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Saturday, 21 July 2012

What the Kindle is missing

I recently started reading The Bodhisattva's Brain by Owen Flanagan, published by the MIT Press. This isn't about the contents of the book, interesting though they look. Instead it's about the feel of a really nice book.

Everything about this book is appealing: the simplicity of the front cover design, the superb quality of the typography and printing, the texture of the high quality paper, and above all, the delicious smell of a new book.

I have a Kindle, and I read a lot on it, and I'm happy with it in its way. I'm sure that e-readers are the way the book industry is going. And yet...the experience of reading a book on a Kindle (I cannot speak for Nooks or other devices, but I doubt they're very different) lacks the magic of holding and smelling a really well produced, physical, paper book.

No doubt it will get better. In the meantime, someone has tried to close the gap by bottling the scent of a book. At nearly £70 a bottle I won't be rushing out to buy it any time soon, but I'm pleased to find that people are working on the problem already. Perhaps Kindles will one day come with this smell impregnated in their casing.

And perhaps one day the resolution of its screen will match the skills of the MIT Press and its printers.