Kindling

So, I’ve been doing a bit of a reading experiment this past week.  I’m reading a book for the first time on the Amazon Kindle.  It’s been very interesting.
You see, Santa brought one for the Beloved at Christmas and she’s been using it for the past several months.  One of the books she’d read was Steig Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, the follow-up to “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” which we’d both enjoyed (as a book and a film – not too many of those).  She’d suggested that I read it, but of course it didn’t make much sense to go buy another copy with one sitting on her Kindle and so she has relinquished it to me while I read the book.*
I’m about half-way through and enjoying it but I thought I’d comment (and solicit opinions from you fellow readers…) on the Kindle.  Do you have one (or a Nook, or similar device)?  Do you like it?  If you don’t have one, would you want one?
As I see it:

Pros
  • Light and Portable.  I think this is really important for folks that travel frequently and don’t want to lug books around.  I read mostly before bed, so this isn’t a huge deal for me.
  • Easy-to-read. The Kindle’s text and background (text size is also adjustable) is very easy to read in any light.  Really easy and intuitive interface.
  • Versatile.  You can simultaneously carry around several of your favorite books, magazines and newspapers. Periodicals just “show up” in your inbox.  Pretty nice.
  • Resource friendly.  No trees were cut down for my version of this book.
Cons
  • No covers.  I like the “interface” of a book’s cover.  It “tells” me something about the book.
  • No flipping pages.  Sometimes I like to flip back and forth to re-read something in a story (especially a mystery story like this one).  Harder to do on a Kindle.
  • No home library.  I like having books in my house.  There’s a constant debate at The Aerie about just how many books we should retain, but I like seeing them and visiting them from time to time.  They’re like old friends.
  • No sharing.  This might be the biggest drawback.  When I finish a paper book, I can loan it to friends to enjoy.  Even multiple friends.  Even if I had a Kindle of my own, I don’t think we could “swap” books that we’d previously purchased.  Granted Kindle books are less expensive than paper ones, but I think the inherent ability to share is important to so many readers.
  • No oops.  If you’re at the beach or in the bath and you drop your book and it gets ruined, it’s an $8-20 annoyance.  If you drop your Kindle in the water (or maybe even the sand, I wouldn’t want to do the experiment), it could be a several hundred dollar catastrophe.
So for me – even though I have liked the interface and reading experience with the Kindle, unless I start traveling a lot, I think my preference is to stick with good old tree-eating paper books.
What do you guys think?
* a poor deal for her, I’m a slower reader than she is.

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28 thoughts on “Kindling

  1. The only Kindle I've looked at was Kelly's. It seemed pretty cool and she had a nifty cover that made it more "book-like". But I can't really make a judgment without actually reading a book on one. I don't think I'd mind having one, but don't think I'd ever completely abandon real books.

  2. I don't have a Kindle and have never had the opportunity to use one. Nonetheless, I'd have to cast my vote in favor of paper books. The biggest reason is that I read a LOT. I usually read about 8 books a month; even at $10 each I could not afford to buy them all. The library is my friend! I also just like the feel of a book in my hand. And I would miss the cover art.

  3. I'm very much a book kinda girl. At home I like reading hardback books, but for travel I prefer paperbacks and magazines. Not only are they smaller and lighter, but you can ditch them when you are done. If I don't have someone specific to hand them off to I put them someplace where they will be taken. Small hotels and B&Bs often have libraries where you can pick up or drop off books.

  4. I think they're cool, but I love my shelves full of books way too much to ever give them up. Like you, I love interacting with actual covers and pages. I'd rather spend the several hundred dollars on something else that, for me, would be much more useful.

  5. My current dilemmae (is that plural of dilemma??)…other than hoping the Kindle comes back to me before my trips to DC and Chicago later in the month…..are WHICH books do I buy on the Kindle, which do I want to borrow from the library and which do I really want to buy? The last category should be ones that I would want to pass on – but you never know ahead of time which ones are going to be the books you love, the books you want to pass on or the keepers for the Aerie library.

