In the past week I’ve had a dozen conversations via Facebook, blog, email and telephone about whether or not the enquiring party should get/accept a Kindle for Christmas. It’s weird; people I know as disparately as family, college and Farmville all know me as a Kindle ambassador and all ask the same questions.
“I love real books and don’t think I could read a machine.”
My standard response is that the book isn’t the paper and cardboard and string and glue–the book is the information contained therein. So books on Kindle are as much “real books” as those things we grew up with. And like the Velveteen Rabbit, a book is made most real by being loved. I first loved George RR Martin’s books on Kindle and now can’t even imagine trying them in the fifty-pound paper version. They are very real to me, in spite of our electronically-aided first encounters.
But there are a lot of plusses to Kindle besides the ubertrendiness. Let’s talk about that.
10. No hot wing sauce
When you’re reading a paper book from the library there are always these smudges of indeterminate origin. You HOPE they’re chocolate or ketchup–you pray the person who read the book before you wasn’t taking a break from cleaning up a murder scene or suffering from really poor post-toilet hygiene.
When you check out a library book on your Kindle, there is none of that suspicious trail to creep you out. There is also
9. No cigarette smoke smell
Yeah, instances of these have been greatly reduced now that society has bullied smokers into going underground. But you still occasionally stumble across a paperback that smells like my late Uncle Joe.
8. It fits in your purse
I always carry a book in my purse. For years I had to have a separate “purse book” if the main story I was reading had been printed on too large a trim size. Now that no longer matters. Any book I’m reading fits snugly in all my purses except my Vera Bradley clutch.
7. You don’t need a U-Haul
Before I gave my Kindle Keyboard to my sister in law for her birthday and got my new Kindle Touch last week, I had 923 books on my device. 923 books, most of them over 500 pages in length. Many of them textbooks. Try carting 923 paper books with you anywhere without an El Camino at the very least.
6. Every book is its own Large Print Edition
My eyesight is worse than Piggy’s. If we are ever stranded on an island, I fully expect the other kids to beat me up so they can use my glasses to start a fire. If I’m trying to read a paper book in bed I have to keep my glasses on. Now I can just toss them on the nightstand and embiggen the font size. That’s a huge boon to side-liers like me who are forever bending our glasses frames.
5. What was that again?
If you’re reading a paper book and you come across a word you don’t know, you have to put the paper book down, find your dictionary and look the word up. Alternatively, you just try to discern the meaning from context and keep moving along or make a note on a piece of paper to check into it later. Now, with Kindle, you simply touch (or click on) the word you don’t know and UP pops the dictionary. I was previously a big “discern from context” reader, which works pretty well. But the Kindle’s immediate-dictionary has improved my vocabulary a great deal by making it easy to find the _exact_ meaning to any word which is unclear.
4. Read more about it
Used to be if you were reading a book and you came upon an idea that made you curious you’d have to make a note on a piece of paper and then go to the library and look it up. With Kindle you just click over to the Web Browser and google away. It’s all right there in your hand. All the answers you could ever want.
3. Immediate gratification
Yes, this is something that is probably not good for you. But in days of future passed if you heard of a book that sounded intriguing while watching Oprah or listening to NPR or bantering in the breakroom you’d have to make a note on a piece of paper*, wait until you had some time off and then hunt the thing down at the Library or Waldenbooks or whatever book store you could find. And unless you lived in or near a city, they weren’t always easy to find. Now, with Kindle, there are approximately 42 seconds between “that sounds intriguing” and actually reading the book itself.
2. It’s easy to hold
Yes, you’d think this is the number one feature, especially for a disabled whinger like me. Paper books are heavy and the arthritic among us cannot hold them. I say that all the time, because it’s great to be able to read a book the size of a first-grader without having to engineer The Book Propping Device Over The River Kwai to make it happen. And it
lovely to have all your books weigh less than a Big Mac.
But the number one thing I love about my Kindle is
1. NO GUTTERS
You know how you’re reading along happily, lying there in bed and then you turn the page and you have to read stuff on the left hand side of the book and then the words start disappearing down the middle of the book so that the last few letters are lost in the seam? And you know how you have to break your comfortable flow of being lost in the story to tilt the book at odd angles and figure out what comes next?
This doesn’t happen on Kindle. There are no gutters. At all. Ever. Every page is a lovely, flat expanse of words you can endlessly travel without craning your neck.
I love my Kindle almost as much as I love my husband and kids. I’m betting if you give in to the now this Christmas or Chanukah you will too. Especially if you don’t even know my husband and kids.
*I see a theme. Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life making notes on pieces of paper. I’m a note-jottin’ fool.