Wednesday, July 09, 2008

GKC on a Kindle: First Report

This is the first I've seen that someone has GKC on his Kindle. A paradoxical combination!


  1. Actually, Ross Arnold, (he of Chestertwin fame) has a Kindle and has quite a few GKC books on it. They're only a few dollars each so it's easy to load up on them in case you're stuck someplace without a three-dimensional Chesterton book.

    But, this futurist with a past still doesn't buy it . . . if I can't write in the margins of a book to make it my own, I'm not interested. One can add notes, but it's not there yet and no guarantee that I could still access those notes ten years from now. The technology is cool, but not practical for how I use books.

  2. OK, I'll give this guy second place, then.

    Perhaps Kindle works for books one has already read, and one just wants a companion book for a journey...when one wouldn't need to take notes, just just savor the words...poetry, perhaps. Lepanto or Ballad of the White Horse, for example...

  3. Well, and later this week when the new iPhones come out, along with the new software that will provide such things as bookreaders, that may good enough. I feel a definite tugging by lots of these toys or tools (as Mr GKC would have called them) but I have learned to be somewhat patient in terms of acquiring many of them. As some may have noticed at the conference, I use a MacBook Air, which is about as thin and tall as a Kindle, though twice as wide - and it can do so much more. Because I travel for a living, I want as few things with me as possible. They need to be necessary, practical and light. (William Morris said have nothing in your home that you do not to be useful or believe to be beautiful. This applies to carry on luggage too.)

    The essentials are my wireless phone, my laptop, my Claire-fontaine notebook and fountain pen and the necessary support stuff to make all of that run. (I think the high-tech, high touch theme gets applied here!) And a book. A physical, dead-tree version book. I think it would drive me mad (short drive, mind you) to be stuck on a plane without a book. Though I can read a book on my laptop in an emergency, I really like to hold a book. Having a separate bit of technology to do that seems a bother.

  4. Nancy,

    Thanks for the link. I'd expect and hope that many Kindle owners have some Chesterton loaded up. At $.99 cents to a couple of bucks, it's a steal!

    I will say, in agreement with your point in the comment, that I do have both a print and Kindle version of Orthodoxy. There certainly are works where a digital copy just wouldn't suffice, and that's one of them.


    A couple of comments:

    1) I completely understand with the desire to write notes in the margin, but I would challenge your assertion that "it's not there yet" on the Kindle. The Kindle offers both highlighting and note-taking in all texts. Yes, one does need to use a keyboard to enter notes and the highlight feature isn't perfect, but I've found a lot of use for it.

    What's more, Amazon collects all highlights and notes in a "My Clippings" file that can be exported from your Kindle as a simple text file that can be opened by any computer. Thus, contrary to your assertion, there is a guarantee that you could access those notes ten years from now, assuming that one takes the brief time to retrieve those notes from the device.

    I really like this feature because it gives me a collection of notes and highlights that are much more portable than culling through individual books to find a relevant passage or note.

    2) I believe the reason for eBook readers as a specialized technology is due to the fact that reading on a laptop or iPhone is not only unwieldy, but damaging to one's health. I can attest to this, as I had a Tablet PC for a few years and tried to use the device to read documents for my job. I came to realize over time that a back lit screen is a terrible medium for lengthy reading sessions. Thus, I would eschew iPhones, mobile devices and laptops for all but brief reading sessions. As the Kindle is not back lit, I find the experience to be quite pleasant.

    I suppose the bottom line for me is that Kindle vs. paper is not quite the either/or proposition that we might wish to make it. As I said in my review, I don't expect the Kindle to be the only medium I use for reading. There is still something about the feel of a good book in one's hand.

    Thanks again for the link. You all have a great blog here and I'm happy to be a part of the conversation, even if it is only tangentially related to GKC!

  5. Back in May TS of Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor posted about getting the Complete Works of GK Chesterton for $4.

    "If the Kindle made available only the complete works of Chesterton and Shakespeare I’m tempted to think it would be worth it"

  6. Brandon,

    Yeah, all good points on your part. I did not know about being able to download them as text files. I'm not so sure that the sort of backlighting in my laptop is going to hurt my eyes . . . any more harm than nearly 45 years of reading as I have already done.

    Still, I like to write. As in handwrite. I type a lot and am fairly fast at it. I think it uses a completely (well, not completely) different part of my brain to hand write as opposed to type. I like the ink, I like the nib, I like, no make that some sort of absurd love the fountain pen. Perhaps it connects me to certain other writers who seem to have done rather well with the instrument long before these silly machines were invented?

  7. David,

    I can't argue there. I still journal by hand and can't imagine doing it any other way. There is something about connecting directly to the page, with nothing digital in the way.

  8. I hope it's not pharisaical to suggest that the physical, sensate aspects of reading and writing the old-fashioned way -- the heft of the book, the texture of the paper, the feel of the pen in one's fingers -- have a sacramental quality that their high-tech counterparts lack.

  9. Anonymous, heavens no it's not pharisaical. Even though I own a Kindle, I have mixed emotions and feel similarly to you. But I look at it as not "either/or" but "and/both". :-)


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