Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Kindle--not just for reading books

Last month I bought the first generation Kindle. I knew I would enjoy the ability to have a personal library at hand at any given time, and that is definitely true. After finishing several ebooks, both fiction and non-fiction, I can definitely say that for me, content is king. Not that format isn't part of the deal, it is, but if I can get books easily and store them simply and without killing trees or using up all the shelf space in my house, that's a good thing.

Does it mean I'll stop buying and reading physical books? Not a chance. The local library and our indie bookstore are still some of my favorite places to be.

Now, the kindle is more than just a way to read books. I discovered how easy it is to use the kindle to annotate a file for critique yesterday. I will be participating in an advanced critique workshop for SF&F writers that begins sunday evening. In advance of sunday's first session, we are expected to read and comment on the synopses/pitch and first chapters from our classmates' 5 novels in progress. Typically I would do that either on my computer or through printing out the texts.

The former is hard on my eyes. The latter, expensive and hard on trees. I also knew I would have 4 dedicated hours to read and comment, trapped in a car repair purgatory, waiting for my husband's new hybrid truck to be fixed. (The perils of being an early adopter.) So I paid Amazon the princely sum of 10 cents and emailed 5 sets of documents to my kindle. Within 30 seconds, they arrived, formatted for the device and off I went.

The kindle isn't designed for annotating files, but it can be used that way. It's easy (though not completely efficient) to highlight and comment on text, using a combination of the scroll wheel and the small keyboard. I wouldn't want to write the great american novel this way, but adding comments and questions worked quite well. And with the wireless radio off, the battery life on the kindle far outstrips what my laptop can do. One more bonus--I'm less likely to be distracted by all the goodies available on my computer or on the web when I'm working from the kindle.

Sure it has the experimental browser and sure I can check email, but it's just inconvenient enough that I tend to not do it. When it comes to writing discipline, this is a *good* thing. (Who knew, the kindle as an efficiency device.)

When I got home from the car dealer (sans hybrid truck, as it needed to stay for emergency surgery), I connected the usb cable to my computer, copied over the txt file with all my annotations, and I'm ready to discuss the documents on sunday night.

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