Thursday, January 28, 2010


I got a new Kindle for my birthday.  I loved my first generation Kindle, but not for its appearance.  This one, however, is pretty enough to bling out.  What you see above: custom designed Gelaskin and a padded case from Lollington on Etsy.

So far, I love my new Kindle although the user interface is different and I miss the Gen1 content manager.  I bought it when the hype about the then-unnamed iPad was at a fever pitch, and a part of me wondered if I'd regret buying a new Kindle when (according to rumor, at least) Apple was so heavily pregnant with the Messiah of ereaders.

The answer?  Nope, no regrets.  I read books, and the matte, electronic ink screens of ereaders from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony et al is much better for sustained, long-form reading than a full-color, backlit LED.   If my media of choice were magazines, newspapers, and blogs I'd probably prefer the iPad.  For a lot of people, that's what they consume and that's what they should buy.  

I say this a lot but maybe I haven't said it here: when I first bought my Kindle, I thought I'd only use it for trashy novels.  Books that I didn't want to keep and cherish, books I didn't want to display on my shelves, books whose covers I didn't feel like exposing on the subway to judgy, judgy strangers.

I have been seriously surprised to discover how much I prefer it to a paper copy.  It always fits in my purse.  The screen always flickers on to just the right page.  It's always the same weight, whether I'm reading a novella or a doorstop.  I can hold it, and turn pages, with one hand.  I can buy books while waiting to board my flight at an airport.  I can buy a new release without making a sidetrip to the bookstore.  I love getting book samples, and being able to read them at my leisure - instead of hunting for an empty chair at a bookstore (they are always all occupied), or sitting on the floor (I think this bothers other people more than it bothers me, but a lot of other people getting a little bothered does add up).  I don't have to worry about cracking the spine or bending the cover while reading those first few pages, and the samples usually include a full chapter or more - I'd feel guilty reading that far into an unpurchased book at a bookstore.  I love having 10 or 15 samples in my menu, so when I finish a book I can instantly dip into another - exactly the book I'm in the mood for at that exact moment in time  (you know how sometimes you put a movie on your Netflix queue because you can't wait to watch it, but when it arrives the next day you are inexplicably in the mood for a different kind of film?  You ordered a comedy and want a drama; you ordered a thriller and feel like a rom-com, etc., and then it's just not as fun to watch the movie you couldn't wait to see the night before.  Like that, but with books, and instant gratification).  I love being able to juggle multiple books at once - something I never used to do (this may not be a positive side-effect, but I like it).

I've dabbled in bookbinding.  I take pleasure in a well-designed cover, a well-chosen font, a layout that gives the text just enough room to breathe.  I enjoy books as objects.  But I don't fetishize them.  I don't read for the experience of holding a pretty paper product.  I read for the content, and when I weigh up all the pros and cons there's no doubt about it: reading on the Kindle is just plain better.  

So that's that.  Now I read everything I can on the Kindle.  I read Middlemarch on my Kindle.  I read The Great Deluge on my Kindle.  I read Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy on my Kindle.  Given the choice, I will pick the Kindle every time.  

No comments: