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.