When you date somebody for awhile, the starry-eyed infatuation wears off and you’re either left with the realisation that there are a lot of other people you could be dating or that you do still love the person but the way they pronounce the word “orange” (“aahrnge”) is massively irritating. Usually after a few months at this stage (one hopes it’s only months–or, better yet, weeks) you either divest yourself entirely or invest yourself fully.
My Kindle Touch was that fateful lull.
I have loved Kindles ever since my husband forced one upon me for my birthday and I figured I owed it to him to at least try the thing out. Even though I was a Book Person who Just Loved The Feel of the Paper and Couldn’t Imagine Life Without Actual Books, I bravely downloaded Dan Simmons’ Drood and started in. The fact that I loved it so much while trying it out with such a mediocre book speaks volumes for the near-perfection of the device. A Kindle is one of those devices that divides life into Before and After.
Since that very first one (named Quinndle after my dog) I have had a new one each time a new one comes out. Not because I’m so very tech-snobby but because each new version has been a vast improvement. When the Kindle Touch was announced I became a laser-focused beam of Covet. It could be held and operated in one hand! It had all-touch operation, just like the iPhone! It displayed books by cover art! I could at last be free from the wonky keyboard and all its little sticky buttons that just dangled there under the books like a vestigial tale. Best of all I would at last be shot of the two major annoyances–the 5-way controller and the pop-up number keyboard.
Well, the thing got here in November and I have tried to keep silent. I wanted other people to buy and enjoy Kindles and not be put off by how this one said “aahrnge” in so many different ways.
–The picture thing was a classic shell game. The only place you could select books by cover art was when shopping in the Kindle Store. The rest of the time you’re left with the old text-only menu that looks like a table of contents. The same one everyone else gets..
–That “hold in one hand” depends fully upon your gender and size. Since that claim was made I’ve looked at pictures. The only “one hand”s holding it belong to men. Since I already have cartoonishly small hands that was a non-starter. Even if the arthritis hadn’t left me very swellish and unbendy, I can only hold the K-Touch in one hand if I don’t ever want to turn the pages. Yes, it IS light enough to hold in one hand while turning pages with the other…but every other Kindle was already that light.
–The on-screen keyboard is great. It’s the rest of the touch-controls that are abysmally wonky. See, they’ve decided to divide the screen into “zones. There are theoretically three Zones–page back, page forward and Menu. Already that’s complicated enough, since like the Equator the lines are wholly imaginary. Then they’ve thrown in these other hokey-pokey style moves such as “slide up for next chapter, slide down for previous chapter.” These little tricks aren’t available in all books, but in the books that do have them it becomes “accidentally touch in the wrong place and find yourself suddenly miles away from where you want to be.” Over and over and over again. For someone with occasionally-poor fingering, this is dreadful.
It’s been about four months now, and I’m growing used to all of these things. I know to bookmark frequently so that I can find my way back to where I should be. I know to respect the invisible boundaries and to deal with disappointment. I’m at last reading on it nearly as much as I read on the previous iterations, even though I sometimes have to steel myself first.
But I will say this…If you haven’t gotten a Kindle yet, I’d suggest you pick pretty much any other model.