A New Way to Read

As a recent present to myself, I bought a Kindle.

Kindle is Amazon’s digital book reader thingy, in case you haven’t heard.

Long a fan of handheld devices, I had resisted buying any kind of e-book reader. The printed book is an elegant technology. I hesitate to adopt a new gadget when the old version could hardly be improved on.

There will always be books in my home and office. However, this device seems better than previous generations of readers. Here are some basic reasons for shifting some of my library from print to electrons:

  • Growing concern for diminishing numbers of trees (especially here in the south, where our pines so often become toilet paper)
  • A need to declutter and simplify
  • Frustration over never being able to check out a best-seller at the library, due to popular demand (a good thing)
  • Distaste over having to carry so much stuff with me everywhere, including a laptop

These were personal reasons. The cool reasons that really sold this device to me were:

  • No computer syncing required
  • No cost for wireless access (it works over one of the cell phone networks, and you need not own that particular cell plan)
  • Ability to access the web – to a very limited and slow degree, but still…
  • For a dime, you can email a document to Amazon, where it will be converted to Kindle format and magically appear in your table of contents
  • Plays audiobooks (for which you do need the provided USB cable to hook up with a service like Audible)
  • Plays mp3s
  • Can use some web tools designed for mobile devices, like the Google mobile apps, including calendar, email, and maps, so it’s possible to do email if you can type with your thumbs.
  • While reading, it’s easy to annotate specific lines of text, just as you would pencil something in a book.
  • Can download substantial samples of most titles before deciding to purchase.

So far, I am quite pleased with my present. Teaching class, I used it as a backup for my online class materials. I’m now reading my 2nd novel. “Turning pages” is simple; the device is lightweight (about the size of a paperback). The “print” is highly legible, even for those of us who are (ahem) needing more light these days. (You can also increase/decrease the font size.) Books cost about $10, and are instantly available.

For me, the Kindle fills a niche. For good or bad, I can instantly (for a fee) access a title that would involve at least a car trip or several days of waiting for delivery. Also, $30 seems a lot to pay for a best-seller entertainment novel that I will only read once. I will still visit the public and academic library for older titles, highly visual titles, etc.

I could gush more but will stop here. I’m not sure if this first edition of the Kindle is something that would hold up in a school setting – but I think it’s worth a look.

Mary Ann Fitzgerald

University of Georgia

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Posted on July 5, 2008, in Reading, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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