I have not been interested in eReaders. I didn’t want a Kindle, a Sony, a Nook. I assumed I’d wait for an Apple reader which will be vastly superior to anything before it, and cost a lot more. BUT– suddenly, at 6:00 on December 23rd–I changed my mind. Sam ordered my Kindle with overnight delivery, it arrived on Christmas Eve, and I quite like it.
No, it will never replace “real books” for me. It’s not a good substitute for books with color illustrations since it’s black and white only. [BTW, the Nook has color book covers in the strip across the bottom, but the text of the books themselves is black and white, so even though it touts “color” it’s used in a limited–but pretty-way.] But as I’m surrounded by so darned many “real books,” many that I’ve never gotten around to reading, this became more and more tempting, and now that I have it, I’m very glad.
Here are some reasons why.
ONE: Their customer service/tech support ROCKS. If I were more tech-savvy I wouldn’t have needed to call to get help with an upgrade. The minor issue with my account that caused my first book purchase not to go through was a nit, quickly settled, but still, it required a phone call. So here is the deal. First call, Christmas Eve in the evening. Less than one minute wait. Polite, informative, fast. Second call, Christmas night. Polite, informative, chatty, fast. And yes, I’ve had enough issues with various tech support entities in the past decade or so that I will totally be influenced by good tech support, so am mentioning this right up front. A million Kindles were mailed during the Christmas season, maybe more, and most of them were probably opened and activated on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Even so, each of my calls was answered in less than a minute and handled extremely well.
TWO: Space saving. The “too many books” issue. Sam has encouraged me to get an eReader of some sort to get rid of some books. And suddenly, that idea seemed very comfortable to me. Mind you, many of the books I have aren’t available yet, and it would also mean buying them again, but this is starting at a place of, not buying as many new books in paper form. There will always be books I want in paper form, the ones I love, the ones I want to be able to see on my shelves, friends both old and new. But I also have more books than I want to admit that I bought and haven’t read. Someday I will. But, somehow I never am in the right mood to read that particular book and these many, many books just get moved from one stack to another, from one box to another. My Kindle will eliminate most of that, because it holds thousands of books, and for two other reasons, which follow.
THREE: Too damned easy. While my Kindle was out of sight overnight Christmas Eve, waiting to be a “gift” the next morning, I went online to buy a book or two to put on it. I didn’t want an empty Kindle. I also wanted to have a few books on it so that when I passed it around Christmas day, people could see how it works. I almost bought a book, but realized I wasn’t sure if it was a book I wanted to read right this minute, and there might be something else I’d rather have instead and–I noticed the “sample chapter” option. I downloaded the first chapter free and figured people could see how it works, and I’d read later and decide whether to download the entire book. Which led to me downloading 7 or 8 sample chapters (they’re free, why not?) which totally tickled me, that I was already loading up my Christmas gift which I haven’t even received yet. So in some cases I’m going to actually save money by not buying a book at all, because I am pretty sure that some of these sample chapters are going to end up like these stacks of books, waiting for me to get around to reading them, until I lose interest. Or I may start reading and say, “Never mind,” and delete. Money saved is a good thing. Space saved and trees saved are equally good or even better things.
SIDEBAR: In case you aren’t aware, the Kindle works wirelessly. You don’t have to hook it up to a computer. It has a wireless connection straight to the Amazon store that will allow you to purchase and download books wherever you are in the world. Dangerous, when you consider the impulse shopping that could result, when one click, and you have a new book on your Kindle 60 seconds later. (I seem to have subverted that by impulse-downloading sample chapters, instead.)
FOUR: Free books. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Complete Adventures of Peter Pan are public domain books I got from the Kindle store. The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, The Celtic Twilight, A Popular History of Ireland, also public domain books I got from the Kindle store. I found about ten last night that I downloaded as potentially helpful research sources for my trilogy. And I’ve discovered that I can import other books that I downloaded elsewhere into my Kindle so they are at my fingertips, too. ALSO, Kindle has many free books that are recent. I have no idea how and why that is negotiated and wonder what the author and publisher get out of it, but for example, I downloaded two free books that I would not have bought anyway, The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith being one of them, and also being the book that my sister is now going to buy, having started reading it yesterday on my Kindle. There are a lot of free books available that are recent. Since I’m not looking for casual “oh this might be good” reading–no time for that–I just skimmed through, but a lot of people could really go to town finding all sorts of good stuff to read for free.
FIVE: Girl Scout Cookie books. When I sold my first book, one of Sam’s friends asked me where it would be for sale and said he’d go buy three or four. “Three or four?” I gasped. He said, “Well, when people around the office are selling girl scout cookies I always buy several boxes. It seemed like the least I could do for you.” The idea was sweet but kind of astounding, that he was going to go buy several romance novels that he would never read, because he knew me. Many years later I was at the Austin Film Festival and Callie Khouri was on a panel where she urged people, “Support the kind of movie you love. Opening weekend is so vital. Even if you don’t have time to go see it, call the theater and buy a ticket or two, or buy them online. Don’t pick them up, don’t use them, but let your support help the good movies have good opening weekends.” Whether you subscribe to the “Girl Scout Cookie/Callie Khouri” philosophy of supporting writers and books and movies or not, if you know many writers, you may do something similar. You buy books because friends wrote them, even though you may not want to read them. Or because you’re invited to a book signing. Or for other reasons. And then you end up with these books making you feel guilty because you aren’t reading them. (Okay, maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but it does to me.) Now, most of those book purchases are going to go on my Kindle. Then I don’t have to see them taking up space on my bookshelves. Plus, they will often be much cheaper. So I can support writers and the publishing industry I love w/o gaining weight or adding to the piles of books in my office. I call this a win.
SIX: Adjustable font size. Yes, my eyes appreciate the fact that I can enlarge the font.
SEVEN: And more about public domain books. This is more specific to me as a writer and researcher. I mentioned those free, old public domain books I downloaded. I have a number of those on my bookshelf right now that I downloaded from Google Books and then printed. Downloading them to my Kindle may be a halfway house. I may skim, read, etc. and if I find one that’s going to be particularly helpful that I want to highlight, post-it, mark up, then print it out anyway. But having all of these on this device in my purse is going to be very handy, because there are many times when I am away from home that I would like to be able to choose between reading a century-old history book, a novel, or something else to pass the time. Believe me, sometimes I have four or five books in my shoulder bag for that reason–because I’m not quite sure what I’ll be in the mood to read, or how long I might end up being gone. So I may end up printing out some anyway, but I have some on my shelf right now that I never would have printed out if I’d had a better way to peruse them first. And the Kindle is going to be much easier for me to use that way than my computer, and that will vary for other people, but for me, it’s already proven itself so.
EIGHT: The keyboard at the bottom. I haven’t used it much yet, but it will be easy to make notes, etc. as I’m reading because there are real keys at the bottom. They are tiny, but spaced widely apart so that I can type in information as needed. I like that a lot and it will end up being important.
So, bottom line, after about 24 hours, I’m very pleased with my Kindle. Whether or not you’re interested, or think they’re worth the money, or want to wait to see what Apple might come up with, or wait for later generations is up to you. You may decide a Sony or a Nook is more to your liking.
But I’m more than thrilled with my choice.
I’ll probably post pics later, but for now, here is a pic I found on the intertubes. There are several “covers” that rotate through when it is powered down. These are two of them. It will give you an idea of screen image, until I can find something better.