I used to be the girl who started shaking her head sadly and tutting whenever somebody mentioned a Kindle.
‘I love actual books!’ I would cry, feeling as though Kindles would wipe out entire libraries, bookshops and quite possibly real book lovers like me, all in one careless digital swipe.
But the digital swipe didn’t seem so bad when I was losing myself for hours on end in ‘look inside’ excerpts of novels on Amazon, and storing books I wanted to read in full on my wish list. Reading online, I realised slowly, wasn’t that bad. So I stopped shaking my head when people mentioned Kindles, though I did secretly wonder: didn’t they miss holding real books?
Then came Harper Impulse. I read about the new digital-first imprint from HarperCollins when it was launched last year. My Kindlerphobia vanished, leaving in its warm little spot a spark of excitement at what the future of books might hold. Meeting Charlotte Ledger, content editor at Harper Impulse, confirmed it: eBooks weren’t the enemies. They were the new, exciting friends.
Fast forward to Christmas 2013. Santa had clearly been observing me carefully, and had noted throughout the year a distinct lack of head-shaking and tutting when Kindles were mentioned. He had obviously decided that here was a girl who loved books but who, above all, loved reading and loved her new connections with Harper Impulse.
‘I’ll give it a try,’ I said on Christmas morning, hearing the old Hannah scream in terror at what might be lost.
Ah, but nothing was lost. I’m reading more than ever. I’m able to curl up with the lights off and read free samples from authors I’ve never heard of, then buy the whole book within seconds. I’m able to find books I’ve wanted to read for years for 99p. I have the on-screen equivalent of a by-the-bed pile of books that are waiting to be read next.
And the best bit? I have an actual, real pile of by-the-bed books that are waiting to be read too.
I don’t think I realised when everyone started talking about Kindles, that none of them ever said I had to choose between a Kindle and a printed book. So now I have both.
I will always love holding a book: the smell, the charm, the whole experience of those pages that tell stories themselves: wrinkled if read in the bath, pristine if still in The Pile, greyed if second hand. I’ll always love second hand bookshops and I’ll always buy, and hope for, books as gifts.
But now, I’ll always love my Kindle too. Is that really so bad?
‘Yes,’ some girl says, shaking her head sadly and tutting.
Give her Daily Deals, a few free samples and a hot pink cover, and she won’t tut for long.