June 12th was my wedding anniversary, and my husband surprised me with a Kindle! Available from Amazon.com, this second-generation device is amazing. It comes well-packaged and attractively boxed, plugs into the wall to charge up, and has an extremely user-focused guide to getting started on the Kindle itself. It is always connected to the Amazon store , which has over 300,000 titles available for download. Downloading a book takes a minute or less! It appears that books that are only available in hardback sell for $9.99 – I checked the price on Olive Kitteridge, which is now out on paperback, and it was less – about $8.50. So, about the price of a movie.
I already had an Amazon account; all I needed to do was register my Kindle, connect it to my account, turn on one-click ordering. I scanned the New York Times bestsellers available for download and chose Michael Connelly’s The Scarecrow for my first Kindle read.
I really like the feel of a nice book, tend to read very quickly and can scan and take in a sentence at a time, so I didn’t know whether I could take to the Kindle. I wear reading glasses, so I set the text size on the Kindle at a larger size – no need for glasses! But that means even fewer words on the page, and more frequent “page-turning.”
I found that within the first couple of chapters, “turning” the pages became completely automatic. When you turn the pages of a book, you don’t think about doing so; you don’t even notice you are doing it. . . same on the Kindle. And because there is a “next page” area under both the left and right thumb when you’re holding the Kindle two-handed, it’s always convenient.
I did notice that I paid more attention to the quality of the writing and the details of The Scarecrow– a book with a strong plot and interesting characters tends to pull me into digesting it in great gulps. So in some ways, reading on the Kindle helped me enjoy the process of reading more. It’s easy to put the Kindle to sleep, and when you wake it, it goes back to the page you were on (very convenient). The battery lasts several days.
The Kindle has some features that I expect to get into more in the future – the ability to make notes, to upload your own documents, etc. It’s very comfortable to hold, the type is opaque on the screen, and there is no glare. From many years experience reading on a computer screen, I expected the Kindle screen to light up – it does not. (So reading under the covers will still require your Little Bitty Booklight.)
The Kindle holds about 1,500 novel-size books, but Amazon knows that some readers will exceed that number. So your purchases are permanently archived – you can choose the books you want on your Kindle and the rest will be stored for you – you can swap out as needed. This is nice security in case your Kindle is ever lost, stolen, or damaged, too! Business travel for me includes two trips of about a week – and I’m capable of reading five or more books during that time period, depending on my schedule. Having all my reading material on the Kindle will make traveling much easier – on a recent trip to Miami, I actually abandoned three books because I had too much to carry home! (Luckily they were used book store purchases.)
There is a downside: You can’t take the Kindle into the tub. As someone who has been known to actually shower with a book, this is somewhat disappointing. (Tutorial for those who wonder how it is done: Hold a paperback book in your right hand away from the spray while you soap with the left hand, eyes fixed on the page. Rinse while maintaining the book at a safe distance from the water. When clean, be sure to switch book to your left hand so you can wash and rinse your right arm and hand. Necessary page-turning is done very carefully, minimizing the contact between your damp hand and the page.)
The Kindle does not come with a cover or a case; there are many available. I ordered a neoprene sleeve to keep the Kindle protected when I travel, rather than a notebook-cover type, as I very much like the feel of the “naked” Kindle in my hand when reading and did not want to add any bulk. The sleeve fits well, is very lightweight, and will make carrying my Kindle with me a breeze. It’s a delight when things are well-designed and work the way they’re supposed to. The Kindle may not be as popular as the iPod, but it reminds me of it – something that is perfectly designed to do what it’s supposed to do. Two thumbs up!