It was a Kindle Christmas at my house (along with many others it seems). I had not asked for a Kindle and have had mixed feelings about ebooks for sometime now. But there it was, looking up at me expectantly. So I picked it up and started to play around with it. I will say it was the easiest piece of new technology to get up and running I have ever encountered. Although it was not yet registered, it was easy to do so since I already had an Amazon.com account. Within minutes after it was charged I was downloading my first Kindle purchase — a London travel guide to help me plan an upcoming trip. I read a bit of the guide and thought about how much easier it would be to travel with the light weight Kindle rather than a heavy travel guide. Of course I missed the color and the maps were almost impossible for me to read. Still I liked the idea of traveling with it.
After that it was a single issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer. This was to show my Dad how it worked and to allow him the rare pleasure of reading the sports page from a paper that does not deliver in our area. I then downloaded the Washington Post so my Mom could read the editorial page. Now my Mom is not really a technology person so the fact that she liked it impressed me.
By Sunday I knew I had to try to read a novel to see what that was like. Reading is a pleasure for me on many levels. The Kindle was not able to deliver on all of them but I did read a novel from start to finish between Sunday and Monday (I had the day off). It was an easy read, the kind of paperback that gets picked up in airports everyday. It was cheaper than most paperbacks which was a definite plus. Being able to select and download it via a wireless connection that comes with the Kindle was another plus. The fact that Kindle content is not allowed to be lent via libraries is a definite negative for me though.
The navigation was fairly easy and when I got up to check on the laundry it never lost my page — both strong pluses. But I am a fast reader and it felt like I was hitting the next page button constantly. So sipping my tea or grabbing the occasional Christmas cookie was challenging. Lighting was adequate but I kept wishing the screen was brighter. But in truth the technology worked just fine. It was easy to use and the content was inexpensive.
So why didn’t I feel like I enjoyed the book as I normally would have? In part, I guess, because the technology over-rode the content. That should fade over time. But I kept feeling like something was missing. The tactile part of reading was absent, no pages to turn, no paper between my fingers — I missed that. And, perhaps, I missed that something intangible that is a part of reading for me. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, talks about the Kindle in the latest Newsweek and discusses how the ebook will replace the printed book. Maybe he’s right. But for me it won’t be for a while yet!
I’ll be trying a couple more novels to see if the experience changes but my sense of the Kindle is that I will use it (and be glad of it!) when I travel and am reading as a way to pass time, or for things like travel guides. But when I want the experience of getting lost in a good book, I will still want the reading technology that has served me so well for so long.
…but I think I’ll be adding this to my personal library:
Here’s an excerpt from the above review:
Librarians don’t often receive the kind of ‘pat on the back’ that other professionals get from recipients of their services; here in book form is the appreciation that information professionals have long needed and long deserved, Marilyn Johnson’s THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, (ISBN: 9780061431609; Harper; On Sale: 2/2/2010).
For those of you following the mobile market, you might find this of interest:
At the ListenNJ meeting hosted by InfoLink earlier this week we were discussing adding e-books in the epub format to the ListenNJ collection. I think that is a great idea.
The following article is very interesting and touches on the same subject.
Did you see this in Time Magazine? This Blog is run by 2
librarians in Michigan. I’ve been aware of it for a while now and
occasionally check their titles against our catalog. How often do
I find we own one of these items? I’m not saying!
I loved this review, not only of Dickens, but of reading and formats:
Do you see yourself here? I haven’t tried the ipod yet — but have been thinking about the Kindle. And I am a devoted fan of the book (hard cover and paperback) the CD and the MP3. Each has its place in my reading repertoire.
Here’s another article on the value of public libraries. It’s from Cincinnati but it works for us as well. I thought it was very well written:
More news from OCLC. Last week they annnounced they will be taking WorldCat Local to the next level and offering library automation services. Although the circulation and acquistions functionality have not yet hit beta test, the OPAC offered by WorldCat local has definitely sparked some interest. The marketplace has gotten very interesting in the last year or so.
The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is seeking comments on their draft report.
What are your information needs? We need your input
In today’s media environment – with so many newspapers cutting back on editorial staff, and online media becoming more ever-present each day – do you have the information you need to accomplish your personal goals and to be an effective citizen? The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy and PBS Engage have teamed up to explore the issues around each citizen’s information needs, and we would like to hear from you.
* Where do you find your information? Newspapers? Online? Television? Radio?
* In your local community, what kinds of information do you need to inform the decisions you make and improve your understanding of the community in which you live?
* How can local governments improve public access to the information communities need?
* Do you think everyone in your community has access to the networks they need (online or in-person) to find important information?
* How would you improve the quality of information available to the general public?