts out what you charge him for.

I am a visual person. I knew this would be an obstacle for me, but I didn’t realize my own dependencies. Oh bookie, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. So I click on my book, and wonder if there is an image of the cover anywhere on this thing. Can’t find it. How can I read a book without looking at her face first? But, I continue only to realize that every page looks the same. There are no flaws or flecks on the pages, and, horror of horrors, no way to tell if I’m reading the front or the back of a page. I didn’t realize how important this was to me, but I was disgusted. All the pages are one-sided! There is no left and right. Just right! I never need to turn my head. What a bunch of malarkey.

How am I supposed to remember where I read something to go back to without a visual snap shot of whether I read it on the left side or right side? I guess I have to remember page numbers. Oh wait, I see no page numbers. Seriously? Instead, it tells me that I am 8% of the way through the book. Kindle said that for three pages! Wait a cotton picking minute, do I have to do math to figure out how many pages are in this book? This is all wrong. And forget about flipping through the pages if you want to go back to something. Everything looks the same. I felt like I was lost in dreary Flobbertown. I know what you’re thinking—just highlight. Well that all sounds good, but every time I try to highlight, the page would turn instead. I felt like my grandma trying to use my cell phone.

But it gets worse. When I read, and I’m halfway through the right page, I like to “begin the turn.” I run my finger down the back edge of the page until it is ready to turn. But Kindle is all mechanical—reading without foreplay. It is a completely unromantic experience. It stinks to go see a really good movie with a really bad date. And this date has an ulterior motive. As my daughter was showing me how to work the thing, I noticed two different advertisements on the screen. Advertisements? Really? (Insert Ralphie facial expression from A Christmas Story–a crummy commercial!) I don’t know when they show themselves, because I didn’t get any in my ten minutes. I’m assuming that’s because the WiFi wasn’t on. But I know they’re in there somewhere. Eww.

What’s really driving me nuts is that I have been so distracted by Kindle that I just wrote an entire article on a theology blog that has nothing to do with theology. But, given my propensity to allegorize everything, I do have a theological takeaway point to offer. While I will continue to read my digital book, and although my daughter rolled her eyes at me when I gave her my list of complaints (and corrected my folly on the issues like page numbers), I still realized something new about my love affair with reading: You gotta give me more than words. Kindle offers the same words that a real date…I mean book…does, but there’s just no relationship between us. That brings me to God’s living Word. His Word actually has the power to create what it speaks! It is a “discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” How amazing is that? “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to that eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” The header for Hebrews 4:11-13 in my Bible is titled, The Word Discovers Our Condition. Whoa!

Theology is so much more than acquiring knowledge about God. It is a love affair. Let me ask you this, on the day of your wedding were you satisfied with all the knowledge you had about your spouse? Of course not. It was just beginning. But you continue to learn throughout a relationship of love. The amazing love of God not only teaches us more about himself in his Word, but it also teaches us about our own selves while it continually points us to our Redeemer Jesus Christ. All the while, God’s Word is transforming the hearts of his bride. We are being made into the image of our groom. Now that’s a powerful kiss!

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20 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Aimee, when I got to this line I had to chuckle: “He only puts out what you charge him for.” So much of life seems based on getting only as much as we put into something, and sometimes not even that much is given in return.

    Then you concluded: “God’s Word is transforming the hearts of his bride.” That made me thinkk that what we get from God is what he puts into us. It has nothing to do with what we have to offer or choose to give. Jesus is the one transforming us, and that’s awesome.

    Tim

  2. Trevor says:

    I got a Kindle a few years ago, but I never use it anymore. Sure it’s light and I can carry a hundred books around with me at all times, but for some reason I just don’t read on it. Never really could figure out why that was.

    Your paragraph that starts, “I am a visual person” explains my problem exactly! Reading a book is a whole experience: the cover art, the pages, the spacing, the font, the interior layout, the underlines that I make, the page corners that I crease…all of it adds to the experience of reading. And all of it is lost on the Kindle.

    Oh well, I kind of like seeing the little 10×16 Amazon box with a brand new book in it sitting at my doorstep when I get home anyway.

    • Aimee says:

      Me too. I confess to much envy when I get all excited to see the UPS man coming my way, only to pull up in my neighbor’s driveway, dagnabit.

  3. “All the pages are one-sided!” I LOL’ed as Monk (TV) would say, in my own silent way. Funniest post I’ve read in a long time.

