Monday, November 23, 2009

Technologies

My most recent read, Little Women was the first book I read on my fancy new Kindle. This magical book machine is my first plunge into reading books any way other than the old-fashioned way. I thought a review of the medium was called for.

Reading on Kindle - I have a second generation Kindle, and it is easy to read with it. The text is easy to see, the pages are easy to navigate and on the rare occasion that I am unfamiliar with a word it has a built in dictionary. I didn't miss the tactile feel of a book or dog-earing the pages, but that may have been the novelty. One interesting dynamic was missing my usual feeling of superiority when reading in public. Nothing makes me feel like a scholar like holding an 800-page tome next to someone flipping through People. Not that I don't read People, I just like to feel smart when I'm reading a big book.

Buying Literature with Kindle - I got Little Women for free. There is a rather large library of books that have been formatted for Kindle by volunteers and which are available for free. I've seen quite a few available for $0.99 as well. These don't have the fancy read-aloud feature and the format is a little squidgy sometimes, but for no money its nothing that can't be overcome. I've hesitated to spend more than $5 on Kindle books. I'm still getting over the whole concept of not having the book on the shelf. The actual technology is great though, I can browse on my Kindle (with free wireless access built in) and buy the book, which downloads in about a minute. Instant gratification feels good. Anything I buy automatically charges to the payment option I have set up on my Amazon account. Very convenient.

Kindle vs. Book - Other than my perceived drop in status, Kindle has some obvious advantages. I went on a trip and carried 4 books into the airport which took up less space than one paperback. I can add notes without feeling like I'm destroying literature. Kindle fits in my purse, but if I'm not in the mood for my current read, I can browse magazines or blogs while I'm in line at the bank. Options, baby. On the other hand, if I buy a great book on Kindle, I can't really lend it to a friend. The whole migration of literature between me and my co-author will fall apart.

Miscellany - I haven't found a way to buy a Kindle book for someone else on Amazon. What if I want to gift a book to someone? Or more likely, how do I put a book on my Christmas wishlist in Kindle format? Shopping for books is a little weird too - I'm used to judging books by their covers. No colors, no weight, just the blurb. It is hard to tell how long books are.

Final verdict - I think I'm going to grow to cherish my Kindle, but we're still getting to know one another. If I can get over the vanity of carrying around large books and buying shiny covers, it should all work out fine.

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