I’ve owned a Kindle Prime (the old, black and white version) for more than a month now, and I luuuuurrrve it. I’ve been rolling my eyes at e-reader devotees for years, but when my Dad asked me to look at his I was converted in an instant, epiphany-style. One glance and I realised, “Oh. It’s a book!” (All the best epiphanies sound stupid when said out loud – I love him! What if we took bread and sliced it?)
The Kindle is just….books. A portable library that aims to simply let you read the stories and forget it’s there. And it succeeds almost instantly. I understood how to buy and read a book on it in about thirty seconds, and after five minutes more I was proficient in a few features. I actually use it to check my email (it can JUST access Hotmail, telling me I have email from so-and-so but not letting me open it – on my first few attempts it’d crash and at one stage I thought I’d broken it).
The page-turn buttons on each side are great, except I’ve had to teach myself not to accidentally press them whenever I pick it up or shift position. It also takes a little while to get used to a screen that’s not a touch screen (and having seen an amazing interactive children’s book on an ipad, I realise the lack of touch means missing out on a whole world of awesome), but these days I’d much, much rather own a book on my kindle than on paper.
I’ve recharged the battery only once, and was delighted that my kindle told me (in heaps of time and repeatedly) that the battery was running low. So if my book ever does run out of batteries, it’s definitely not the book’s fault.
I’m still getting used to the sense of how long a book will take to read. I know how long it takes me to read 100 pages, and I can instinctively adjust it for the size of the book and the typeface. But the Kindle is different. If you push a button, it will display “Location 456 of 987” (or whatever) but these make very little sense. I guess there are bugs to work out. Luckily, there is also a display bar at the bottom of the screen showing where you are up to in a book with a lengthening black bar and a percentage. This is brilliant (especially because it has dots for chapter divisions) but/and it changes the timing for each book. By now I’m starting to get the hang of it instinctively, but it’s definitely not as accurate when it comes to the inevitable, “Should I try to finish it before going to bed/work?” question.
Before my kindle arrived, I had a notion of happily reading in bed, not having to break a book’s spine to see words close to the margin, and not having to support the weight of the book with my arm when reading the “wrong” side. (Yes, I really am lazy enough that these things annoy me.) It’s even better: I can prop it up on its cover ($40 for lovely leather with a gorgeous look and charming tactile feel that appeals to my steampunk self) and use no hands at all. Oh, I like. (Speaking of steampunk-friendly aesthetics, I really like the black and white screensavers too.) Also, the book keeps my place for me and can bookmark other bits wherever I like. No more losing a vital scrap of torn paper and trying to figure out where I am without accidentally reading ahead.
Unlike the ipad, it’s certainly not designed to be multi-functional – but it DOES handle glare beautifully: better, in fact, than paper. And because the original Kindle is so old in tech terms, you can get one for under $100. And when your book is done, you can buy another one without getting out of bed.
I really, really love my Kindle.
(No, sadly they’re not paying me to say this.)