Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kindle - Week One

You may recall that I've been debating for over a year about whether I want to buy a Kindle. Well, the debate was resolved last week when my husband got me one as a combination birthday present/payment for picking so many blueberries (his idea, not mine - I don't need to be paid).  After a week of owning one, I'm still debating the advantages of e-books.

Don't get me wrong; I can see a long-term love affair developing. It is so light! Forget the "experience" of holding a book. Holding the Kindle is so much more comfortable and natural. I like the notion of being able to have an entire library at my disposal in one neat little package. Reading off the screen is better than reading from a computer screen, and seems to be truly comparable to reading from a book. Of course, I haven't yet had the luxury of being able to spend hours at one sitting reading, so I can't say if I might get tired of reading from a screen.

One thing I love that I hadn't anticipated is the ability to upload personal documents. My boss sent a couple of articles faculty are supposed to read before our opening workshop in a week or two.  One was a pdf - I just plugged the Kindle in to the computer and dragged the file over like I would for any flash drive. The other article was a Word document, so I had to email it to Amazon for conversion, but I used the free service to email back to my Yahoo account, then dragged the file over. Done within 10 minutes.  Now, instead of being chained to my computer while reading these no-doubt thrilling documents or having to kill some trees to print them out, I can carry the documents with me and read bits of them while waiting for my daughter's orthodontic appointment or the Band Booster meeting. I'm wondering if this might be a tool I can use for grading papers.

Just as with any relationship, though, there are some little things that bother me. The first book I bought was the Bible, and I took the Kindle, not the physical Bible, to church this Sunday. Maybe it's just because I'm not yet used to the navigation of the Kindle, but I was so slow finding verses! In the book Bible, I could find a passage in seconds. With the Kindle, I miss being able to flip from passage to passage to inform what I'm reading at the time.  The second problem is that the battery ran out during church Wednesday night, and I was stuck without a Bible.  I guess I'm going to have to remember to treat the Kindle like my car - when the battery is down to a quarter-tank, refuel.

Another thing that nags at the back of my mind is how "selfish" Kindle is. If I buy a book on Kindle, it's available to only me, unless I am willing to share my sweet device, and I fear what would happen if I let my kids borrow it - I have found it to be very true that "You can't have anything nice if you have kids."  The plus side of all those books on the shelf is that they are there, visible, inviting. Just yesterday, my daughter was loitering in the room where I was working on stuff for school, and she suddenly said, "Anne of Green Gables! We saw that movie at school. It was good! I think I'll read this when I'm finished with The Red Pyramid." How can that happen if my library is hidden on a Kindle?

Finally, something that is bothersome but has nothing, really, to do with Kindle is that their Whispernet service is sort of iffy where I live. I've been able to connect to the store, but a couple of times the download of a book was interrupted because of loss of signal, I guess. I finally had to download the book on the computer and transfer it over.  One of the drawbacks of living in the boondocks.

Overall, I'm really pleased that my husband knocked me off the fence by getting me this gift. But I still haven't quite worked out how ebooks and paper books will interact in my world. I'm re-reading Hamlet to prepare me to read Ophelia by Lisa Klein, and rather than get a Kindle version of the play, I went to the shelf and pulled down my Complete Works of William Shakespeare from college days. You know, why buy a book I already have, blah, blah.  The first night, I propped open the 3-inch spine of the Complete Works so I could read in bed. Bits of a dead flower that must have commemorated something in college fell onto my face. My elbows and biceps gradually sagged as I made my way through the first scene.  Three nights in, my resolve is wavering. Does it really matter if I duplicate something in my library? For $.99, I can have Hamlet on my Kindle....

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