Kindle is killing the magic of reading

The first thing I noticed about the Kindle was that, when you first open up a new book, it invariably starts you off at the first chapter of the book. It skips the cover, the copyright information, acknowledgements, quotations, dedications, maps, genealogy tables, author’s notes, etc, sometimes even prologues, conveniently allowing you to get started reading the book NOW.

Yes, there are people who prefer to bypass what they consider pointless drivel and get started on the action. There are people who do not want to read anything outside the main story, do not read the back of cereal boxes, do not RTFM.

Sure, I get that.


He didn't RTFM.


But what about the rest of us who appreciate the time taken by actual people who write the back of cereal boxes and want to know what they have to say? Why is there no option to default to starting a book from the cover? What of an artist’s effort in designing a cover?

I am quite offended by this feature. How can Amazon presuppose that I do not want to see all of the above-mentioned pages? A cursory Google search reveals that many readers think as I do and lament the lack of choice in the matter of a book’s starting point. Like me, many readers would always make the few screen taps (or keypresses) to move to the cover of the book and start there.

Although there is a relatively quick workaround, it is an annoyance because it happens every book. It is much the same kind of annoyance you might get with having to close a hundred ads before you can play a mobile game these days.


Stupid ads!


Reading the pages between the cover and the first chapter is not merely to satisfy a curiosity or to gather information. For me, it is a sacred ritual.

It goes back to the days of my childhood when I would get a new book and stare at the cover in eager anticipation of the joy that I would unearth within. I would let the anticipation build up as I turn each page over, ever so carefully, reading almost every word (but skimming the copyright information since they’re always about the same and not quite important).

Every page turned and read before the story starts only serves to heighten the anticipation so that, by the time you get to the first chapter, the build-up has burst out in a delightful shower, bathing you in a profound joy that makes the beginning of a read a most special occasion.

That is the delicious ritual of starting a new book. Admittedly, the effect is keener with physical books but one has to move with the times and adapt. Digital books are the future because my poor old bookshelf has long ago burst at the seams, the resulting explosion causing precious books to all but vaporise. (No, seriously, I have lost untold numbers of precious books because I’ve had to leave them around everywhere due to overpopulation in designated book receptacles.)


6.9 million books!


But rituals! Rituals can still be preserved without renouncing technology. Let us open the book from the cover so that the devastation to the romance of reading, wrought by digital evolution, is not total annihilation. Do this one little thing to keep technology from dousing the last remaining ember left in the magic of reading a book.

I hope Amazon will wake up their idea and, while at it, see if they can’t do anything about the ridiculous number of typos found in ebooks. While proof-reading remains the domain of individual publishers, Kindle is Amazon’s domain so I’m sure they can at least do something about the books sold in their format.

Yes, I am a demanding customer because I do 90% of my shopping on Amazon these days, for everything, not just books. So give me quality and my money’s worth! Give me back the magic!

7 thoughts on “Kindle is killing the magic of reading

  1. Avatar

    I read from cover to cover literally. While Kindle starts you off at page 1 of chapter 1, you can always scroll backwards to the front page.

    Kindle is a life saver for me as it is almost impossible to acquire english book in my part of the world.

  2. Avatar

    You can give this online bookstore a try:
    Just found out about it from a friend.

    It ships for free worldwide, and has lower prices than Kino in Singapore. Not sure if it’s cheaper than the bookstores at where you’re at though.

    Anyway. It has a referral promotion for 10% off (for both the referrer and the referred) till 15 Mar 13. Hope you don’t mind that I referred you via your gmail address! The electronic discount coupon should be making its way to your inbox soon.

  3. Avatar

    I love books too. I realized 2 months after getting the Kindle that nothing can replace physical books (the touch! the smell!), so I just buy books that I’m too embarrassed to be seen reading on the Kindle lol. What books would you recommend to your readers? :D

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    The very reason I don’t like many e-books is because e-reader developers think they know you better than you do. When it comes to books, I choose the hard copy over the e-book. It may cost more, but I like the feel of it in my hands and the anticipation of the story before I open it.

    I share your sediment towards books. When I was young, once a month my mom would take me and my brother to the book store and buy us a book. There is no feeling quite like holding a real book in your hands and staring at the cover wondering what adventures were going to unfold between the pages (ALL OF THE PAGES).

    Until Amazon and Apple come up with a way to package that feeling in their devices, I will always prefer a hard copy book.

    I’m not putting down the devices. I couldn’t function without my iPad.

  5. Avatar

    @Jaywalk: Yeah, like I said, it’s not a huge problem but it’s just annoying! :P Not saying that Kindle isn’t useful. I love my Kindle. Just annoyed at the page starting point, lol.

    @Kim: Thanks for the referral! But like I mentioned, space is a problem for me right now so I can’t buy physical books anymore! :P

    @Bel: Yeah I know! I love the smell of new books! :P And nothing beats flipping real pages, although I do quite like the flipping page animation in iPad. Kindle’s one is just boring.

    Hmm… where do I start on book recommendations! I think book reading is quite personal since everyone has different tastes in literature. For me, my favourite author is Dean Koontz. I also like Stephen King although some of his books can be a bit boring or have stupid endings.

    I also like Philippa Gregory’s Tudor series. Got me interested in historial fiction. And recently, I am very interested in post apocalyptic novels after reading Domain by James Herbert. (It’s the 3rd book in a horror trilogy but you can read it on its own.) It’s really good. And I also highly recommend John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids. These authors are quite old but so good. :)

    Ok enough for now I think? :P

    @Pepper: Ah, it’s nice you share the same kind of love of books since childhood. It’s quite a magical feeling when you think back on it! Actually, one thing I feel that ebooks beat physical books is reading in bed at night, which I love to do. With real books, I have to read with a lamp, and when I’m lying down, the light sometimes doesn’t shine adequately on the book depending on which direction I’m facing. With ebooks, you don’t have to worry about light, can read any direction any corner anywhere! :P

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