How I’m feeling about my Kindle


As I’ve been reading my first two full length books on the Kindle, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I feel about the experience… does it work? does it feel right? does it change the experience of reading, and if so, how?

Here are my observations so far:

In many ways, it is easier than reading a printed book. By that I mean:

1. It’s lighter and therefore easier to hold. Especially in bed, where I do most of my reading (as long as I keep it in the suede case that came with it…without the case, there’s not enough room to hold it and not touch buttons unintentionally, more on this issue below.) Since the case is very book-cover-like, that works very well).

2. It’s also really easy to carry around, which I find I do more often and catch more moments for reading on the fly. If I travelled a lot, this would be the most important feature, I’m sure.

3. It’s easier to find the place I left off. When I open it, it instantly lands on the last page I was reading, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to mark where I was, losing the bookmark, risk breaking the spine, decide whether or not it’s okay to fold corners of pages, etc.

4. The ordering and buying process is incredibly convenient. (Maybe too convenient? Will I buy too many books?!)

5. It enables my habit of reading more than one book at a time. (Confession: in addition to the two Kindle books, I’m also reading three other print books I had before getting a Kindle.) If I find it hard to carry one printed book around, imagine if I tried to carry all the books I’m reading at a time? Impossible if I want to maintain my already-listing posture.

Other favorable features:

I love the “get a free sample” of the book feature. So far I ordered sample portions of five books. I subsequently purchased two of them, and am liking both a lot (those are the two I’m reading right now.) I decided against buying the other three, based on the sample. Two of the books I likely wouldn’t have bought in any case, but one I probably would have, based on the book descriptions, reviews and recommendations. So maybe I saved myself some money? Possible, but debatable.

These old eyes love the adjustable font feature. The other day I actually read without my reading glasses! That hasn’t happened in years! (I went back to the next smaller size though, because I found I wanted more words on the screen, so the glasses came back.) But I don’t find my eyes getting tired when I read a long time, like I sometimes do when reading a print book with small font.

I love the fact that I don’t have to agonize over decisions about what to do with the book after I read it, viz., somehow make room on a bookshelf here at home (not easy!) in case I want to read again someday or loan to a friend, take back to Powells, take to Goodwill, etc. It will always be there for me and never take up any space at all. I find this very cool!

I love the fact that I can’t ever lose books, because Amazon will keep my copy on file.

The downsides:

You can’t get every book you might want this way. For example, upon the recommendation of the delightful son of a co-worker, I tried to buy Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close last week. Incredible as it may seem for a newer book that is quite popular, it wasn’t available. After ordering the print book (which arrived within 24 hours from Amazon!), it was clear why: there are very some strange color markups and visual effects in the text, which presumably would be impossible to replicate in the Kindle. Future technology may change this, I’m guessing…

It’s very touchy. You have to work to get the hang of holding the Kindle so you don’t touch something that makes it do something you don’t mean to do. At first, I couldn’t find a way to do that, but then I found using the cover handled the problem for me. I think they still have some design work to do. But that’s the name of the early adopter game!

There are still so many features I don’t know and don’t use yet, and sometimes I feel that makes me a bad person. Right now I’m just happy to read. Once I feel I really get the hang of that, I’ll try to move on to annotating, highlighting, and all the other cool features I don’t understand yet and feel guilty about not using.

There is something different about the reading experience. I’m trying to figure out what this means, and whether it is a matter of habit? For example, and I hadn’t really thought much about this before, but I think there IS something sensually soothing about the feel of a book cover, thumbing through the pages, smelling the fresh paper and ink. I’m trying to deconstruct and parse exactly what the print book experience is for me. I’m still working on it, and will check back in when I have something insightful to say.

I’ve found there are a lot of really interesting discussions on the future of books on the web. I hope to have something to contribute to that discussion someday.

But first I have to find something more insightful to say.


3 responses

  1. My guess about the seduction of the printed page is that we associate the love of reading with the smell, touch of “real” books. More than our other senses, aroma elicits memory. My high school students who hated reading also hated the smell of paper. I love that new paper smell when I walk into a bookstore; my Brother the Jock says he has the same experience when he opens a new box of baseballs. Hmmm…do you suppose we Kindlers could talk the folks who make Febreze into putting out a new book smell in a spray? 8>)

  2. now there’s an idea! And maybe the kindle makers could infuse the cover with the fragrance?! As long as it wasn’t carcinogenic it would have a lot of appeal to us sensory readers.

    Another favorable feature I didn’t include above: no trees were harmed in the making of a kindle book. As far as I know. I bring this up Having just seen yet another reference to the print version of a newspaper as the “dead tree version”. I confess I don’t know the environmental impact of kindle manufacture and operation but it would seem it doesn’t involve trees?

  3. I think we may be on to something with this Kindle idea. Anything that opens up so much choice with such long term possibilities and looks affordable sets me to reaching for my wallet, even if it is another “gadget” that has to find a place in my gadget jungle.