    This reminds me of the instructions for Professor Horner’s Bible reading plan. He says not only to use the same translation as you read through the Bible more than once–some of it many times–but the same Bible, so you can remember where things are on a page, like you allude to–front, back, left, right, top, bottom. You get to know your Bible very well.

    Two things about the Kindle I would like:
    1. Choosing your own font–I hate serif fonts
    2. Being able to search the text of the book or your notes

    I have an ancient Nokia tablet w/ a 5″ screen I use for those cheap or free books. (I convert them if necessary.) I’ll be using it more as I read more Puritan books. But I too like paper and don’t think I’ll switch Bible reading from paper to electronic for a long time.
    Jeff

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Jeff, I have found two cool things about Kindle that I’m willing to admit to: 1) When you turn it off, it looks like a newly erased Etch-A-Sketch. You can still see the words faded up against the screen. And, 2) I can fully grasp a hot cup of coffee, and just lay Kindle in my lap.

      • I like those aesthetic things too.

        Since I have to lie down because of my back, I have to hold what I’m reading. Not easy for 900 page books, which aren’t usually in Kindle format. That may cause me to get a Nook if I get a real reader because it’s supposed to have a curved, textured back that feels good in the hand.
        Jeff

  4. Matt says:

    Hope I’m a better kisser than the Kindle. Love the time comments. Just think what God gives us and how we don’t live up to Him.

  5. Deanna Martin says:

    I would agree mostly, but I do like the Kindle for some purposes. I think you saw the advertisements because you downloaded some sort of “deal”. I’ve never had an advertisement on my Kindle and it’s connected to Wi-fi all the time.
    When you have Prime you can borrow books on your Kindle. I like that especially if it’s a book you really don’t want to keep on your shelf but you have to read it. Also, I use it to listen to audio-books. Not the text-to-speech, but from Audible.
    I would also point out that those who have sight issues (I have an aunt with macular degeneration) can make the font size really large so that they can read it. You can’t do that with a regular Dicken’s novel.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      The bigger font is a nice benefit. I was wondering while reading if the Kindle had too small of print for aging eyes.

  6. Brooke says:

    Cute article Seester. I have to agree wit ya. AND you tied it is so well….somehow!

  7. tom says:

    I was always the guy who said I would never buy digitized music. That I needed to have and hold the CD and the liner notes….until I made my first purchase on Itunes. Now I LOVE digitized music (and I am a musician by trade!) I can find more cool music for less than ever before.

    I like the idea of the Kindle (I like the idea of trying to spare some trees since no one wants to make paper out of hemp!), and I like the idea of the convenience of the Kindle as with the Ipod and digitized music.

    I was gearing up to buy a Kindle and then was given an Ipad and I am not looking back! I may never buy a paper book again. Again, I used to be the guy who wanted to hold the book etc. etc. but there is something about the Ipad that actually lets me disappear even further in the book than with a real paper book. The Kindle does not accomplish this disappearing act as well in my opinion.

    And the Ipad allows me to work with a book a lot easier (notes etc. etc.). As I am right now doing with a book on poetry.

    But I don’t see the death of real books anytime soon! I am surprised at how quickly I have adapted to digitized reading and music. Much quicker than ever thought I would. Interesting…

    • You mean you don’t have a portable LP player with Shure E5s? It’s only a little bigger than a 17″ laptop.

      I didn’t think I’d ever have a use for an MP3 player but now I use my Cowon all the time. I even read some books on the 2″ screen. They were PDFs for review and I converted them to text. No Kindle yet but I can read the books on another ancient device. I like books better also.
      Jeff

  8. Keefe says:

    I liked the article. The kindle is great for a fast research,but for leisure reading a book is so much better. You are right it can save you money and trees.
    Keefe

  9. [...] a hardcopy as well. In spite of my general appreciation of ebooks, there are dissenting voices. Here is a piece called Why the Kindle is a Really Bad Kisser. The author is clearly a hardcopy woman. [...]

  10. Margie Stemple says:

    Excellent article! I enjoyed reading it and agree. I know at some point I’ll try reading a book on the kindle, but I can’t imagine anything replacing my love for curling up in a real comfortable chair, sipping my coffee with a good paper book to read along side. It’s somehow just more personalable. Don’t tell anyone, but when I was a little girl, I used to love to ride my bicycle to the library, pick out books to read…but 1st, I’d have to smell them all! Hee hee! Sometimes now when I pick up a book I may get a familiar smell and it brings back memories from my childhood. A kindle can’t replace that!

What do you think?