In the techno-mad 21st century we live in, it would seem there is a gadget to replace just about anything. Even books and magazines have been given a new lease of life from the development of e-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle. But will these sleek gadgets ever truly replace the humble paperback?
Of course one of the obvious beauties of owning a Kindle is the advantage of having all your books in one place, together. Great for saving on space, especially when you're off on holiday with an unforgiving baggage allowance. But then again, how often do you get through the 2 books you pack for your hols?
A major part of the joy of reading for me is the careful selection of your next read. Whether you browse the shelves in Waterstones or check out the charts on Amazon, purchasing and holding that brand new, clean book in your own hands is when the excitement starts to build.
The price of Kindle books is another thing attracting me to this smart little device. For example, the Number 1 book in the Kindle chart at the minute is (hardly surprising) Fifty Shades of Grey, priced at £2.69. In the shops you can expect to pay an RRP of £7.99; a fair price as far as paperbacks go, but somewhat extortionate compared to the e-reader edition.
There is a lot to be said for physically owning something you thoroughly enjoy. I feel the same about music, for example. Like many others nowadays I'm a serial music downloader; it's quick and easy, and can be on my iPod within 10 minutes. But on the rare occasion that I do decide to buy a record, it has to be something special. I think the last CD I purchased was Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto, and unlike many of the other albums that frequent my iTunes, that record doesn't have a single bad song.
Perhaps my favourite part of finishing a great book is telling people how much I've enjoyed it, and forcing my copy on them, like it or not. Nevertheless, the book is usually returned within a week or so, more thumbed and loved than it was before. After that it is either passed on to the next person or displayed proudly on one of my bookshelves; ready for me to return to it in six months, a year, and become lost in it's tatty pages once again.
Clearly the Kindle is a take-anywhere, do-anything kind of gadget, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about laying in the bath with it. And would it be the same to throw it down on the sand next to your beach towel? I think not.
Maybe the Kindle is the perfect gadget for those people to whom a book is simply a story for them to digest, but for me books will always have a much higher value.