Monday, November 08, 2010

Kindle(s) in the house

A few months ago I started thinking that I might want a Kindle. This was kind of a surprise, as I had never really considered it before. When we went to Idaho in July I bought an audiobook (The Tale of Desperaux) from to listen to in the car, and then realized it wouldn't play on anything that we had. Later I was checking out their list of compatible devices and saw the Kindle listed. "Ooh, that would be cool," I thought, "I could listen to audiobooks and read ebooks! Multi-purpose!" My friend Jeanette (in our ward book club) has a Kindle and loves it. I think the thing that really sparked my interest was when I read that the new model would support Korean. A couple of other factors also pushed me in that direction:

Having been in Korea and strapped for reading material more than once, the idea of being able to carry around an entire library in one small device was undeniably appealing.

A couple of years ago I read an unabridged edition of The Count of Monte Cristo that was 1600 pages long. The story moves along at a good pace but the book was really too big to comfortably read in bed.

Plus, it's a cool gadget. And cool gadgets are cool.

So I started researching (found the mobileread forums, which were very helpful), and decided to take the plunge. As it turned out, Kindles were not shipping right then, so instead I used the money in my paypal account to get an mp3 player so I could listen to audiobooks while painting. I ordered the Kindle a couple of weeks later.

When you buy a Kindle you have thirty days to decide if you want to keep it or return it. I spent a while exploring my new toy, checking out the features and figuring things out, but of course the real evaluation is in reading. The first book that I read on my Kindle was Connie Willis's Blackout(a time travel story set during the London Blitz, in the same universe as Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog). It really isn't like reading on a computer screen. The pearl e-ink screen is very nice and the contrast is good. The biggest adjustment was just figuring out comfortable ways to hold the device, but I got used to that pretty quickly.

Now, I love books as much as anybody. Not just reading but books. There are some really gorgeous books out there. Ebooks are not gorgeous. (Though I can see how one might find an aesthetic pleasure in the sleek design of the Kindle itself.) I don't see paper books going away any time soon. But the story is the same, the words are the same, just the method of delivery is different.

My first Kindle had a small spot in the screen, so I called Amazon and they sent a replacement. (I've seen a few posts from other people with the same problem--fortunately the return process is quick and easy!)

The second Kindle also had a minor screen problem--a thin white line that would sometimes show up, depending on how it hit the text on the screen (but not, oddly, on the screen saver images). It was really only slightly annoying, but I called Amazon and they said I could return that one too. So I got another replacement. Since I had thirty days to return the defective one we ended up with two Kindles in the house for a while. Doug used the other one, breezing through a large chunk of the D'Artagnan Romances (The Three Musketeers and sequels.) Maybe when I upgrade to a future model I'll pass this one on to him and we can share an account.

It turns out that the Korean font on the Kindle is really awful, and Amazon doesn't carry any Korean ebooks anyway, but at least they're starting to think about the global market. Their site says "Our vision for Kindle is to have every book ever written, in every language, available in 60 seconds from anywhere on earth." (I doubt that this is even possible, but it leads me to believe that they will at least have some Korean ebooks in the future.)

It has occurred to me that there isn't really any particular reason for me to have Kindle right now. I could see it being really handy for someone who travels a lot, or someone who works out of the home and likes to read on lunch break, neither of which I'm doing at this time. But I'm enjoying it anyway. I like the way it saves my place, and goes to sleep by itself, and I like the way I can download sample chapters from Amazon to help keep track of books that sound interesting.

I may get a cover, later, but for now I've crocheted this sleeve to keep it in when I'm not using it.

One unforeseen complication is that I can't read it when Andy's around, because he wants to play with it. (But he actually does the same thing with paper books, too.) Mostly I only get to read at bedtime, and then I fall asleep within about twenty minutes. I've been spending Andy's nap times painting, or trying to. I'll be glad when this painting is done and I can read at nap time.

I've also just joined goodreads, to post reviews and check out what my friends are reading. Fun!


Lara said...

I recently decided that I want one, too. It's on my Christmas list. I played with my friend's, and I think I will really like it, much as I love my books. I don't think I'll be giving up books, but the Kindle will be really, really nice to have!

Heather T. said...

Interesting review--I've been such a bookophile that I find it hard to believe I'd enjoy this style of reading. But I suppose you can get used to most anything!

Now if only Amazon will quit offering really unconscionably unpalatable e-books...

Expatriate Buckeyes said...

I've been thinking of getting a e-reader too. I'd really like to get one now that I know that you can listen to books on it as well. It would be such a blessing on those long car trips to Ohio.

Helena said...

Heather--the one particular book which has been in the spotlight lately has been removed, whether by Amazon or the author is unclear.

Julie--if you have a way to play an mp3 player through your car speakers or something like that, I think you can use it that way. Otherwise it would really only work for one person at a time. It's not very loud.

Susan said...

I have the Kindle app on my laptop, iPad, and phone, and I love it! So, congratulations! I am a member of Goodreads too, but I can't be bothered to update, and now I can't remember my id and password.

Anyway, in the Kindle app I find it difficult to find a passage (and I will concede that I haven't really made a significant effort), if I am looking for a quote or have a section I'd like to reread--that's easier for me in a paper copy. Also, many of my favorites are not available--not much market for older books, I suppose.

But on the other hand, I can (and do) carry around upwards of 50 books in my pocket all the time I can get a book that is newly out in seconds (for example, after failing to find the new McKinley novel at my local bookstore--they were sold out--I downloaded it onto my phone)! I can read on my breaks at work--what could be better?

Enjoy it!

Chris and Mandy said...

I got a nook in June and I love it for the same reason you love your Kindle. (I did research and decided that the nook was a better fit for me, to each her own, right?)
When I purchased it, they had a deal where when you bought a nook you got a $50 gift card. I used it to get a really nice leather "envelope" sleeve and a few books! I love it!

Amy Sorensen said...

I've been thinking about getting a Kindle for Nathan, who is sort of a reluctant reader. Maybe the electronic-y thing would make reading more appealing? I don't know. For me, I don't want a Kindle just because you can't read it in the bathtub. ;)

Did you like Blackout? It's what I'm asking Santa for. that, and the sequel! ;)

Becky said...

I bought one for Rocketman for his birthday in September. He didn't really care for one at the time but now he LOVES it! You know how much he travels and it's perfect for that. Also, the price had come way down so it was easier to justify.

Now, he's trying to talk me into one but I love the smell and feel of a book but who knows.

kelly edgerton said...

You always entice me to read new authors. I'm going to add Blackout to my wish list.

Love the Kindle cover (and I love Kate's pumpkin hat a few posts down - that is adorable). I can see you with a Kindle. Maybe not for every book, but definitely as something you have on hand in a to-go sort of way. Between you and your husband, I think this Kindle will see a lot of read time! Enjoy your new toy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your review! I spontaneously joined in on a group purchase of a kindle (we'll each get our own, but combined shipping and used one credit card). I'm on the hunt for free e-books, do you recommend any good ones?

Wingnut said...

What I don't need is another gadget. The problem is, I love gadgets. I want a Nook. I don't need a Nook. I listen to audio books about 65% of the time. I've been doing more borrowing from the library and reading "real" books in the last couple of years too. Finally, I have an e-reader on my Blackberry Storm that is great for when I'm out and about and have a few minutes that need filling with something like reading a book.

So, I'm covered on all basis.

But I so want one of these! LOL!