Friday, November 19, 2010

My New Kindle

It took me a long time to succumb to the wiles of an e-reader. I’m a traditionalist (read: old), and I like the feel of the paper and the ink on it. I like how new paperbacks smell differently from new hardcovers, and how the smell evolves as the book ages, so you can tell it’s a new book or an old book with your eyes closed. I like the idea of a book providing a connection all the way back to Gutenberg, how I was looking the same symbols on a paper page as had Sir Thomas More, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Raymond Chandler.

Then I looked more deeply into Kindles for my mother, whose eyesight now limits her to large print books, or a cumbersome magnification process that binds her to the kitchen table if she wants to read. Kindles, as you may know, can magnify text many times. I bought her the big version and she fell in love with it.

In doing my research, I found that a Kindle had a great benefit to me, as well. There’s a lot of stuff available for it that isn’t in print on paper. Old books, newer books that have gone out of print, and now, books that were created just for the Kindle. (Apologies to other e-readers and their advocates. I have a Kindle, so that’s what I’m riffing on. Insert the name of your favored device as appropriate.) Collections that exist nowhere else. Hopefully, e-readers will one day eliminate the need for books to be of a certain length, lest the purchaser feel cheated. No longer will stories comfortably told in 180 pages have to be stretched to 300. Just sell it electronically for half the price.

My first purchases are good examples. Two collections from the contributors to collaborative blogs I read daily. (Terminal Damage from the writers at Do Some Damage and Fresh Kills, from the contributors at The Kill Zone. A collection that came from one of patti Abbott’s flash fiction challenges. (Discount Noir.) An out of print book I’ve long wanted to read. (Adrian McKinty’s Dead I Well May Be.) A collection of Dashiell Hammett stories I don’t think is available in paper, certainly not for $5.00.

So I joined the 21st Century. I consider the Kindle a complement to my books; I’ll never stop reading books. It will make travel a lot easier, and will help to solve what is becoming an urgent space issue in my office, though I expect I will occasionally buy paper copies of books I first read on Kindle. There’s something about the tactile feeling of a favorite.


The Daring Novelist said...

Congratulations! I love real books, and I will buy a good hardback of any ebook I fall in love with (if I can find one) but I've been reading mainly ebooks for longer than the Kindle has been around.

They're so convenient. I used to read on a Palm, but now I read on my iPod Touch (which has lots of reading apps including one for Kindle). I carry it with me everywhere. And I have a huge library of books with me at all times. And I can get more any time I'm within range of wi-fi.

Charlieopera said...

I told you so ... I'd be lost without my kindle. Now I get pissed off and click the "Tell the publisher you want this in kindle format" thing on amazon when an author (or book) I want to read isn't on kindle (Jayne Anne Phillips and Alice Thompson I reviewed last TK come to mind--as well as Crumley's Last Good Kiss-- that wasn't on kindle yet either).

The down side is I'm reading faster than I used to and am now back to the same $100+ purchases per month ... and now really can't afford to get laid off.

Mike Dennis said...

Way to go, Dana. I just bought an iPad myself, for the reading-in-bed experience, and for the other things it can do. But the selection of books is not yet what the Kindle offers, of course, due to the Amazon connection. Nor is my own novel available yet on iPad.

But I too have joined the 21st century now.

Anonymous said...

What I love about my Kindle the most are the free samples. I've downloaded dozens of them, and they are significant in size. I realized as I was browsing through my collection that the number of pages I get to read on the Kindle sample was far more than the the number of pages I'd take the time to read while standing in a bookstore.
And I can do it all while lounging around in my jammies!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Bought one but have to say I have only used it for Discount Noir and Chris's book. My husband has used it more.

John McFetridge said...

You make a good point, Dana, about not padding out a 180 page book to 300 pages. I think that in many ways e-books can be the new pulps. Just like no one expected pulps to published as expensive hardbacks from big NY publishers, e-books open up a lot of possibilities - for readers, writers and publishers.

And Mike, I also have an iPad, but I have the Kindle app for it and buy books from Amazon (and, like Charlie, am spending way too much again ;)