Christmas is over and the New Year is but days away. Being older, there weren’t a lot of presents under my tree. It is just the nature of things. But with Christmas comes a little extra, so I decided to get myself a gift. I got a Kindle.
Years ago I use to read a lot. I was in a couple of Book of the Month clubs, and would buy and read on schedule. I wouldn’t say I was a voracious reader, but I did read a fair amount. It isn’t that I do not read these days. I read and write every day, almost all day long. But these days it is more Internet reading. I have been thinking of late that I need to get back into the habit of reading books.
A friend of mine got a Nook for Christmas. I had been thinking about some sort of e-reader, and their present made me decide to put off the putting off. Perhaps the purchase of an e-reader would push me back into regular book reading, if for no other reason that wanting to get my money’s worth out of the device. I must say. I am glad I did.
I shopped around and compared devices. I decided on the Kindle over the Nook because I read that the Kindle had a slightly larger book selection. I don’t know if that is true, but it was the only real distinction I could find between the two.
I tend to be a slow adopter. It isn’t that I do not want to jump onto various hi-tech wagons. It is that my purse isn’t as quick as those wagons run. So I am inclined to wait a bit, let the prices drop, and then select one of the more tried and true. I went for a basic Kindle. Yes, the Kindle Paperwhite looked nice, as did the Kindle Touch, and the new Kindle Fire. But again, my wallet isn’t all that nice, so the basic Kindle, at half of the price, looked good enough to me.
Upon getting the Kindle, I chose to go with an old book that I have read many times, “The Hobbit.” While I have read it many times, the last time was about 40 years ago. With the movies coming out, it seemed timely. I wanted something that I was familiar with to help me become familiar with the device, and I wanted to read something that I knew I enjoyed helping attach a positive experience to the e-reader and foster a desire to continue to read. I think it was a smart move.
Before I go on to expound the device itself, let me extol what it has already revealed to me. As I said, I used to read books a lot, but since the Internet most of my reading has been Internet based. I had forgotten that there is special magic, a special voice that comes from a book. Internet writers write for the crowd. They talk to everyone at once, like an orator on a stage. I’m afraid I have become guilty of that myself. But novelists write to the individual, they speak to you and you alone. It is intimate. It is a feeling I hope to bring back into my own writing.
As for the Kindle, it is simply wonderful. It has all the good qualities of a plain, old book, along with a lot of nice hi-tech add-ons. The e-ink display is so close to the non-glare, low strain appearance of paper that it boggles the mind. Reading from it feels like a book. The look of the paper, or I should say ‘display,’ the size and feel of it in my hands, is very comfortable and familiar.
In some ways reading from it is better than a book. While the basic Kindle uses buttons for page turns, the Paperwhite, Touch, and Fire use a page turning gesture. But frankly, I think the buttons make for even smoother reading. A page turn is a slight twitch of the thumb. It is nice to not have to read the left page and then the right, or turning the book to get my nightlight to fill the shadow created by the curved page. And what a delight, especially with old eyes in dim light, to be able to adjust the font size. I can leave my reading glasses on the night stand.
The power consumption is amazingly low. When I turn the thing off, a picture appears that, according to the documentation, uses no power. Fascinating, to say the least. The device is lighter than a book. Lighter than my paperback version of “The Hobbit” itself, and yet it holds “The Hobbit” and the “Oxford Dictionary,” and ultimately will hold a thousand books more.
It is wonderful to have a dictionary at hand. More handy than a regular dictionary, I just point at a word and there is a definition. And I can make margin notes, and highlight passages, just like a good old book, but without the messy Highlighter or pen, and with the ability to undo those marginal mistakes.
It is a pure delight having the device remember exactly where I left off. Should I set down a real book, perhaps in a hurry to answer a pesky phone, there is always that uncomfortable moment of finding my place again. Not so with Kindle (or Nooks or other such electronic books). Even if it is shut off, it remembers right where I was.
The thing has a web browser in it. A web browser! Amazing. Blogs and other Internet reading material can be placed right inside my electronic library, and read with the same ease. Okay, without a keyboard logging on can be a bit rough, but the Kindle is about reading, laptops are for doing. I can share books with my Kindle friends, which is darn neat if you ask me. While the Kindle has a limited storage capacity, Amazon offers a free book Cloud. Technically I can never run out of reading material, even if I run out of space.
Much to my surprise, I can put my own documents into my Kindle. DOC, DOCX, PDF, TXT, and other formats are possible, along with many image formats. No need to carry around my syllabus anymore, I can poke it into my Kindle, and annotate it if necessary.
All in all, I find my little Kindle to be an amazing, but more important, an enjoyable device. While this is my first, and undoubtedly time will heave ill will upon it, it has already proven to me that I should never be without one like it. If you are a reader and you do not have an e-reader, you should get one. The basic units cost little more than a pair of shoes, less in most cases. It is time to rekindle the flame.