The heart says book, but the head says Kindle
Apologies readers. I haven’t had time to knock off a post this week, so to speak. I do, however, have a brilliant guest blog from my lovely other half raving about his favourite new toy – the Kindle. If you are teetering on the brink of treating yourself to one, or thinking of buying one as a gift, what are you waiting for…?
There is something deeply romantic about a book. Each one has a life of its own, shared and read by many. Those that end up on bookcases at home tell you something about the owner, their personality and interests. A book has a form, a touch, even a smell. So it is no wonder that many shudder at the thought of all this being replaced by something that begins ‘e-‘.
But that is exactly what is happening. It may have started with just a kindle, but now it is a raging fire. E-books are taking over and it is not difficult to see why. As someone who commutes and travels a lot, I decided to try out Kindle for myself and purchased the 3G model direct from Amazon for £149.
I love technology and with age I am increasingly becoming an early-adopter, helped by greater affluence and a desire not to get left behind. But when it comes to the Kindle I wish it hadn’t taken me so long.
Straight from the box it is brilliant. Buying an e-book couldn’t be easier: one click and within minutes it is waiting for you on your Kindle home page. Navigation is simple and pages can be ‘turned’ easily while still having a hand free. For iPhone, iPad, Android owners there is an irresistible urge to touch the screen, which achieves only a smudge. This is not a rival to a ‘smart’ device; it is a dedicated reader and pretends to be nothing more. And that is the first thing you notice, it is a pleasure to read on a par with old school paper thanks to the e-ink technology. I don’t understand how this works, and like many things prefer not to find out. I enjoy the wonder of it all.
It also has a built in dictionary, which for the vocabulary-challenged like myself is a revelation. Unfortunately, I am not gifted in the language department, not even my mother tongue, but with the Kindle I am slowing catching up. With a few moves of the cursor the dictionary definition of the unfamiliar or forgotten word pops up and, educated, you can carry on reading with a satisfying understanding of the full prose.
The other feature I love is the ability to sync across devices. I am never without my iPhone now with Kindle app. While the iPhone provides a far inferior reading experience, the eye-tiring screen is still handy for those hideous moments on the tube where there isn’t enough space for a Kindle but you need a work of fiction to whisk your imagination anywhere else. More importantly, at least in my mind, it provides entertainment on a bog-break in trap 2. Powered by the magic of the mysterious sounding Whispersnet your iPhone knows exactly where you have read up to and vice versa when you move back to the Kindle. The convenience and usefulness of this is surprising. The connectivity also means newspaper subscribers will find their daily rag waiting for them each morning in a convenient and easily handled form.
The main benefit of the Kindle, though, over the now archaic book is a simple fact of size. The Kindle slips oh so easily into your travel bag or large jacket pocket. Even with the extra bulk of a protective cover, which I strongly recommend, it takes up no room at all. I find myself with book in many circumstances when I would have previously gone without. In fact I now read. A lot. I am not one to switch between books; once I’ve started, I will finish. But the Kindle does allow you to carry a mini-library with you so you can select a title depending upon your mood. And the battery life is amazing. It just goes on and on before a brief re-charge is needed. It is the ideal reliable companion for the lone traveler or daily commuter.
There are, of course, some drawbacks. Well, three that I can think of. Firstly, for the jet setters you can’t use it during take-off and landing. Secondly, I miss proper page numbers. Thirdly, the formatting is sometimes a bit odd, as you do not see a complete book page on one screen. But that is all I have come up with. I am sure future generations will have colour and graphics, which of course you need for textbooks and such like (but I would be quite happy to never see another one of those). I am happy with my simple but brilliant reader.
The Kindle may not share the romance of a book, but it sure does beat it in many other ways. There are still many suspicious bookworms out there, and I understand why. But technology is a serial romance killer and so it will be again with the book.