And I must say – it tastes very good. But before I go on about the Kindle, let me start at the beginning…
I discovered eBook in 2003 and was hooked. Seriously hooked. That’s not to say I abandoned paperbacks and hard covers – my monthly bill at Amazon and Borders can attest to that – but through eBooks I’ve been able to satisfy my craving for instant gratification and discover a host of new authors and new genres that I would have missed out on otherwise. I’ve never had a problem downloading a single eBook purchase and am proud to say I’ve converted many of my friends to the format.
I’ve put off buying an eBook reader for many reasons; no universal format, conversion and loading horror stories, waiting for the newest, best, and brightest to come on the market. Instead of using a reader, I settled for reading my collection of eBooks on my computer, usually my laptop. While that wasn’t the most convenient way for me to curl upon the couch with a good book, it’s what I’ve done.
When I first heard about the Kindle my initial reaction was no. NO. NO. NO. That’s just how I am; yes or no, black and white. Then I start to think about it and weigh the pros and cons. The price tag put me off – $400 for a first generation device? Would the free delivery change in the future? Also, the idea of being tied to Amazon for my eBook purchases – or so I thought – was a turn off. Then I started to do my homework. I read the FAQ pages at Amazon, scoured hundreds of reviews, and emailed Amazon with additional questions I had (huge points for them getting back to me in less than 12 hours, huge). After I gathered the facts and compared the other devices on the market I finally took the plunge and bought a Kindle.
And then cursed myself for not buying one sooner.
So, why am I happy I drank the Kindle-Ade? (BTW, credit to Sarah at Smart Bitches for the Kindle-Ade tag – I stole it from her) Let me count the ways. I took a long hard look at my options for purchasing books. The eBooks I buy are almost exclusively by authors not published in other formats. Even though I can buy most of my favorite NYC authors in eBook I still went to the book store or bought them in paper on-line. The nearest Borders is a 44 mile round trip. At $4 a gallon for gas it costs me $10 to make a run for books. $10 in gas. To buy books at full retail (for paperbacks), as that chain typically does not discount. Yeah, there are big box stores closer but their selection is iffy at best. I bought the Kindle for $359. In a year I would have spent more than that on gas driving to the book store.
So far the device is everything it’s promised to be. User friendly is an understatement. Within 15 minutes of grabbing the box out of the UPS guy’s hand I’d downloaded my first book – J.R. Ward’s Lover Enshrined – and was on my way. The Kindle came pre-programmed for my Amazon account and ready for use. Downloading a book took less than a minute. By the end of the first week I’d bought fifteen books on my wish list and am happily reading my way through my TBR pile.
I’d heard that the device was hard to handle without accidently turning a page. By the end of the first day that was no longer a problem. I did purchase a red leather cover from Amazon that I like better than the one that came with the unit – the Kindle is secured into the cover on all four corners, the front folds back nicely so it’s comfortable to hold while reading, and the page turning problem is a non-issue. If I stop reading before a book is finished, my place is automatically saved. I have the ability to add bookmarks, make notes and save clippings for future reference. While I don’t use those features on the romances I read, they are handy tools for the non-fiction books I’ve purchased.
The e-Ink technology is very easy on the eyes – no eye strain. Being able to change the font size is a plus if needed. It took a few hours to get used to the slight flicker when I turned a page but now I don’t notice it. The unit is light weight and easy to hold. The battery life is good and charges quickly. Searching Amazon for new reading material from my Kindle is quick and efficient. The Qwerty keyboard makes typing searches – and notes – as easy as typing on a keyboard, PDA or Smartphone. Shortcut keys are available for different functions and the trackball functions/selector is easy to use.
A few months back a discussion of free sample chapters was making the blog rounds and the Kindle stepped up to the plate on that one by offering free chapters to try. The samples are downloaded as easily as the books themselves and – for me at least – have led to me buying new authors I otherwise wouldn’t have. The Save for Later/Wish List feature is nice and easy to make future purchases from. I’ve played with the dictionary and found that too is easy to use.
The idea that I’m tied to Amazon for my eBook purchases isn’t true. I can still buy from other vendors then download to the Kindle from my PC. It’s an extra step or two, but I do have the choice of where I spend my money. I haven’t done this yet but, as upcoming releases loom in the future, I’m sure I will. I can support my fellow authors at Samhain and buy from MBaM almost as easily as I can buy from Amazon. This weekend I’m going to begin converting my existing eBook library to the Kindle format. The directions are simple and the service is free. As most of my prior purchases are PDF format I’ll see how that plays out, but even if the conversion isn’t perfect I’m okay with that.
I’ve been a big time reader since I was a kid. My mom fostered my love of books, the same thing I’m doing today with my nieces. From that love of reading came a desire to write, a goal that I’ve recently accomplished and will hopefully continue with in the future. Though reading on an electronic device is different from the visceral feel of paper and binding in my hand, the experience isn’t lessened or downgraded. I was actually surprised how easy it was to forget I didn’t have a paper book in my hand.
A side benefit to the Kindle is the exposure and discussions the eBook market has gotten as a result of Amazon’s commitment to the format. Over the past few weeks I’ve read several high profile blog posts on the subject. Instead of the usual derision and skepticism on the subject of eBooks with the discussions coming down to shoddy editing, poor business practices and badly written stories, the trends in these posts and articles have been looking toward the future of the market, the impact on publishing as a whole, commitment from big time publishing houses to eBooks and interesting information on market share, all of which has been rather refreshing.
As for what I wish was different about the Kindle? There is no backlight – and that would be nice – but it was not a deterrent for me. Mass-market paperbacks aren’t backlit so I’d need a light on to read anyway. I’d like to be able to purchase several books at once – have one charge on my account if purchasing more than one book at a time – instead of each transaction being separate. And I’d like to see more of my favorite author’s backlists available on the Kindle – something I’m pretty sure will happen in the future. Another thing I’d like to see is a greater breakdown of genres/subjects for searching Kindle books – whether on-line or on the Kindle itself.
All in all, I’m very pleased with my purchase. Now that you know what I think on the subject, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are. Do you have an eBook reader? What kind? What made you buy it? How do you feel about reading from a hand-held device instead of paper? What do you think about the Kindle, Amazon, and current discussions of eBooks and the publishing industry?