I’ve been really enjoying Ali George’s series on her Kindle-reading trial on 12books12months.com but I don’t think she’s yet got to my absolute favourite use of the Kindle just now: reading the Guardian.
Now, I’ve been a newspaper reader since I was back in primary school, when the Glasgow Herald was a proper big broadsheet and I sat in front of the gas fire in the back room with it spread out on the floor. I moved from the Herald to the Guardian to the Times, and then bounced back and forward between the latter two (the Guardian is my natural political home, but the Times had Matthew Parris).
All this time, I was getting away with someone else buying my newspapers. University common rooms were followed up with a remarkably empty library at my first employer. Sadly, after a few years it was so empty that it closed down. With a lunchtime spent walking rather than reading, unread paper mounted up. I couldn’t guarantee I would get through a daily paper. I moved to Sundays, then realised how terrible they are and moved to Saturdays. Finally, I wasn’t buying a paper at all.
It was all wrong. I didn’t see the book reviews any more that enabled me to make my big list to pester the libraries with. I missed the editorials, the letters, and (especially in the Guardian) the corrections. I got a fair bit of news from Radio 4 but it just wasn’t the same.
I never got on with online newspapers. I’d open the main site, click through to Comment, read one interesting article… and then for some reason I’d read 6 pages of banal, pointless comments on it rather that moving on to the next decent article. I just never got a flow going.
A couple of months ago I saw the free trial for the Guardian and the Observer on Kindle. Well, why not, I thought. And I absolutely fell for it.
Now I can read the paper properly by flicking through it. It is blissful free of user comments. I have the option of going up to the menu to navigate by sections, but I only use it in order to skip the sport. Otherwise, I read from front to back, and I read so many more articles than I would online.
There are few downsides. The only ones I can think of
– my battery life is suffering. I only need to put on the wi-fi for a minute a day to download today’s paper but inevitably it gets left on sometimes and eats more battery.
– the pictures. I do miss the pictures. The ones that are there are pretty grainy.
One of the upsides is particularly risky: reading the newspaper in the bath. Never possible with a real newspaper, it’s a terrible temptation with the Kindle. I try to reassure myself that I only once dropped a real book in the bath (it was Little Men by Louisa May Alcott and my great-aunt had just given it to me after I had obsessively read the others in the series: Little Men was the only one missing from the library. I was really upset.) But I think it’s a given that one day my Kindle is going to meet a watery doom during the financial section.
By the way, a very typical Guardian correction today: ‘…when the actor Tom Hardy said he had been training two hours daily for his role as a cage fighter in Warrior, he meant the combat sport “muay thai” not the fruity cocktail known as “mai tai”.’
I love this paper.