  6. I was kind of a snob, pre-Kindle. I don't want one, I said to friends and family. I like REAL books, ones trees died for.
    And then I got one for Christmas.
    I freaking LOVE my Kindle. (And once I get my review copies read, I am running back to it and never letting it go, ever.)
    I love that I can pre-order a book and start reading it when I wake up on the morning it comes out. So I can start reading the new Sue Grafton at 8 a.m., instead of waiting for the bookstore to open at 10 or for the UPS guy to deliver it at 12 or 1. It's not a huge difference, but it's a nice one. :)
    And I love that I can read a review in People, get the first chapter or two for free and then decide whether to buy the rest.
    And there's definitely something to be said for getting a new hardback book for $10 instead of $15 or $20.
    Also, you know me. When I go on vacation, I overpack books. If I go to my mom's house, I have a suitcase and a bag of books–literally. But with this, I have an entire library on a device that's lighter than a book.
    Yes, I miss reading in the bathtub (one of life's smaller pleasures, but a great one) but I love my Kindle.

  7. I was kind of a snob, pre-Kindle. I don't want one, I said to friends and family. I like REAL books, ones trees died for.
    And then I got one for Christmas.
    I freaking LOVE my Kindle. (And once I get my review copies read, I am running back to it and never letting it go, ever.)
    I love that I can pre-order a book and start reading it when I wake up on the morning it comes out. So I can start reading the new Sue Grafton at 8 a.m., instead of waiting for the bookstore to open at 10 or for the UPS guy to deliver it at 12 or 1. It's not a huge difference, but it's a nice one. :)
    And I love that I can read a review in People, get the first chapter or two for free and then decide whether to buy the rest.
    And there's definitely something to be said for getting a new hardback book for $10 instead of $15 or $20.
    Also, you know me. When I go on vacation, I overpack books. If I go to my mom's house, I have a suitcase and a bag of books–literally. But with this, I have an entire library on a device that's lighter than a book.
    Yes, I miss reading in the bathtub (one of life's smaller pleasures, but a great one) but I love my Kindle.

  8. I wonder if the Kindle might be more popular with the younger generation. I love books, I always have. I like to open them and to see the pages, the words, the smell of the book. I, like you, do most of my reading before bed, so I don't think I will ever get one. If I ever get an Ipod, I would use speakers with it, pretty much making it equivalent to a boom box. I wonder if there is a difference in generations and what we like due to what we are brought up enjoying? No offense…I am not insinuating that you are old…you are probably much younger then I am. I figure my kids who have grown up with the Ipod and the cell phone will also like the Kindle at some point. A very interesting topic, Steve!

  9. I wonder if the Kindle might be more popular with the younger generation. I love books, I always have. I like to open them and to see the pages, the words, the smell of the book. I, like you, do most of my reading before bed, so I don't think I will ever get one. If I ever get an Ipod, I would use speakers with it, pretty much making it equivalent to a boom box. I wonder if there is a difference in generations and what we like due to what we are brought up enjoying? No offense…I am not insinuating that you are old…you are probably much younger then I am. I figure my kids who have grown up with the Ipod and the cell phone will also like the Kindle at some point. A very interesting topic, Steve!

  10. No sharing. This might be the biggest drawback. That is the biggest drawback, from my POV. It means that you don't own that book on your Kindle; you are just renting it. Worse, it has been rumored that the Kindle?nook/iPad/etc. are trying to pull a Microsoftian bait and switch on the rights agreement whereby any notes you make on the text using their device will belong to them and not to you [1]. I find that offensive on many levels.John[1] Microsoft pulled that before releasing XP and again with Vista. In both cases, the outcry made them change it – but how many people would never have noticed the EULA's terms and merely clicked "Agree"?

