Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crossing Over into KindleLand

Burdened with Amazon coupons awarded for past CD & book buying sins and, more importantly, blessed with substantial generosity from family and friends for an event that I had nothing to do with, except for my drop-in attendance, I've taken the plunge into the pseudo-possession of books.

I have a Kindle. A Kindle II, to be specific.
Let me wax in the dated mode of singing groups that dressed alike and rendered heartbreak in harmony.
It's neat. Very Neat.
It really is thin, light, and iPod-like in its operation (although it would be EVEN NEATER if the pages became wide as you tilted the screen from the vertical to the horizontal, but I'll suffer gladly).
I've read in bright sunlight, in dimmed 40 watt light (yeah, those damn energy-saving lights that catch on like an old time steam engine slowly pulling out of a station), and while walking the dog.
There are a minimal amount of buttons, so you're not accidentally changing pages or skipping to other menus.
The downloads on the free Amazon/Sprint network is as fast as advertised.
The screen is extremely easy to read and, most importantly, does not tire the eyes. You can change the font size, which is a thoughtful option.
I charged the Kindle over a week ago and I've been reading something on it every day. The battery indicator bar has barely moved from the Fully Charged mode.
For family and friends who are always intimidated or teed off as to what to give you at Christmas or at other gifting opportunities, having a Kindle opens up easy avenues to their relief and to your happiness. Amazon gift cards are a delight. Truly.
And, finally, have I said how neat the Kindle is?

O.K., the negatives. As a Slav, even heaven and a great cake have negatives.
1) The Kindle is a tactile and a visual delight. There is not, however, any need to have a nose when reading the first few pages of a newly downloaded book. If you are, like me, a person blessed with an admirable proboscis, a personal sensory instrument that you like to use in most of your new adventures, you will be disappointed to learn that you cannot stick the old Jimmy Durante between the freshly cracked pages of a book...since there are not book leaves to crack open. Perhaps in Kindle IV, there will be a button to press that will squirt out New Book smell, sort of like the aerosol cans that can be squirted in your 1999 Toyota Camry that guarantee nasal illusions of New Car Smell.
2) You can download "books" from Amazon. That's it; no other sources.
3) It is easier for me to loan you my first and second born kids, even my dog, than it is to let you borrow a tome from my tomology (???). However, with the proper references, bank account numbers, and papal dispensation it is theoretically possible that a slight chance exists that I may lend out, for a limited window of time, one of my books. With the Kindle, the only way I can "loan" you a book is by handing the Kindle over to you. The downloaded books? Nope, even if you had a Kindle of your own, there is no way that I can lend you any of the books I've downloaded. And vice versa.
4) Book prices. Keep in mind that you really never "own" the downloaded books. So, when you download a book for free (Twain, Wodehouse, and a ton of trashy romance novels), it doesn't really matter that much that if the Kindle were to go kaput or if the technology is deemed exhausted (which you know it will be). The books were FREE!
But, when you've paid some buckos ($9.99 for most books), the mindset (well, o.k. MY mindset) is a bit different. Those books will be lost once the technology goes to the next level. So...you're sinking money into things not tangible. I look at my bookshelves and see books I purchased 20-30 years ago. Aside from a "protective" layer of dust and some yellowing, the books are, to my Ever Loving Wife's consternation, still there. I know I won't be able to say the same thing for the Kindle "books". And donating Kindle "books" to a library or for taxable charitable contribution deductions? fuhgeddaboudit.
One additional note about the book prices. Some of the books currently available in the Kindle version (specifically those NOT of the best-seller variety) are just a buck or two more expensive as physical versions than as electronic ones. So, don't start using those bookshelves as firewood just yet.
5) A cheapo complaint. The Kindle is delivered in a very secure and well-packaged cardboard box. It does NOT come with a protective carrying case; that is an option that will cost you between $20-$70 dollars. For $359, you'd expect some sort of carrying case.

Some reviews are here, here, and here.

Pricing of a Kindle? Check out this post.

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It doesn't look like Canadians will be doing any Kindling in the near future, so my critical comments are rather moot and could be justifiably dismissed as sour grapes. But: "no case"? No borrowing or even proper owning of books? $400 (Cdn) for the privilege of owning (leasing?) the gadget? $9 to lease the intellectual material? The local mouldy public library is looking better all the time.
"The local mouldy public library is looking better all the time."

Yes, WP, and that mold allows you to use your olfactory senses as well.

Still....it is wicked neat to hold the Kindle and see how many organized sentences spew out with the touch of a key.
for a man who looks down on the digital media world (mostly those gadgets associated with compressed audio files) - I am surprised to read that you have acquired a kindle. you are a man who likes his books and CDs - the kindle does not seem like a gadget that would be close to the pertinent verger's heart.
I ain't dead yet, so don't be dredging through my bones to see if that Kindle has your inheritance's name on it.....

Besides, I'm not going to the Dark Side completely. There are, after all, only 250,000 books available on Kindle. That leaves a LOT OF BOOKS not available in digital form.
I am still not sold on the gadget. It looks cool, all the cool kids have one, and surely it solves world peace and hunger?

Though I usually like technological improvements, and I am mindful of the term "old codger", I think I like regular old books just fine for now.

Alas, I lost my entire sense of smell a few years back and have to rely on olfactory memory to fill in the missing nasal notes.
I too am hanging on with pride to that phrase, "old codger" (why old codger when just "Codger" works fine, I wonder? I've been around, up, through, and down below the bend a few times and have yet to encounter a "young codger". "Old codger"? Just another addition to the Dept of Redundacy.)

But, codger-dom has not lessened my curiousity (and going by all of your postings, it has most certainly not diminished your need to investigate), so entering Kindle-land has not felt, for me at least, as if I left behind the physically printed word. I, perhaps self-deluded, do not feel like a book-traitor. It's another vehicle to promote and take in writing.
Give it a whirl! You will be pleasantly surprised, I think. And, what with your sense of smell having gone south on you, there's one less sense that has to be satisfied.

i doubt they have fluvial geomorphology textbooks for my perusal available for kindle. i wasnt putting my name in for it.

I wonder if it is the more "green" option in comparison to books. (author note - i despise the phrase green at this point because it is overused and too liberally used...i digress). At first glance, it would certainly appear to be.
it would be interesting if public libraries could work their way into the kindle craze with limited-time licenses.
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