There is a whole lot of hoohah about e-readers. Some of it is the usual rhetoric about the demise of traditional publishing, which is an emotionally appealing but fictional tale, to which I roll my eyes. People who use e-readers tend to use paper books as well, and the vast majority of readers, including myself, see the e-reader revolution as yet another big noise about a new technology that really isn’t as exciting as a particular kind of person thinks. Books are great: they’re reusable, lendable, reasonably compact, they don’t run out of batteries, and they’re nice to smell and hold. Perfection!
Or. So. I. Thought.
Last night my dad wanted to show me his kindle. I managed to put him off for a bit with this and that, but eventually I picked the thing up and opened the cover. And that’s when it happened: I looked at the screen, and it felt like a book. Not a computer, a book. But this is a book you can use to buy more books with. It’s a book that doesn’t have that annoying inner margin that makes you constantly bend it out of shape. It’s a book that has only one side, so when you lie down and read you never have that awkward position of holding it half off the pillow. The smaller ones cost around $100.
In short, I now want one.
My dad’s one is a larger-size kindle (about the size of an ipad), and it’s a little too heavy for comfort. Also, the amazingly comfortable screen *isn’t* in the newer models, so I’m going to have to examine and compare screens and sizes (and digital rights, because that’s a whole can of worms) before deciding what I specifically want. For example, the larger screen would be more comfortable to read – but less portable. As someone who loves those times when I leave the house with one of those ridiculously tiny handbags, I think the smaller one will be the one for me (and it’s cheaper) – and I suspect that once I have a tiny, incredibly portable library on me at all times, it is a technology that will change the way I live. Suddenly I’ll always have books with me, instead of making the decision on a daily basis whether I should take a book with me or not.
All in all, I’m sold. In the blink of an e-ink-reading eye.
6 thoughts on “Jump on that Bandwagon: My Kindle Epiphany”
I like my kindle. It’s easier to carry around than a book, and the batteries last for ages (turn the wireless off for pretty much everything). I buy my favourite books as physical books, and use the kindle for experimenting with new authors and reading trashy pulp.
You’re right about the newer ones – without the e-ink, it’s just a glorified tablet, and not as nice to read on. I don’t use the keyboard function much at all, so having the keyboard isn’t really that necessary. You’re better off adding things to the kindle while it’s plugged into the computer or buying them from the store on the computer.
Kindles are indelibly attached to Amazon, who aren’t the best of companies (well, they’re a company, and things stem from that), and there are a few things to watch out for in the kindle store:
– Books by the aggregator publishers. These are the ones who make books out of Wikipedia pages and scanning public domain books (without even checking for typos), then selling them for $0.99 (for processing fees). They’re usually very poor quality.
– Self-published, unedited, crap. It’s really easy to get your book into the kindle store. There’s a whole lot of stuff in there that has barely been edited, the formatting’s off, and they’re just not good stories – it’s the new version of putting your stuff on a website, but now you pay $0.99 for it. There are some out there that are really quite good. I’ve found some in the slush piles of it that are worth reading, but you have to wade through mounds of titles to get there. Not all of it’s self published, though. There are a number of e-presses out there that aren’t pushing their authors to edit, etc. This is mostly true for SF/F and romance. There’s a *lot* of bad erotica out there, and it often looks like fantasy.
– Check the length. Without having the book in your hand, you might think “wow, this sounds like a good story”, but then find it’s less than 10,000 words long, and you paid $4 for it.
– Check the price. I’ve found a few places where the kindle version’s more expensive than the paperback. I don’t know how they justify it, but it happens.
A tip: if you’re smart, and you want to read stuff from Gutenberg Press, get the text version, and see how that works by itself, or get the text version, and save a PDF of it with large type (about 16-18pt, depending on your eyes). Viewing a PDF on a kindle shows the full page on the small screen, so it’s not great, and reading it when it’s zoomed to read 12pt is awkward.
I haven’t really investigated the other readers. My kindle was a gift, so I didn’t do the research.
W: Ooh, lots of data. Thank you.
Ah, was wondering when I’d see this 😉 I’ve got a kindle touch, which is about the littlest kindle you can get, and I love it. The bigger one seemed too heavy for me. The touch is… lovely. And if it isn’t easy enough to read, you zoom in 🙂 The screen is about the size of a typical mass-market paperback, without the annoyance of having to suspend the other half of the book, as you say. As far as a reading medium… the form factor just vanishes, and lets you enjoy the book for what it is — a book. Highly recommend the kindle touch! Besides, it’s battery lasts for just about forever. I’ve got a case with a light, and it still lasts a good 16 hours at least. Are you going to read more than that in a day? Plug it in like your phone when you sleep 😉
Jolyon: Sounds excellent.
Just beware the lure of the cheap book. I spent $600 in 3 months when I first got my iPad. $3-$6 per book adds up when you buy daily……
Ann: Huh! Yes, I bet!