A review of the digital reader from Amazon.
Well, I am a reader. You could say an avid reader. It is, no doubt about it, one of my favorite activities in the world. A good book, a reference book, a history book, and a cup of coffee and I am in my own world. Diving into the knowledge, the stories, the history within two covers, printed on paper – a piece of life, captured in words – is a magical experience. I love books. But is it the book itself that I love, or the content for which the book is a vehicle? In ancient times, before the printing press, knowledge and stories were shared orally, then initially printed in the form of cave drawings, early alphabetic attempts, etchings on stone, writing on skins and scrolls…
For the last several hundred years we’ve had books. A big step forward. Well now we have not just books, but devices that can contain thousands of ‘e-books’, and the ability to read them in a fashion somewhat similar to an actual book, thanks to e-readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle. Will it catch on?
It seems at some level is already has. Thousands of Kindles, Nooks, Sony and other e-readers have been selling.
Yet I resisted this digital phenomenon, citing my love for the book itself and the experience that came with it – it’s own history, former owners, dusty look, leather-bound cover, or crinkled paperback existence. How could you replace the beauty of a worn-out spine or the smell of a printed page?
But after my recent move, and carry box after box after box of heavy books, and knowing that I would continue to add to this collection – I decided I had to at least give the e-book thing a try.
So about two months ago I broke down and bought a Kindle. I was worried for the most part about the reading experience. I knew it would be great to have access to so many books at once, and be able to carry them with me, and be able to highlight, take notes, find definitions of words in a second – but would I actually like to sit down with a digital device and read? Could this experience really emulate reading an actual book?
The answer is decidedly yes. The Kindle arrived, and I had bought the corresponding cover for it – which makes the whole thing look much like a book, and you have to open it like the cover of a book, so there are some nods to the traditional printed counterparts. After charging it up, and loading a few free books, and buying a couple others, I started to use it. And I found that not only is it acceptable – I love it! It is actually easier to read than an actual book, because there are no pages turn. This means I can read with one hand, or with no hands, I can read while eating and use the side of my hand to ‘turn a page’. The digital ink technology mimics printed ink, and is no worse for the eyes than reading an actual book. It turns out that I am more interested in the content of a book than I am in the book itself. But don’t worry – I am not turning turning my back on my printed pieces. In fact, I just had some built-in bookshelves put in at my house to house the collection my wife and I have, but the fact is that I can only take so many books with me at a time, and the Kindle ups that amount incredibly.
And of course the fact that there are millions of free e-books in the public domain, including tons of theological and historical texts – not to mention thousands of literary classics – and you really can’t go wrong. At $139, my Kindle paid for itself an hour after I had it out of the box, downloading plenty of free material, as well as newer books at discounted prices. I find myself reading more and more these days – and when I’m reading a real book, I actually get nostalgic for my Kindle.
So if you’re also a serious reader, you may want to give an e-reader a second look. And for my part, the latest incarnation of the Kindle, the Kindle 3 – graphite with 6″ pearl e-ink display, a battery that lasts a month, the ability to hold 3,500 books – is the best of the bunch.
See a review in the London Telegraph of the Kindle.