A Kindle Catastrophe

Kindles. Seemingly a great device for any student to have. You can buy loads of books from your reading list without having to use up all your noodle allowance or break the bookshelf. Plus you can get everything by Shakespeare for free, which is really exciting when you’re an English student who’s been forking out £12.99 every time thou need’st be wearied by the tragic deaths of every Shakespearean character.

I was in my first year at university when I decided to purchase my Kindle. I dreamt of taking all my books to university in the form of one small electronic device. I dreamt of not having to run into the middle of the road to rescue my bag after my heavy library had savaged the strap. But I soon realised that Kindles are not the most student friendly devices…
 

1. Turn to page 37, the teacher said, causing me to weep uncontrollably at my desk

In tree format page turning is a simple task, involving a quick flick of the paper to any page the teacher asks for. In Kindle format however there is a vital ingredient missing from this task. Pages. Kindles don’t have pages, which means the majority of books don’t have any page numbers. When reading the book this isn’t a problem – in fact it’s quite nice not to be faced with the daunting 800-word book you have to read. However, when it comes to lecture time and you’re sat there trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing that’s where the problem hits. Countless times I’ve had to be the annoying girl clicking the ‘next page’ button 1000 times a minute in the hope of finding page 97 of Romeo and Juliet. By the time I’ve found it I’m usually surrounded by strangers listening to a lecturer I don’t recognise. Well, I would be if I ever managed to find page 97.

The lack of page numbers also makes referencing essays incredibly difficult. I’ve had to spend hours searching for the book online just so I can reference it properly. I’ve even had to resort to rebuying the book a couple of times, so I don’t have to write random numbers down like I’m playing the lottery. ‘Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thy page numbers, Romeo?’ He doesn’t know. It’s a tragedy.
 

2. That didn’t happen in chapter three

Many texts for Kindle, especially in relation to English literature, are abridged versions, meaning they have been altered slightly from the original text. Even though it’s just as possible to buy an abridged version in traditional book form, with a Kindle it can be harder to discover whether you’re reading the same text as everyone else. This leaves me sitting in lectures with my heart pounding as the lecturer begins reading through chapters. I always worry that I’m reading the wrong thing. I have the constant fear that the editor of the version I am reading has crept in wearing a black balaclava and stolen the important chapters of the original. At least with traditional books your lecturer can instantly notice that your version is the victim of robbery. With a Kindle version the crime is left unnoticed until you get into the exam and the passage printed is as familiar as a penguin in a skateboarding competition with Tony Hawk.
 

3. Highlight important quotations, the lecturer said, as I threw my Kindle at the wall

Yes, Kindles have a ‘note/highlight’ feature. Yes, this means you can come back to any quote whenever you want by clicking a button. But no, this doesn’t make things easy.

I have a Kindle without a touchscreen. This is due to price reasons and also due to the issues I’d have with accidentally pressing things and losing my page/deleting books/generally murdering things. This means when it comes to highlighting it’s not just a case of mimicking what you’d do with a pen, but a case of caressing buttons for an excessive amount of time. I don’t want to be known as the girl fondling electronic devices. And I certainly don’t want to be known as the girl who wastes ridiculous amount of time trying to mark a three word quote for an essay. Buttons on some Kindles are fiddly to work with, in a similar way to using number keypads to text message. It takes longer than necessary to do something, which seems like a whole load of effort to me. Unless you enjoy touchy-feely time with technology. In which case go ahead and highlight.
 

4. Electronic equipment is not allowed in the exam, the invigilator said, ripping my paper to shreds

It’s not a surprise that you cannot take your Kindle into an exam, what with it being an electronic device capable of providing you with all the notes you need to pass an exam without switching your brain on. When it comes down to exam day and you don’t have the text you need in paper form you’re going to be faced with a big problem. Better hope the library’s got a copy of the book left last minute. If not you better pray the famous ‘To be or not to be’ line is relevant to evidence everything.
 
