When the Kindle first came out, I was aghast at the whole idea of an electronic reader. I love books, the way they feel, the way they look, and even the way they smell. I recall vividly being in grade school and watching my teachers with anticipation as they opened boxes of books from Scholastics and that new book smell as it wafted out into the class. Even today, I love to walk into a book store and be surrounded by all the new books — although today’s big box book stores tend to smell more like coffee than books.
My teenage daughter — of course, teens are all about technology — was the first person I knew to express an interest in getting a Kindle, but this is when they first came out and were nearly $400. That was an easy no. Plus, I had heard that the pages took forever to load and the technology was clumsy and made reading a chore.
I started to change my mind, however, while on a long trip to a foreign country. Two of my fellow travelers had Kindles and they kept espousing its many advantages over the paper books I had dragged along with me. And I won’t lie. I was jealous that they were holding one relatively slim object, while I was toting about seven books — hardbacks and paperbacks — in my backpack and luggage. I was still, however, leery of the technology. Didn’t it still take a long time for page downloads? What if I needed to go back in the book to look something up? Isn’t that much easier to do in a regular book? No and no were their answers to those questions.
Still… I wasn’t sure I could give up my paper books, not quite yet. Besides, the price of the Kindle had gone down, but it was still up near the $300 range. Even my fellow traveler who loved his Kindle thought it would take years before he would make back the cost of his E-reader in his savings on books (typically $9.99 each).
Then the prices began to fall for the Kindle and a couple more trips with backpacks full of books finally convinced me that it was time to break the paper book habit and a sleek white Kindle finally entered my life.
So now that I own a Kindle, what do I think of it? It is a wonderful little piece of technology that definitely has its advantages.
One of the reasons I wanted to get a Kindle was because I read a lot while exercising on the treadmill or elliptical, and it was hard to keep a book open on the machine without holding it in place with at least one hand — which kind of defeats the purpose of the elliptical. Additionally, a book that had a small typeface was impossible to read on the elliptical, so I was usually stuck reading gossip mags. With the Kindle, I could change the font size so that it was big enough to read while working out and the Kindle (mine is in a protective slip-proof jacket) fits perfectly on the exercise machine ledges.
Another Kindle advantage — if I don’t understand a word in a book, I can move the Kindle’s cursor in front of it and a built-in dictionary will give me the meaning immediately. With a paper book, I would always feel like I was missing out if I didn’t know a word and a dictionary wasn’t handy. I would try to mark the word and look it up later, but there were times when I didn’t have a pen or I couldn’t mark a word because the book wasn’t my own.
The Kindle also makes looking up words, people or terms that had been previously used in a book pretty easy to do. Because there are many times, I can only read sporadically, I often forget who a person was in a book and how he related to the narrative. The Kindle has a search feature that allows a reader to search for terms and names in a book.
I also love that the Kindle remembers where you were in the book and automatically returns to that area. Another nice feature, Kindle allows you to bookmark a section that you would like to return to frequently.
Are there cons? There are a few, but surprisingly not many. I do find that if you want to go back and forth a few pages, there is no shortcut for that. Because you can change the font size and thus page sizes are changed, Kindle does not use page numbers. It does use location numbers but they are large and often hard to remember.
It takes a little time to get used to using all of Kindle’s features. You’ll hit the wrong button and end up in the online store or use the wrong search feature a few times before you start to get the hang of it. But once you do get used to the buttons and features, the use of the Kindle almost becomes second nature.
Another con, in a way: I ended up buying more books. I’m actually reading more. I can prop it up (because the jacket I bought for it keeps it from skidding) and read it while I’m cooking, et cetera.
Overall, I love my Kindle and understand why those who had bought them before I got one had encouraged me to get one. With prices falling constantly, E-Readers, like Nook, Audible and Kindle, in general, are becoming much more affordable than in the past.