Kindling a new passion
I am an unlikely e-book enthusiast. I love actual books. I love holding them, opening them, handling them, putting them on my shelves (much to my husband’s chagrin, who thinks I have way too many). Taking them out again, piling them up next to my bed as a visual reminder of what I’d love to read if only I’d got the time.
So why, then, did I go for a Kindle, of all things, when I recently got the present of a money voucher to spend on myself? Well, I’m also a gadget person, and the idea of carrying a huge number of books with you, albeit in electronic format, has appealed to me for a while now. So, when I found myself recently in the airport, a little time on my hands and said voucher burning a hole in my pocket, I went straight to Dixon’s and asked to look at their Kindles.
Two to choose from – one (less expensive) one that connects to the internet via WiFi or to any computer via USB, or the 3G one that would have let me connect to the electronic bookshop from anywhere in the world. I chose the former… the amount on the voucher had already been exceeded, because I really, really wanted the purple cover for my new Kindle, and the shop assistant’s explanation that 3G was really important in case I was on a beach somewhere and ran out of reading material just didn’t seem so relevant.
Aside: 3G or not 3G? Actually, if you are away from WiFi a lot and subscribe to electronic newspapers, 3G might be better. If, like myself, you are close to your home WiFi network every day, this is not an issue; besides, when you send other texts to your Kindle (web articles e.g.), you’ll be charged for sending them via 3G.
Back to the story. So, new Kindle, all excited, fighting off my 10-year-old son Ciarán, who obviously is The Self-Appointed Resident Techie in our house, I wanted to start it up – only to realise that (as it’s not 3G) I couldn’t access the Kindle store! Pity. I could, however, read the owner’s manual… yawn. Ciarán grabbed the Kindle and proceeded to read the manual. All of it. Nerd. Although I could sense that this might come in handy later on…
Connecting the Kindle to my parent’s PC (we were on holidays in Germany at the time) was easy. Very easy. As was downloading my first-ever Kindle book, Skulduggery Pleasant (on Ciarán’s recommendation). Followed by a book for him (robot.com by Jason Bradbury, great for techie kids). After that, it was a little difficult – what to go for? Lots of free books, those whose copyright has run out, Jane Austen, Mr Shakespeare, that kind of thing. But what would I be willing to pay for? As it was the summer holidays, and light reading seemed required, I looked at the list of popular downloads and found a few novels and popular history books. Sebastian Barry’s Annie Dunne went on, as did Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Environment (loving it so far!). When I’ll actually get to reading 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense (Michael Brooks) or Economyths (David Orrell) is another question – they were on offer on amazon.de (100 Tage Kindle in Deutschland, 100 books for one Euro each), as were another few I went for. A bargain is a bargain…
So far, having the Kindle has made one noticeable difference in my daily life – I actually like being early when meeting people now, as I know I’ll have a choice of something interesting to read, without having to carry a number of books around with me.
I love the fact that it only needs recharging every few weeks (unless you have it on WiFi a lot); that you can change the font size, number of lines on a page, width of margins; that it is really, really easy on the eyes, and that it has a dictionary with which you can easily look up words you might not have come across before. Like diegetic or thermodynamics (it briefly explains all three laws). You know, the kind of thing you would never admit to not knowing, but aren’t 100% sure about at the same time. You can comment and underline, although that is somewhat awkward. But above all, you can read your books easily, wherever you are.
Where to from here? Will I build up a library on my Kindle? When looking at a new book, I’ll probably opt for the Kindle version where available. Will I turn on comment sharing? Probably not, at least not yet… I’ve only recently discovered how to use Readability for Chrome to save web articles to my Kindle – a great way of catching up with longer texts I don’t like looking at on my PC screen. More about this later, I hope.
And if you’re a Kindle user, you might enjoy the bookclub which @AnseoAMuinteoir has started online, at kindlersbookclub.freeforums.org – see you there?