Marginalia – why I can’t let go of printed books

This is what it comes down to: you can’t write on a kindle. Yes, there’s some kind of fiddly highlights and notemaking thing, but you can’t make different sorts of underlining, or use a highlighter, or just mark whole paragraphs with a squiggle and an exclamation mark.

You can’t get an author to sign a kindle either. Not unless you want to try reading through the incomprehensible scrawls of black marker pen they leave on the screen.

Nor is it so easy to flick back and forth, as some novels seem to require, and certainly as some non-fiction books need.

I’ve come to adore my kindle, and the way it syncs effortlessly with the app on my phone. If I’m suddenly stuck somewhere with fifteen minutes to myself I can fire it up and carry on reading. There are hundreds of classic books available for free, and it’s much easier to keep a Dickens or a Tolstoy in your pocket electronically. But the supposed switch over to reading entirely digitally, which I think my husband was hoping for, having moved house with my book collection one too many times, well that simply hasn’t happened. I pick and choose which books I’ll buy digitally, and which I need as a hard copy.

As a technology, printed books have

You know what I would do? I would pay slightly more for a hard copy that comes with a digital copy bundled in. You know – like they do with films these days. You get a code to download it so you don’t have to bother ripping it into your computer. That’s what I want. The best of both worlds.

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