  11. I was given a Sony PRS-505 last year for my birthday. I have to say I absolutely LOVE it, but it will never replace physical books in my life. It is fantastic to have a device that you can load hundreds of books on and have it weigh less than a single paperback. It is wonderful that I get better than 2 weeks of battery life during "normal use" and even more if I turn it off instead of putting it to "sleep" when I'm done reading. I adore that I can load any text file, .pdf, .html file, Word document, and just about anything else that has words/pictures in it onto the device via my own computer, free of charge. There's so much GOOD free content out there that I haven't bought an eBook in over a year, and don't see myself buying one anytime soon.HOWEVER: I like the feel of a physical book, and turning pages, and miss that with an eBook. I like having books I purchased sit on my bookshelves and hope that when my kids are older, they'll stand in front of the shelves with their head craned sideways, looking for one of Daddy's Books to read. I like being able to give away or swap books I don't want to hold on to anymore, and loan favorites to a friend.I know a lot of people like the fact that Kindles/iPads/etc have wireless connectivity, web browsing, etc, but that actually detracts from them, in my mind. I want an eBook reader to be as close to the book replacement as it can be. The Sony Reader does a nice job of that, and at any given time I'm usually reading 1 book on my PRS-505, 1 book on my Droid (for those 5-10 minute periods on the go), and a physical book that sits on my nightstand.

  12. Janie — the Beloved's also had the cover which I think makes the reading experience easier (easier to hold, that is) and makes the Kindle more attractive.

  13. RP — we'd wondered if there was going to be an adaptation by libraries to a Kindle-like technology. It doesn't seem like it would be too hard to download a book for a certain amount of time and then when your "loan" expired, it would just delete itself.

  14. QofB — we do similar "donations" of books while we travel. I always hope that someone finds them and enjoys them and that they don't just end up in the trash!

  15. That's a good point — I think I have been a little bummed that I got "Anathem" from the library and that we don't own it. Because we need another giant book in the house.

  16. Kelly — I think the periodicals feature is really good — because unlike books, I don't save magazines. To me, that seems like a great paper-savings right there. We're heading to HI in June, and I'm already thinking about how many books I should take!

  17. I've got a Nook and my pros and cons are similar. The travel thing is big for me, because I really hate toting multiple books on a trip. I don't read in the bathtub, so the oops isn't a big deal, although I'm more careful when I bring it to the beach. One nice thing about the Nook (wish you had one!) is that I can share books with other Nook users. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who has one yet… otherwise I'd be happy to share my mini library.

  18. FS — I do love my iPods! (I have two) — and they have totally transformed the way that I listen to music. I was very skeptical of them early (anything that's so hyped I tend to stay away from), but I have to admit that they're pretty awesome.

  19. John — I hadn't heard about the note-taking ownership issue. I wonder if they will evolve to a DRM-sharing model something like Apple had for a while (i.e. when you bought a book, you could "share" it with n other Kindles — that sort of thing.)

  20. Great answer Ross — I didn't know that the Sony one could read other filetypes. That seems like it would be hugely useful for a e-reader. It may be a bit of a conceit, but I really do like having a "library" at the house — more than your car, or your watch, or whatever — I think the books you save says a lot about you. I think that's hard on an e-reader. Though I suppose something like Shelfari or GoodReads becomes the new library??!

  21. Hapa — I'm glad you commented, because I remembered you'd gotten a Nook and seemed to like it. The sharing thing is great — I wonder if Amazon will eventually move to that sort of platform — it seems like such an improvement. Of course, it seems that the Kindle is doing just fine sales-wise, so they may be waiting for things to slip or for a serious challenge from somewhere else to offer that sort of improvement.

  22. Way behind on my RSS feed…
    I think it would be a bad financial deal for me to get a Kindle. I at least 50% of my books from the library (free) and another 40% from used bookstores or through Bookins (cheap). Buying a new hardcover for $10 is still way more than I'm used to spending for a book.
    And the answer to the how-many-books-to-retain question is ALL OF THEM! ;)

  23. OK, I am obviously biased given where I work, but I had stopped reading fiction over the years. My Kindle has brought that back. I tend to read for 3-4 hours at a stretch, especially when I am reading fiction. Especially given how much I travel, this has changed everything. I read a book or two each trip, and re-found my love for good reading. For non-linear reading it's still a challenge, but when e-ink based readers go touch, that will change too (all you have to do is look at the Kindle app or the iBooks app on the iPad). I love my hardcover books, but unless as a collectors item, I doubt I'll ever buy one again.

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