Monday, February 21, 2011

Well, check me out - all Kindle'd up!

So it finally arrived at Falaise Towers late on Sunday afternoon.  The 21st Century, that is.  A very nice chap from the Royal Mail handed over a small box in exchange for my John Hancock and I became the proud possessor of a Kindle.  Yes, I have taken the plunge and bought myself an ereader.

I’ve not always been sniffy about new technology.  Right up until I turned thirty, I was an early adopter of all things gadgety.  As a young lawyer, I was always happy to part with a few extra pounds to buy a computer with the most up-to-date spec, notwithstanding the fact that I would never in a million years need to use more than a fraction of its capacity and functionality.  I’d call it “future-proofing” and smile knowingly at my more Luddite friends and colleagues.

When it came to music, I was the guy with each new format as it came out.  Creative Audio Jukebox (a very early portable MP3 player) succeeded Mini-Disc (don’t ask) only to be superseded by the very first generation iPod, followed by 2nd generation iPod, nano-iPod, iPod Touch and now my slightly battered iPhone.  Even back in the ‘80s, I was an early adopter of CD players, replacing my trusty old record player (yes, my friends, I am THAT old) with a spanking new Sony player at university.

It all started to change in my ‘30s when it finally struck me that for every game-changing piece of sexy electronic kit, there were at least two that would prove to be pointless, useless or merely too early and soon to be surpassed.  So I learned to harness my magpie-like susceptibility to the Siren call of funky graphics, cool gimmickry and slimline matt black casings and started to wait until new gadgets had become mainstream before reaching for the wallet.

And so I witnessed the advent of the ereader in interested but restrained anticipation.  It is true that on several occasions I had to exercise great self-control to stop myself from signing up for an iPad that does nothing that my laptop and Blackberry won’t do.  What changed?  Well, oddly enough, a trip to my basement.

You see, my basement is my main book repository.  One of the walls is lined with shelves that I have colonised with my books and I can even, if Mrs Falaise isn’t looking, sneak a box of books behind the sofa down there.  The physical limits of this storage space do, however, mean that every couple of months, I have to sacrifice a few boxes of books to the local charity shop, something which never ceases to pain me as I am a natural born hoarder.  And this is where the Kindle comes in.

My brand new, ultra-slim Kindle can store up to 3,500 books, according to the good folks at Amazon.  Yes, up to 3,500 books.  I need never buy book storage again.  Literally.  As you may have gathered from the title of this blog, I may only have another 2,606 books left to read before I shuffle off this mortal coil.  Even fewer now as I’ve read a few more since starting the blog.  I have several hundred physical books in the basement, in my office and squirreled away in several other places.  When added to the 3,500 potential additions to the Kindle, I will need to live at least ten years beyond my allotted span even to require the purchase of a single other book shelf, cupboard or ereader.  I have, in fact,just completed my life’s purchases of book storage units.  I can’t deny it; it’s a slightly uncomfortable thought. 

I’d shied away from ereaders partly on the grounds that I wasn’t sure about reading from a screen and partly because I just like having books on a shelf.  As the latter is an insoluble problem, I can cope with this and I have been very pleasantly surprised with the whole Kindle reading experience.  It is especially good when standing on a packed Tube train and is well-designed for single-handed usage.

So, what are its bad points?  Well, it is just too damn easy to buy books on it.  No need to mess around trying to find a computer or having to log into accounts, with just a few clicks the book you want is downloaded and ready to go.  It’s a bit like a bookworms version of crack cocaine.

Conversely, the lack of available books can also irritate.  Although there are apparently over half a million titles available, it is surprising how often an item on my TBR list is only available in paper.  I am sure this will change over time but it currently means that there is a certain amount of randomness about the catalogue.

Overall, however, I love my new Kindle.  I am a convert.  I know that lots of (snobbish) people, especially “literary” authors sneer at ereaders but I am very happy with mine so far.  Having said that, I have had it for only 24 hours so I may change my mind before too long.  I will report back when I have had time to get used to it.


Hannah said...

Congratulations! I absolutely love your comment that ebooks are the "bookworm's version of crack cocaine"!

Falaise said...

Lifetime Reader - Thanks for the comment. I am defintely having to exercise some iron self-discipline to avoid downloading large numbers of books!

The Literary Nomad said...

Hi Falaise

I tried posting a comment here about a week ago - not sure why it hasn't appeared but anyway, I asked whether you find reading the Kindle as comfortable as reading a physical book and also what made you choose that e-reader over others? I am lloking at getting one as well and would love some feedback thanks!

Falaise said...

Literary Nomad- must have been a gltich in the system! I do find my Kindle very comfortable to read. I do have to use a slightly different hand position than with a paper book but it is very comfortable to hold and to use with one hand which is very useful on the Tube going to and from work. The screen is also very good and the e-ink is less wearing on the eyes than a back lit screen.

I chose a Kindle largely because I am not particularly technical and enjoy the ease of downloading from Amazon as well as the range of available books. Also, there is a piece of software available that will convert other ebook formats to a Kindle-compatible format.

I also knew I didn't want a back-lit screen which ruled out some others. The Nook isn't really available over here and I always think that Sony products are a bit expensive for what you actually get. I think that if I were living in the US, I would have given serious consideration to a Nook.

Hope this helps and do let me know if you get one.

The Literary Nomad said...

Thanks for that Falaise! We don;t have the Nook in Australia either which is a bit of bummer as from what I have heard it is really good! The choices are Kindle, Kobo, Sony and one another which I can't reember the name of. Think I will go with the Kindle though. I am only now considering it due to having to do a bit of travel and wanting the ease of portability. Will keep you posted and thanks again!

Falaise said...

Good luck with it. I have to travel sometimes too and it is looking like a great way of taking books with me although some of the larger books in my TBR list don't appear to be available!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I just got a Kindle for Christmas and haven't completely converted yet. It's such a wonderful idea, but I'm having a hard time picking it up instead of my actual books. I do agree that the e-ink over a back lit screen is wonderful.

Falaise said...

Avid Reader - I can see where you are coming from. I am finding that the more I use it, the moer natural it feels. Also, I have bought a leather cover which makes it look and feels like just like a leather bound journal or book.