The BIG Question 2: Pros & Cons of The Kindle!

Back in November, I got my knickers in a twist about the kindle, and posted a blog about my disdain. I felt like my happy wormy world of musty libraries and beautiful books was being elbowed out the way in favour of something sanitised and anonymous. However, at the time, I was talking from the position of someone who not only never seen a kindle in real life (!) but also hadn’t really spoken with anyone with one, about the merits. The lovely KrisAtomic commented with some really interesting arguements against some of my concerns but I still thought I remained the last person in the world who’d add a kindle to their owned items list.

Until, I got one for Christmas.

I felt a sort of proud love and affection for my kindle from the moment I opened it, which I hadn’t expected! In the same way I am fond of my favourite books, I felt really excited and protective of my kindle. And instantly I think the main feature that I’d felt icky about, was not there… Which was that I expected the kindle to be backlit. Like an iphone or ipad, I thought the screen would be glaring and artificial looking. I feel like I spend enough with my square eyes fixed to my PC at work/Laptop/Phone that I didn’t want reading to become another eye-straining experience. But the kindle screen looks so close to paper, you can barely believe it isn’t! It looks like you could just peel the paper layer off. But it’s just a very clever form of screen which reflects printed paper as authentically as possible. This means that the experience on your eyes is just the same as reading a real book, and also it is just as readable in bright sunshine on holiday etc.

Now I have had my kindle for almost a month I thought I’d just do a bit of a run-down of the Pros (and Cons, yes there are still a few! I’m not an absolute convert)

Pros

+The kindle is SO light. It’s probably not much heavier than my iPhone! And very thin and streamlined. This is fantastic for two reasons; first being that I am no longer suffering shoulder strain from carrying round a stack of heavy paper backs. And second, reading a thick book can get mega uncomfortable. How many times do you have to shift position, move around and lie down/sit up/stretch out just to comfortabley be able to hold the book still enough to read?! Reading is meant to be relaxing… but it’s hard to relax when your arm is throbbing under the weight of a book and the pages won’t stay back when the weight of pages is massively on one side or the other. The kindle obviously does not have this problem and it makes the reading experience so pleasurable!

+The battery life is phenomenal. I think we are use to machines that do everything (camera, email, phone, games etc) and so of course the battery juice get sucked down to nothing in a matter of hours. Because the kindle is black & white, and simply has one function, the battery life is unbelievable. I charged the kindle for 3 hours when I first got it. It then lasted over a WEEK and that was with me reading 30-60 minutes a day on it. Wow!

+The navigation is very simple. Click a button for forward, click a button for back. Also other features which I love about ‘real’ books include knowing how far you are through the book; well the kindle displays this in percentage so you can always tell. Although it does make me become a bit compulsive and addicted to reaching ‘just 10 more percent’ leading to me missing my tube stop and staying up far too late!

+It’s really easy to download books. Perhaps it’s easier because I have the amazon kindle, and it’s literally just one click to get on the kindle store, and since your bank details are already saved if you have an amazon account (LETHAL!!) you can search for your book and in another click you’ve bought it. Through the power of freakish technology, by the time you’ve gone back to your kindle homepage…. the title has been delivered.

+Cost. There are absolutely loads of free books on the kindle, in particularly classics and older novels. This will help the calibre of my reading habits no end!

+It has really cute ‘screen savers’ for when your kindle is sleeping in between uses. See the fish at the top and the birds below. It makes me smile everytime I turn it on or off. Although some of the more literary themed author portraits are down right creepy and I’m looking at you Emily Dickinson !

+There are lots of nice cases out there to a) stop your kindle getting scratched or smudged and b) maybe make it look a bit less hi-I’m-a-shiney-piece-of-stealable-technology when using it in public! Mine is a hot pink (of course) leather number from amazon.

Cons

-I know it’s gross, but like most leisure activities, whilst reading I like to eat whilst doing it! Pretty much all my books have crumbs embedded in the spine, mucky finger prints on the corners and the odd splash of coffee and stuck together pages. There is no way I am getting food or greasy fingers anywhere near my kindle… which does cut out rather alot of time when I’d like to be reading, such as munching cereal in the morning. This probably isn’t a problem for less-messy kindle owners who actually have brain/hand co-ordination!

-Bath reading. Again, I’m a BIG fan. But trying to read my kindle in the bath turns into some sort of Olympic acrobatics routine as I stretch to hold the kindle out of the bath but keep my body in there. Not relaxing! I know Kris mentioned you can put the kindle in zip lock, but I’m still very unsure! I have found these more jazzy creations which might do a better job and also mean I can spill food on it to my hearts content.

-Cost. Although the cost of a lot of books seems to be half the price of a paperback, for new-er titles you can be paying in excess of Β£10 which still feels mighty steep.

-Comics look rubbish on them! I mean they are readable, but very pixelated. Maybe this will improve with time as I’ve noticed there aren’t many titles available at the moment anyway.

-Beautiful covers! I love book covers (yes yes I know, but asif everyone doesn’t judge by them + blurb anyway!) and with the kindle you don’t really see the books artwork. Also, I love having a right sticky beak when I’m on the train/bus/tube at what everyone is reading. If everyone becomes a robotic kindle-head like me… then this will be eradicated. And that would make commuting a less fun place.

