A Tree Hugger for Book Lovers: Amazon’s Kindle
Things I love about my Kindle:
- Instant gratification. I can order and download an entire book in just a few seconds.
- The dictionary. I don’t have to put the book down, or even turn the page, to access the dictionary. I select the line the word is on, and Kindle gives definitions for every word on the line (since it’s not possible to select a single word).
- Six — count ‘em — SIX choices of print size! Some people I know can read tiny print, but not this baby boomer. With the Kindle, I can adjust the print size so that reading is comfortable. And it’s good to know that I’ll be able to increase the size of the print as I get older. Most books don’t come in large print editions. With the Kindle, my choices will never be limited, no matter how thick my glasses get.
- Convenient size. It’s lightweight and fits easily into my purse (or a briefcase, or backpack, for that matter).
- Portable. I can take it with me anywhere — airplanes, dental appointments, the pharmacy, anywhere I might have a few moments to read. (And it’s much more pleasant than staring at the walls, reading bad magazines, or watching other people staring at the walls, reading bad magazines, or staring back at me.)
- No dog ears. I can’t lose my place. I don’t have to put in a bookmark or dog ear a page to find where I left off. The trick is to always turn the Kindle off when closing it. Then it always opens to the last page I was reading.
- Long-lasting battery. A full charge (overnight) usually lasts through an entire book.
- Variety. Just about any reading material is available. There are newspapers, magazines, books, even textbooks and cookbooks available on Kindle.
- Free samples. I’ve read so many books, and have so many favorite authors, that I have (an embarrassing number of times) purchased a book I have already read. Rather than return it, I end up giving it to someone (who may or may not throw it away without reading it), or donate it to the library. Amazon provides a sample of each book for Kindle readers. (That’s not necessarily so for every hard copy book they sell.) I get to read the first chapter or the first few pages without buying the book, so I don’t get “stuck” buying something twice. And, I get to experience new authors without commitment to the purchase.
- Reads like paper. The screen isn’t back lit like a computer monitor. I need light to read, but it’s easy on the eyes — feels just like reading paper pages.
- It doesn’t hurt my hands. I have arthritis. And holding the pages of a book open — especially a new book — can be quite painful, if I’m reading for a long time.
Things that are not perfect (or I have not figured out how to use) on Kindle:
- No definitions for foreign words. So far I’ve only been able to get English definitions. Maybe there’s a way to get definitions for foreign words, but I haven’t found it.
- Poor quality cover. I suppose it protects the Kindle if you drop it, but the corners do not fit perfectly and it slips out rather often. Also the elastic strap gets stretched out. I sprang for the better case at about 50 dollars. (You can buy it on Amazon, but it is NOT a Kindle item. It ships separately.) The quality is superior, it’s more comfortable, and it comes in several colors. Even more important, the Kindle fits in snugly without slipping out.
- More features than I know how to use. There’s a way to use the Kindle for email and on line browsing, but I haven’t bothered to learn this. I really only bought it for reading, not as a laptop. (Someone else might see this as an advantage, but I don’t really want all those added features.)
- Frequent resets required. When the charge gets low, it can freeze up. It’s simple enough to open the back cover and reset it with a paperclip. But this happens to me a lot (I tend to read for hours at a time), which can be annoying, especially if I forget to keep a paperclip handy.
- There’s no going back. It’s difficult to “turn back” ten pages or two chapters to look at something you want to see again, though the Kindle it does have “bookmarks” that you can use to mark passages or chapters. So if you’re someone who goes back often, you might want to mark every chapter, so that you can go back more easily.
And a few random comments:
Here’s one frustrating problem that I did manage to solve: When you order a sample, then buy the book, it won’t open to where you left off; it opens at the beginning. Every page has line numbers at the bottom. If you note these when you close the sample, you can “go to location” of that line after you download the whole book, and start where you left off.
Oh, and then there’s the price. At $359 (as of today), it’s not an impulse buy for most people, if you only read a few books a year. Newly released Kindle books are usually $9.99 — compared to $20 or more (plus shipping) for hard copies. But if you buy as many books in a year as I do, it saves a fair amount of money.
I’ve read complaints that the screen gets scratched, but I am very careful not to abuse my Kindle. I keep the cover on and have never had a problem. (Yes, I have knocked it off the table a few times, but since the cover is always on, it never gets damaged.)
All in all, the Kindle is PERFECT for people who LOVE to READ. I can sit out on my patio, read a book, and look at the beautiful trees in my yard without feeling like I’ve killed their children.
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