Friday, March 13, 2009

I still love books, but the kindle is cool

After lusting after an e-reader since holding an early sony version a few years ago, I just bought a kindle. It was only partly an impulse purchase. Even though I'm a tech-nerd and love gadgets of almost all variety, I couldn't justify spending nearly $400. for a book reading device. But I am finding myself reading more and more content from my computer screen and it's an enormous strain on my eyes.

When I was editing "MindBlind" and "The House of Many Doors" this summer, I ended up lugging around huge binders full of paper copy. Heavy, awkward, and tree-killing. Being able to have the manuscripts in an easily readable electronic form would have been a god-send.

But still, I held out. I have a laptop, a tablet pc, and a palm. Did I really need *another* gadget? After all, I can read ebooks on the palm, albeit with a small screen that has the same transreflective problems as my computers.

But then the kindle 2 came out. And many of my fellow early gadget adopters were selling their kindle 1's to finance their tech habits. I picked up a kindle 1 on ebay this week.

I just read my first book all the way through on the device.

As promised, the look of the text on the screen is just like text on a page. Page turning did take some getting used to. It's not easy to flip through pages, other than one page at a time (though you can flip sections of pages and use the goto function) and the nature of the e-ink is that there is a brief 'flash' on the screen when the page turns. There is also a noticeable time lag between pressing the turn page button and the time the new page is displayed. In reading a paper book, you scan across 2 pages before needing to change the page. Here, you must actively turn pages (not scroll) at the bottom of every page.

These are not deal breakers, but the experience of ebook reading is a little different than reading a physical book.

I still got lost in the story and its characters.* The magic is in the content, not the media.

I'm heading out of town at the end of the week and I can take dozens of books with me in the space of a trade paperback sized package.

That's pretty cool.

Happy reading!

*The book I bought to read on my Kindle was Nalini Singh's "Angels' Blood." I enjoyed it tremendously, even without the new book smell or the feel of pages under my fingers.

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