 
Kindles may be great for cheap reading but just think about these issues before you buy one. If you want it for reading for pleasure then go for it, but if education is the sole reason you’re buying it then be prepared to struggle through page hunting missions and exam book escapades.

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9 Comments

  1. I’m honestly surprised that schools haven’t integrated Kindles and other electronic book readers into their curriculum. I suppose it’s to avoid plagiarizing content, but do they not realize that rarely anyone uses physical books now? That really sounds like a huge pain. 😡

  2. HI! Long time no see/hear from! The reason – I moved my blog. I know, I know!

    My boyfriend’s uncle is pestering my boyfriend to buy a kindle instead of buying the books that he does. Every time my boyfriend wants a book – he looks up the reviews on Amazon.com and in every review, it states do NOT buy the kindle version. He refuses to buy a kindle because of the same reasons you just faced. Kindles are okay if you don’t want to pick up a book and read it, but there are missing parts to the book in the kindle version, and other things that you’ve mentioned and more. It just seemed funny to me to read everything in digital print. Whatever happened to reading a good paperback or hardback book? I started to get back into books Fiction, Science, and Language. My boyfriend is the same. Though most of his books are non-fiction (Science mainly), and Math, and English. From sun up to sun down 24/7 he hits those books. I get on the computer, do my digital artwork, then and only then I hit the books. Just today a lone, I finally did a digital art work that allowed me to manipulate an effect that I’ve been wanting to learn from this one person. But anyways, I wouldn’t buy the kindle either. Every review has a purpose, and in that purpose I find not to buy the kindle even though it looks cool.

  3. I’ve always wanted a Kindle even though I’m not a reader at all! Kinda ironic on why I want one, but it seems very handy, something I’d bring along with me all the time which may or may not force me to read once in a while haha! I didn’t know that Shakespeare books are free for Kindles though, that’s awesome! I totally get where you’re coming from, I buy expensive textbooks just because I read better on paper than on the screen 🙁 It’s a trade-off!

  4. Really? Kindles don’t have page numbers? How weird. I’d always assumed they would. It sounds like a pretty big design flaw to me; for referencing or just turning to a certain section, as you’ve shown.

    ” I always worry that I’m reading the wrong thing. I have the constant fear that the editor of the version I am reading has crept in wearing a black balaclava and stolen the important chapters of the original.” — I genuinely laughed out loud, ack. Your ways with words is just brilliant, Amy. I wish I had your sense of humour.

    Take care! xx

  5. Wow, I’m glad i haven’t wasted the money on one then. though I don’t really nearly enough to justify getting one and when i do read I like a good old fashion book. LOL
    You make your post very entertaining though that must really be a drag to learn all that the hard way.

  6. I bought a kindle this time last year but I have yet to make use of it really. I bought it for the reason to entertain myself during my commute to and from work. I’ve just been lazy and been napping on the train instead.

    On top of that…I haven’t bought any books! for the kindle…I’ve been way too lazy and prefer to sleep on the train instead.

  7. Wow. Now that you have pointed the bad points of Kindle, especially to a student, it made me think twice about getting a Kindle. I guess I will just stick to my Note 3 and if I ever need to read a book, I probably have to find it on Play Store…

  8. My mum asked me if I wanted a kindle for my birthday and I said no for that exact reason; while they’re a good idea recreationally, that’s just it. I couldn’t imagine having to study a text and not have page margins to make notes in. And all of the things you brought up were true as well… here’s hoping the education system will catch up with modern technology!

  9. This is a great article for all the uni students who think they can save money by buying Kindles. I wasn’t aware that Kindles do not have page numbers. Why can’t they? You can just flip each page anyway, but I suppose less content fits in every page than on a textbook, which brings us to “turn to page 394.”

    I wanted to get a Kindle, especially since my degree doesn’t require much reading from textbooks. But what’s life without the enjoyment of turning a physical page?

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