So there we have it. As you can see the pros outweigh the cons and I am some what besotted. However I would say I am still reading 2 ‘real’ life books for ever 1 kindle book. That’s because I still love the reading experience of your average book and won’t be quitting that anytime soon, so for now they work in happy unison together and I can see now it doesn’t have to be a case of either or.

Did any of you get a kindle for Christmas? What are your thoughts?

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  1. sarahmia’s avatar

    I got one for Christmas (also from my boyfriend, altho I’d begged him for one for about 4 months so it wasn’t so much of a surprise, heh) and I LOVE it.

    & I’m like you, I love real books. The smell, the feel, the covers. Seeing them all lined up on my bookshelves. I must admit tho, for sheer usability the Kindle wins. It’s so easy to read – I took it to Prague when we went for the weekend and read tons of books, it was ace.

    I’ll still buy real books and check out books from the library (I read 100 last year, if I bought them all on the Kindle I’d be bankrupt) – but it’s great to have the option.

    Top tip: keep an eye on the “top 100 free” book list on Amazon – they normally put a couple of new ‘non classics’ on there for a limited time for free, and it changes fairly regularly. I’ve got a few great ones that way so it’s worth checking out πŸ™‚

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  2. ellio100’s avatar

    ooh i’ve been thinking of getting my boyfriend one for this birthday and i think you may have convinced me. He really only reads classics so it would save a lot of print. Thing is, he only really reads in French (apparently it’s more lyrical) so I think I’ll check out what it’s like ordering french e-books on it from the uk amazon first.
    I love the case you have, I’m a total sucker for tech in soft leather cases!

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  3. Beth’s avatar

    My boyfriend has an I-River story…. I have attempted to read books on it and for me it just can’t compete with the real book-reading experience – all I can say is I tried, but technology and ease was not enough to win me over this time and I resignedly raise my hand as a book snob in this case!

    I can absolutely see the benefits of it though; like you was pleasantly surprised with the ‘e-ink’ screen, and can see how ace it would be to take lots of books on holiday without the weight of lots of actual books but for now I just can’t get past the smell, feel and look of the real deal. I’m not eschewing it altogether though – we have the Harry Potter series audiobook on there and I have spent many a night being lulled to sleep by Stephen Fry’s lilting tones!!!

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  4. Tamsin’s avatar

    I love mine, as you know! Although I definitely need to buy a case as I’ve already scratched the screen quite badly πŸ™ It’s not noticable under most lights but I could kick myself for it! (I got embaressingly upset about it no longer being perfect). Totally agree with you on the reading in the bath front, but this is now where I read my monthly copy of SFX magazine instead (I’m so cool)

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  5. Sonya’s avatar

    I’ve never used one, but I’m a stubborn one when it comes to them. I just love real books! I will admit their convenience, though. I’m traveling soon, and it kills me not to be able to bring any books with me.

    Also, I’ve seen some people put theirs in plastic bags to read them in the bathtub. I’m not sure if you’d want to give it a shot, but figured I’d throw the idea out there for you. πŸ™‚

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  6. Jessamy’s avatar

    Interesting to read! I’d have trouble with the bath and food thing too. When I’ve played with one, I didn’t really like the flashing thing it does when you turn the page and the magic ink does its thing, and the comics thing is sad (though I’m surprised you can get comics at all!). Overall sounds cool, and I love the screensaver-looks-so-real thing but not near the top of my list of technology to buy when I have money πŸ™‚

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  7. Helen’s avatar

    2 of my librarian colleagues got kindles for Christmas! I was the first though to get an e-reader πŸ˜‰ I got a Sony reader though because I wanted to be able to download library ebooks from Liverpool libraries (my work don’t offer them just yet). I love it though. Some books aren’t available in ebook format though and I’m always seeing books I wanna read in work so I’m not 100% ebook converted yet. They are great for travelling though!

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  8. Amy’s avatar

    I love reading, but I am VERY wary of the Kindle. I think I actually need to get one in my hands before I commit to it.

    I think in a few years when it has been made sooper-dooper, then I’ll dive right in and never look back. Now I’ll stick to the library. But I am extremely jealous of you for having one.

    Does that even make sense? I want one and I don’t want one?

    Meh. Makes sense to me.

    Your pink case is gorgeous though. I kinda want one just for that.

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  9. Hayles’s avatar

    I have an iPad, which I’ve found quite nice to read on. It annoys me that e-books can be the same price or even more expensive than the physical copies – I’d love to see something like the triple play Blu Rays (Blu Ray, DVD and digital copy) for books.
    I like having physical copies of books, but I find I can read things a lot quicker with the iPad as its a lot easier to carry (Theres no way I could have taken Lord Sugars biog about with me in physical form!) It was also quite handy when I went on holiday, I was able to put a few copies of magazines on there which would have taken up quite a bit of space in my luggage πŸ™‚

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  10. blogmywiki’s avatar

    Fantastic summary of the pros and cons of Kindle. I decided yesterday that the bath problem was the most serious. Come on Amazon – waterproof Kindle! Get on it!

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