Have I mentioned that I broke down and got a Kindle?
We got one of the $115 models at Target. It connects to your home or hotel or coffeeshop wi-fi. It has a small advertising banner on the bottom and when it’s turned “off.” Otherwise, it is like any Kindle.
I got it for two reasons. (I may have already told you, but duh, the last two weeks have been tough, so I can’t remember.)
First, I needed to see what my e-books would REALLY look like to a reader who bought the Kindle edition. The Kindle for PC app doesn’t show any glitches for me in titles that readers say have glitches. I have already been able to fix some things by looking and editing. This is nice!
Second, I figured I could carry that under my arm up to Mama’s hospital room while she had her blood transfusion and the assorted tests that they always run. I did read a bit on the device. I got some $1.99 Benchley books and various other books that I’ve always loved, along with some of the free specials and classics. And, of course, the beta editions of my YA books!
Okay . . . another reason is that Hubby is going to be able to download PDF or other e-editions of various manuals and so forth, and then he can just carry that to the place where he’s going to work on whatever instead of lugging huge manuals along. That is a good excuse, isn’t it?
So! What do I think of it?
Well, it would be great for someone with no visual infirmities. I do have visual infirmities, and they mean that I can only use THIS computer (a desktop with a Dell LCD monitor) for yea-many-hours without a break. It used to be, back in the CRT days, that I had to take even more frequent breaks. I have large fonts turned on. There are various other limitations that I have. (For example, I simply can’t read three-columned text any more because the lines of text are too short . . . it’s complicated. There’s an optimal line length for text when you have various infirmities. I’ve set the Kindle font size and line length so that it’s comfortable for a while, but after about twenty minutes my eyes burn and things blur a bit. It means it’s break time.)
I still think, though, that even if I had no infirmities the way I didn’t have before I had surgery (heh), I’d be a bit cramped and hampered by the screen showing only X amount of text. I typically read very fast, and I usually have books or magazines open to a two-page spread. It’s just more homey and comfy. Nope, I can’t really explain. I also tend to flip back and forth through everything now and then. You can search for specific stuff in Kindle files, but it’s tough to have the illusion that you can flip back and forth. I kind of miss the feel of print and paper, too.
The GREATEST feature so far, though, is that you can e-mail ANY Word document or PDF file or text file to your Kindle address (your user ID at kindle dot com) and it will be converted to a Kindle format file (!!) and put out there for your Kindle to pick up the next time you update/connect! That is so cool! You can see what something will look like in Kindle format by just e-mailing yourself the most current Word document, without committing to publishing with CreateSpace or paying anyone to convert it (or trying out all those other services that don’t quite work properly.) It’s so cool! Hubby sent manuals in all different formats and they went on the Kindle just fine.
The keyboard and search function and menu (shop Kindle store anytime!)–that’s all grand. You can get stuff instantly if you are connected to wi-fi. You can subscribe to magazines or newspapers–for now, that means the New Yorker and Reader’s Digest and New York Times, mostly. It can read books to you, or you can play audio books on it. I enjoy doing highlighting and marking passages that I can later look at again (“What did I think was a great line that Vonnegut had in this one?”)
It’s pretty neat as a toy gadget. It was worth the investment because we are somewhat solvent (and we splurge like that on toys), but it isn’t for everyone.
Why do I say that? Don’t I believe the current hype that “print is dead” and “everyone is dumping publishing houses in favor of direct publishing” and so forth?
Well . . . I know that a lot of e-books are priced low as promotional items. But also sometimes you get what you pay for. There’s a lot of junk out there. I can send off for a sample, but that will only be the first chapter. I won’t be able to riffle through and read random pages and do the other things I do with paper books. With the classics, how are they formatted? Some are good and some aren’t.
“New” e-books are expensive, costing around $10. I understand why they are priced that way, but somehow I have that feeling that I used to get when I would purchase software and games for the Apple and old computers . . . I’d use them a couple of times and then they’d be obsolete and I’d throw them out. You can’t take an e-book that you didn’t finish or that you have read and won’t want to re-read and drop it into the charity box, or the rest home’s library cart, or the half-price bookstore’s slot, or a friend’s car (where the friend can read it or pass it along until it falls apart.) There is no more “People’s Library” or “bookcrossing.” Man . . . that is $10 that I just sort of threw away in exchange for reading a couple of chapters and then deciding it was junk. Maybe that’s just me, but it rankles. I could have at least found someone who did appreciate it, if it had been a print edition.
I’m concerned about people on fixed incomes, low incomes, and so forth. E-book reading requires you to have one or more e-readers. If people are struggling to feed their children macaroni and cheese, there’s no extra money for this special equipment. Lower-income people can get mass market paperbacks at church rummage sales, library sales, used book stores, and so forth–often for a quarter or fifty cents. They’re not deprived of reading as long as the cheapie books are around. Can the schools or government agencies provide everyone a laptop and an e-reader? Can we really afford that? I don’t know.
Why can’t the two technologies coexist? I don’t see why they can’t. After all, my most rich source of reading material is the Web and the rest of the ‘net. I still read books, too.
What about art books, coffee table books, photography compendia, and that kind of thing? To appreciate the art books, you need for them to be large format and glossy paper. Some books are meant to be hunched over and savored. You don’t want to stare at thumbnails if you want to get a good idea of a photograph’s charms.
But anyhow. The Kindle is a pretty neat gadget. You could do worse than get this bargain edition of the device.